Starting nose John Jenkins has been ruled academically ineligible for the Capital One Bowl and will begin his preparations for a potentially successful pro career earlier than expected. However, the Georgia Bulldogs feel confident that Jenkins’ backup, Kwame Geathers, will be able to step into the starting role and be that difference for the Dawgs.
Geathers racked up some nice numbers in the regular season in a mostly backup role (37 tackles, six quarterback hurries, and five tackles for loss) and there is no doubt that he is best suited to take over for Jenkins; Abry Jones will also be a possibility, but I don’t expect much from him as he’s been out for the better part of eight-weeks and is hardly in game shape. I suspect he’ll be used only if necessary.
But, the bigger part of this story will be how Geathers utilizes this unexpected opportunity to aid in his NFL prospects as he has an opportunity to potentially increase his draft stock with a big game in Orlando on New Years Day. As of now, the redshirt junior hasn’t made a decision on his NFL future, but he’s projected to go as early as the second round should he declare.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper said if Geathers entered the draft, “you’ve got to look at a guy like that in the second, third round mix. You have to. They’re valuable in the NFL for obvious reasons. You pop him in the second round as a possibility.”
Asked if a second or third round grade would be enough to encourage him to turn pro, Geathers said: “Somewhat, but I’m one of those guys that don’t listen to that kind of stuff. It can go either way. You’ve got the combine, you’ve got a lot of times left that you have to prove yourself.” (Marc Weiszer, Online Athens)
The Bulldogs will face a Top 10 run offense in the Nebraska Cornhuskers and a flat performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game have many wondering if the Bulldogs will find themselves struggling yet again—especially with Jenkins now out.
That said, if Geathers performs well, he helps himself from a draft stock perspective and you have to wonder if he isn’t seeing it that way as well.
One thing is certain, Geathers is taking his time and making sure he’s doing the right thing . Whether this starting opportunity in the Capital One Bowl turns out to be an NFL audition or a harbinger of things to come in 2013, Geathers is ready to show what he can do.