SEC Championship: Preview & Draft Implications

LSU and Georgia are set to face off for the 2019 SEC Championship on Saturday, December 7th. The game will be held in Atlanta and will feature a number of high-profile prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

The SEC Championship will also have huge implications for this year’s College Football Playoff

SEC Championship: The Game

Saturday’s game pits a pair of Top-5 teams loaded with NFL Draft talent. Both of these teams have national championship aspirations  and Saturday’s result will go a long way to determining the next champ. 

LSU is a 7.5-point betting favorite heading into Saturday’s contest, but the last time these two teams played for the SEC crown, then-No. 13 Georgia upset then-No. 3 LSU 34-14 in 2005. This is Georgia’s third consecutive SEC Championship appearance. LSU is trying for their first conference title since 2011. 

The most interesting element of this game is it’s a matchup of strength versus strength.

LSU’s offense is the best in the SEC and one of the best in the NCAA (560.5 total yards; 48.7 points-per-game). Georgia’s defense is the best in the SEC and one of the best in the NCAA (257.0 yards-allowed-per-game; 10.4 points-allowed-per-game). 

Georgia will look to slow down LSU’s Heisman-hopeful quarterback. Joe Burrow set a single-season passing record for LSU with his 4,366 yards. He’s thrown 44 touchdowns and only six interceptions. 

Georgia’s defensive backs must manage LSU’s cadre of receivers, including Justin Jefferson

On the other end, it will be interesting to see if Georgia’s offense can put up enough points. Jake Fromm might not have top-flight receivers at his disposal, but running back D’Andre Swift should be a force in this one. 

SEC Championship: 2020 NFL Draft

This game will feature upwards of 20 NFL Draft prospects, including several potential first-rounders. 

Leading the way is Heisman favorite Joe Burrow. LSU’s quarterback has played his way to the top of the draft board for many teams, perhaps even the Cincinnati Bengals who will probably draft first overall. His performance will go a long way to establishing his draft position (and the Heisman). 

LSU features pair of elite defensive back prospects in junior Grant Delpit and senior Kristian Fulton. Delpit is likely a top-10 selection at safety, and Fulton is considered the second-best cornerback on the board behind Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah. Both stand to improve their stock this weekend.

K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU’s edge rusher, could solidify himself as a first round selection, especially if he excels against the elite offensive line prospect across the way. 

SEC Championship
The SEC Championship game features seven potential first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. (Photo Credit: Jason Getz/USA Today sports)

Georgia boasts a number of potential first-rounders as well. Left Tackle Andrew Thomas could be a top-3 pick as an offensive line anchor. Running back D’Andre Swift has first-round talent, too, and could play his way toward a first-day choice.

Quarterback Jake Fromm could also be a first-round selection, considering the thirst for franchise quarterbacks across the NFL. 

This game features a number of “second day” picks. LSU wideout Justin Jefferson, Tigers defensive tackle Rashad Lawrence and Georgia offensive guard Solomon Kinley will likely be chosen in the second or third rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Solid performances from them will only improve their current draft stock.

Mid-round picks from this game include: ILB Jacob Phillips (LSU), DL Glen Logan (LSU), C Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), S Richard LeCounte (UGA) and OG Ben Cleveland (UGA). 

Late round picks from this game could be: OG Damien Lewis (UGA), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), S J.R. Reed (UGA), DL Tyler Clark (UGA) and K Rodrigo Blankenship (UGA). 

Seven players set to appear in the SEC Championship game are part of NFL Draft Lounge’s Top 50 Big Board. Four appear on Brian Lamb’s latest Mock Draft

SEC Championship: College Football Playoff

This game will go a long way to determining who the next national champion will be. If Georgia loses, they are likely eliminated from CFP contention. But if Georgia wins, they should be part of the final four. 

A loss by LSU will result in a glut of 1-loss teams, including LSU, Georgia, Utah and either Oklahoma or Baylor. Things would get complicated, but even with a loss, LSU is likely in the College Football Playoff. 

The door is open for Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Utah to secure their births to the CFP with wins. The winner of the Big-12 Championship, Oklahoma or Baylor, will probably need a blowout win and for one of those teams ahead of them to lose or falter considerably. 

SEC Championship: Prediction LSU 34, Georgia 27

I can’t see LSU losing this game. Georgia’s defense could make it interesting, and D’Andre Swift should keep them close, but I think LSU wins out in the end. 

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