Some notes from Georgia Tech’s pro day, Tuesday morning at the Brock Family Indoor Football Practice Facility.
1. Stephen Hill caught 12 of 12 passes, running routes crisply and apparently answering questions about his route running.
This from NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock, who was on hand: “I think he’s just kind of overwhelming from a height-weight-speed-upside perspective. I think he runs too well and catches too well to get out of the first round, in my opinion.”
Sports Illustrated draft expert Tony Pauline says Hill should be off the board by the 25th pick.
Think about this – when Hill asked the NFL for a draft evaluation, he was told he didn’t have the potential to be taken in the first three rounds. He bet on himself, and that bet is almost certainly going to pay off handsomely. I think a fun blog would be to go back and look at the reactions to the blog reporting Hill was declaring.
Paul Johnson: “I think another year of [maturing and improving] would have helped. He would have been closer to graduation, but it looks like he’s made the right decision, looks like it’s going to work for him and I’m extremely happy for him and his family that it’s’ worked out for him the way it has.”
2. Mayock said he watched all of Hill’s film from the season and counted five or six drops with his 28 catches, calling two of them critical, drops against North Carolina and Clemson.
“But when you watch him catch the ball, he’s a natural hands catcher,” he said. “I think it’s more concentration and discipline than it is anything else.
3. It appeared scouts or coaches from most, if not all, 32 NFL teams were represented. Among the onlookers were Falcons coach Mike Smith and Bears coach Lovie Smith.
“It was nice coming in here, doing things on my own field,” wide receiver Tyler Melton said, “but more so I really appreciate Steve, how he showed out at the combine (and) brought all 32 teams (or 31). He gave us the best shot possible. I’m more than grateful to Stephen for that.”
4. Other players performing – Roddy Jones, Logan Walls, Jason Peters, Embry Peeples, Rashaad Reid, Steven Sylvester and Lucas Cox. You can check out their 40 times on Darryl Ledbetter’s Falcons blog here. My sense of things is they’re all undrafted free agent prospects. Hopefully they’ll all get into a camp and get a shot.
Melton made a fantastic catch on a deep sideline route. With the ball well over his head, he rotated in the air, falling backwards to bring the catch in.
“Just kind of natural instincts took over,” he said. I just did what I know how to do.”
5. Paul Johnson on Jones and Peeples: “They’re probably third-down backs, slot receivers. Clearly, they’ve done some of that, catching the ball in space and that kind of thing, so I think it just depends on where other teams see them. Roddy’s a little bigger than Embry; Embry would be a guy that would probably be a third-down back, inside receiver, that type of guy.
Jones and Peeples ran some pass routes out of a wide-receiver stance, part of the same drills that Vikings coach George Stewart (formerly with the Falcons, from the Jim Mora era) conducted for Hill and Melton. They also took handoffs with Cox.
“I felt real good,” Peeples said. “Took me back to the old high school days. That was the last time I actually got a handoff going downhill. To know that I can still do it and make it look good is pretty comforting.”
6. Former Richmond and Southwest DeKalb High quarterback Eric Ward threw for Hill, Melton, Jones and Peeples. He also was in camp with the Falcons. He’s now with the Edmonton Eskimos.
7. Several current players watched the proceedings, including Isaiah Johnson, Louis Young, Rod Sweeting, Vad Lee, Orwin Smith, Julian Burnett and Daniel Drummond. Smith spoke about the turf-toe injury that will keep him out of spring practice.
He had surgery about a month ago to repair torn ligaments and will be rehabbing it until May. He said it was a high school injury that he re-aggravated in the Virginia Tech game and then in the bowl game.
He said he’ll spend spring practice tutoring the younger A-backs, who now have a wealth of reps opening up to them with the top three A-backs from last year either graduated or sitting out.
“That’s what I’ve been emphasizing with [younger players],” Smith said. “With Roddy and Embry not being here and then me actually playing last year, it’s going to be wide open for the guys that actually want to prove themselves.
8. Johnson shed a little more light on Burnett’s status.
Johnson: “He’s not ready to say anything yet. We’ll sit down at the end of this week and talk about it some more. We’re going to have to decide here pretty quick. Spring’s starting. I’d be surprised if he was out there, but we’ll see. Nothing definitive.”
A few more notes Wednesday. Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog