The last four months for offensive lineman Clint Boling were all about making himself as attractive as possible to NFL teams.
Clint Boling is projected as a second- to third-round pick in this week’s NFL draft. The last time a Georgia offensive linemen was taken in the first three rounds was 2003.
After his college career at Georgia ended in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Boling trained in Nashville, practiced and played at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., worked out in Indianapolis at the NFL combine and returned to Athens for pro day.
Now he’s ready to finally receive the word about his next destination at his home in Alpharetta when the NFL draft is held Thursday through Saturday.
“After next weekend, I’ll be pretty happy once it’s all over,” Boling said.
Several draft analysts project that the 6-foot-5, 308-pounder will go in the second- to third-round range.
If that’s the case, he would be the highest drafted offensive lineman from Georgia since 2003 when the Denver Broncos picked George Foster in the first round with the 20th overall pick and the New Orleans Saints selected Jon Stinchcomb in the second round with pick No. 37.
“Getting picked in the second or third round obviously would be really nice,” said Boling, who started 49 games at Georgia where he played both guard and tackle. “As long as I get picked up by somebody is all that matters. Where I get drafted, it’s not going to play a huge role as long as I get the opportunity to play for somebody.”
Only three Georgia offensive linemen were selected in the last seven drafts: fourth-round pick Max Jean-Gilles in 2006, sixth-round pick Ken Shackleford in 2007 and seventh-round pick Chester Adams in 2008.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt can’t pinpoint exactly why Georgia hasn’t produced as many NFL draftees on the offensive line as it has at other positions in recent years.
“We’ve actually had a run of guys that have been kind of injury-prone over the years at times,” Richt said. “You hope you’re bringing them in and developing them.”
Richt readily admits that the program had a “spell” where it failed to recruit offensive linemen, but he points to Boling and Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones – both seniors this year – as players who came into the program and started since their freshmen seasons.
“If you’re not turning linemen over every year or two, it’s hard to get them drafted,” Richt said. “A great majority of our guys have just been young lately the last few years anyway.”
ESPN’s Todd McShay pegged Boling as the first pick in the second round to New England in a recent mock draft.
Georgia could have another early-round draft pick next year from the line.
Glenn is rated as the No. 1 guard prospect for the 2012 draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, but he is expected to start at left tackle this season for Georgia. Jones is the No. 4 center.
“I think Cordy will definitely have an opportunity to go pretty high,” Boling said. “I think Ben Jones will have an opportunity to get drafted.”
Boling last season started six games at left tackle, two at right tackle and five at right guard. In at least one game, he said he played all three positions.
“The great thing about Clint is that he is versatile and he’s shown he can play anywhere on that line,” said Nolan Nawrocki, draft analyst for Pro Football Weekly.
Boling’s preference is to play tackle, but he says most teams envision him as a guard.
“It really doesn’t matter as long as I get the opportunity to play,” Boling said. “I think they know that I’m versatile and I’m able to play both. Maybe I’m a guard and move out to tackle after I get there. I think it’s still kind of up in the air.”
Boling said because NFL teams don’t dress out as many offensive linemen as college teams do, his ability to play both guard and tackle will help him.
“He’s probably most suited to play at guard,” Nawrocki said. “He looked most comfortable there this season. I think it was the Arkansas game where he really settled down and just appeared to really hone in at that position. He showed the strength … and he’s obviously got the intelligence as well.
“I think there’s a lot he has going for him. There are some teams that don’t care highly for him. I’ve heard as low as the sixth round, but there are enough that like him in that second-round area that I think he’s going to be coveted on draft day and will likely go in the top two rounds.”