Archive for February, 2012

NFL COMBINE: Q&A with UGA’s Orson Charles

Georgia tight end Orson Charles  at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Georgia tight end Orson Charles at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

INDIANAPOLIS – Some of the highlights from my interview with Georgia’s Orson Charles, who NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has rated as the top tight end in the draft.

ON LOW NUMBER OF TIGHT ENDS: We are still competing. That’s the No. 1 thing. That’s why everybody comes to the combine. That’s why they select the best in the country because it’s a competition. They want to see people compete and that’s what we are going to do this Saturday.

ON COMING OUT EARLY: It was very tough. I definitely took a lot of time to pray about it. I talked to coach [Tony] Dungy about it. I talked to people in my circle as far as my pastor, Ben Watson, who’s my mentor and my mom. I just felt that it was time to open a new chapter in my life and pursue my dream.

ON HIS BLOCKING ABILITY: Blocking is just mainly a want-to. You have to want to do it and then it’s just technique. If …

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NFL COMBINE: Falcons interview Coby Fleener

Stanford tight end Coby Fleener interviewed with Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo on Wednesday night. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Stanford tight end Coby Fleener interviewed with Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo on Wednesday night. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

INDIANAPOLIS – Former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, who ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay considers the top tight end in the draft, had an interview with the Falcons at a downtown hotel Wednesday night.

“I talked to the Falcons tight end coach [Chris Scelfo] last night,” Fleener told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. “He seems like a good coach and a nice guy.”

The Falcons have the 55th overall pick in the second round of the NFL draft, which is set for April 26-28. Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez signed a one-year extension late last season and is expected to retire after the 2012 season.

The Falcons have studied the tight end position intensely over the last three drafts and have flirted with taking the likes of Brandon Pettigrew (Detroit, 2009), Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati, 2010) and Kyle Rudolph …

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NFL COMBINE: Q&A with UGA’s Blair Walsh

Former UGA kicker Blair Walsh (D.Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Former UGA kicker Blair Walsh (D.Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

INDIANAPOLIS  – Here’s a Q&A with former Georgia kicker Blair Walsh.

Q: How do you handle pressure kicks?

A: I don’t think you can have that pressure when you kick field goals. I think you have to go out there and have fun and enjoy what you do. You have to be confident in your abilities, because your ability is what has gotten you here and that’s what is going to get you through it.

Q: What’s your approach to the combine?

A: It’s more about proving to them that I can be consistent and that I can do the same thing over and over again.

Q: How cool is it to have a college teammate here with you?

A: It’s awesome that I get to share this experience with one of my teammates. Drew [Butler] is a great guy and a great punter. I think he’ll succeed at the next level. I’m glad that we are going through this together.

Q: Do you all have some special focus that makes you all so good together?

A: I …

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NFL COMBINE: Q&A with UGA’s Drew Butler

Drew Butler (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Drew Butler (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s a Q&A with former Georgia punter Drew Butler.

Q: What’s your approach to the NFL scouting combine?

A: I’m not necessarily looking at this week as a make or break opportunity. Fortunately, for myself, I’ve built a pretty good foundation and that’s what has gotten me to this point. I just want to show that consistency and that coach-ability. I want to perform and get that ball to do what I want on every single punt. That’s something that I’ve been able to do my past three years in college. . . I want to show the coaches that I have what it takes and that I’m the top punter in the nation this year.

Q: How tough is it to get drafted?

A: It’s a very specific job. There are only 32 punters in the National Football League and they are in high demand every year. . . I have to be able to show that I can help a team or maybe upgrade them in that sense for punting and special teams. Maybe take a …

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NFL COMBINE: Georgian Hayward ready to run fast

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn.  Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward, of Perry, has been working out in Boca Rotan, Florida to prepare for the NFL scouting combine, which started on Wednesday.

He went through rounds of interviews at the Senior Bowl, where he met with the Atlanta Falcons, but now he wants to show the NFL that he’s fast enough to cover pro wide receivers.

“People want to see how fast I’m going to run,” said Hayward in a telephone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “I’m trying to go up there and prove to everybody that I’m fast enough to run with guys at the next level. People don’t think that I’m that fast, but I am. I’m going to go ahead and prove it and then …

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Report: Falcons show interest in Stephen Garcia

Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the South Carolina team last season. (Associated Press)

Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the South Carolina team last season. (Associated Press)

Stephen Garcia, the disgraced quarterback formerly of South Carolina, is trying to make the leap to the NFL has talked to a scout from the Falcons, according to a report from Aaron Wilson of scout.com.

