That Jonathan Dwyer has yet to be drafted stuns Paul Johnson, his former coach at Georgia Tech.
At one time projected to be a first-round pick when he announced in January he was leaving school after three seasons, Dwyer was finally selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth rounds
Twelve running backs were selected ahead of him.
“Someone is going to get a heck of a football player,” Johnson said after Saturday’s T-Day game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. “If there are 90 guys better than him I haven’t seen them.
After rushing for 1,395 yards as a sophomore to earn ACC player of the year honors, he rushed for 1,395 more as a junior last season in helping the Yellow Jackets win the ACC.
When he announced he was turning pro, draft analysts questioned Dwyer’s weight, ability to catch the ball, blocking and pass-catching skills. He played at around 240 pounds in Tech’s spread-option, where he wasn’t asked to pass-block or catch, though he did snag a few passes, notably against FSU and against Iowa in the Orange Bowl
A toe injury sustained in the bowl game hampered his training and conditioning in the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine. As a result, he ran a relatively slow 40 time and weighed 229 pounds, four more than his target weight. But the toe healed and a slimmer Dwyer (225 pounds) bounced back at Tech’s pro day a month later to run a 4.52, seven-thousandths faster than his time at the Combine and within the top-10 times posted in Indianapolis.
Analysts also wondered whether Dwyer could transition from lining up close to the line of scrimmage, as he did in Tech’s spread-option, to the deeper start required in a pro-style offense. Dwyer pointed out after Tech’s pro day that he was used in that formation during his freshman season at Tech when Chan Gailey was coach.
Dwyer is the fourth Yellow Jacket taken in this year’s draft, following defensive end Derrick Morgan to Tennessee with the 16th pick, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to Denver with the 22nd pick, and safety Morgan Burnett to Green Bay in the third round (71st overall) on Friday.