Garcia was dismissed from the South Carolina football program last season for drinking after five prior suspensions. Because of his checkered past, he doesn’t seem to fit the prototype of the players the Falcons have signed under general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

During after a all-star game in Florida, Garcia talked with a scout from the Falcons as well as several other teams.

During his conversation with the Falcons scout, all of Garcia’s transgressions at South Carolina were discussed. And Garcia said he didn’t leave anything out, to the scout’s approval

“I went down the list and he said he appreciated the honesty,” Garcia said. “He told me to stay on that track, and I will. I just …

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NFL COMBINE: 7 players for the Falcons to watch

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn.  Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (19) celebrates his interception-return for a touchdown with teammate Carey Spear (39) against Connecticut in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 24-21. (AP Photo/John Russell)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith will lead the Atlanta Falcons’ group that is headed to the National Football League scouting combine today. Players start arriving on Wednesday while the drills start on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Falcons will not select until the 55th pick in the second round of the NFL draft, which will be held on April 26 through 28.

Here’s a list of seven players to watch closely during the combine. They could all be on the board when the Falcons pick:

1. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Todd McShay are split on who’s the top tight end in the draft. Mayock likes …

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NFL COMBINE: 26 players with Georgia ties

Alfonza Dennard is considered one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft. (Associated Press).

Alfonza Dennard, who played in high school at Wilcox County, is considered one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft. (Associated Press).

In all, 26 players with Georgia connections are on the official invite list to the NFL scouting combine drills which starts Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Last season there were 31 players with Georgia connections invited to the scouting combine.

Some of the lesser known players with local ties include Yale quarterback Patrick Witt and Samford defensive back Corey White.

Witt played at Parkview before finishing his high school career in Texas. He started his college career at Nebraska before transferring to Yale where he was a three-year starter and now holds most of the school’s major career passing records: 549 completions (first), 913 attempts (first), 6,033 yards (first), 60.1 completion percentage (first) and 37 touchdown passes (second).

White, who played at Dunwoody, prepared for the combine by training in Bradenton, …

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MAYOCK: UGA’s Orson Charles is a second-rounder

Georgia tight end Orson Charles has an Aaron Murray pass slip though his hands. Brant Sanderlin@ajc.com

Georgia tight end Orson Charles has an Aaron Murray pass slip though his hands. Brant Sanderlin@ajc.com

Georgia tight end Orson Charles should be the first tight end selected in the NFL draft, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

“I don’t have any tight ends in the first round,” Mayock said. “I think they are going to come off the board in the second round and it will be kind of interesting. I think Orson Charles will be gone by 50. . . I think he’s a second round pick that goes somewhere between 33 and 45.”

Charles started 29 games for Georgia. He caught 94 passes for 1,370 yards, which set a UGA career yardage record for tight ends, and 10 touchdowns, which tied the school record for the position.

After catching 45 passes for 574 yards and five touchdowns in the 2011 season, he was voted first-team All-SEC by both the coaches and the media. He was chosen first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association.

–D. Orlando …

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MAYOCK: Baylor’s RGIII could be special

In this photo provided by the Heisman Trophy Trust, Robert Griffin III, of Baylor University, holds the Heisman Trophy award after being named the winner, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Heisman Trophy Trust, Kelly Kline)

In this photo provided by the Heisman Trophy Trust, Robert Griffin III, of Baylor University, holds the Heisman Trophy award after being named the winner, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Heisman Trophy Trust, Kelly Kline)

Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, could go in the No. 2 spot. Cleveland or Washington could work out a deal with St. Louis, which has the second overall pick.

Some believe that Griffin could overtake Andrew Luck as the top quarterback in the draft.

“I love everything about this kid,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “The question that I have is, is that he doesn’t throw with anticipation mostly because he doesn’t have to in that offense. He has nimble footwork and they spread it out so wide.

“He’s got some talented and gifted receivers. He’s got great touch and accuracy, medium and deep. He’s got arm strength. He’s tough. He take hits. But he doesn’t anticipate throws. He waits …

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