Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield (13) falls into the endzone past Georgia Tech defensive back Jaytlin Askew (33) for a touchdown during the first half in a NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 24, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Cover 9@9: Several Bulldogs need to have strong Pro Day 

1. UGA Pro Day: The Georgia Pro Day has started with measurements and the bench press.

The media will be allowed in at 9:15 a.m. for the rest of the drills. 

The Falcons will have a strong contingent in here for Georgia’s Pro Day on Wednesday. 

Several Bulldogs, including cornerback Deandre Baker, running back Elijah Holyfield and tight end Isaac Nauta, had less than stellar showings in Indianapolis and need to improve their NFL scouting combine times. 

One AFC offensive coordinator said that Holyfield was not “draftable” after he ran a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. 

The target time for running backs is 4.55.

By contrast, Michigan defensive lineman Rashad Gary, who’s 6-4 and 277 pounds ran a 4.58.

Holyfield, a hard-charging runner, needs to lower his time. Currently, he projects as a between-the-tackles short-yardage back and undrafted free agent.

Also, Baker ran a 4.52 at the combine and is losing ground in the cornerback battle to Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen, who ran a 4.46 at the combine.

Baker, Mullen and LSU’s Greedy Williams are the top three cornerbacks in the draft. There’s a big drop off in talent after the top three.

“Most definitely,” Mullen said when asked if he was the top corner in the draft. “I feel like I separated myself being able to compete well, do drills well and just be mentally focused and prepared for the next level.”

Nauta, who probably should have listened to the NFL draft advisory committee and stayed in school, ran a 4.91 at the combine. 

2.Heart condition: Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat, who played at Stephenson High, pre-existing heart condition is not too serious, according to NFL Media’s Gil Brandt.

He was medically tested at the combine in Indianapolis and the condition was first reported on Monday by Ian Rapopart of NFL Network. 

“I talked to decision-makers for several NFL teams and all said they'd pass @HailStateFB pass rusher Montez Sweat on a physical,” Brandt wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “In fact, I've been told he won't even be called back to Indy for a medical re-check. Great news for one of the top defenders in this draft.”

Sweat was one of the stars of the combine after he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds, a new modern record (since 2003) for a defensive lineman at the NFL scouting combine. 

The previous mark was held by Manny Lawson (2006) and Isaac Hilton (2004), according to NFL research.

The 4.41 time would have been the eighth fastest time among the wide receivers at the combine. Sweat, who started his career at Michigan State, was originally recruited as a tight end. 

Sweat is expected to be the first player from Georgia selected in the draft. 

In 2018, Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was diagnosed with a heart condition. He was considered a likely high first-round pick, but was not allowed to participate at the combine.

Sweat was allowed to take part in the scouting combine. 

Hurst dropped to the fifth round and was selected by the Oakland Raiders. He played in 10 games and made three starts. He finished with 31 tackles last season. 


3. Irvin to the Panthers: Former Falcons defensive end Bruce Irvin agreed to a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.

The Falcons were sitting at 4-4 when they signed Irvin and they hoped he would help to boost a sagging defense and lead to a playoff run. 

However, the Falcons dropped five straight games and were eliminated from the playoffs. 

Irvin played in eight games and made three starts. He finished with 3.5 sacks for the Falcons.

Irvin, who was with Falcons coach Dan Quinn in Seattle for the two Super Bowl runs, cleared waivers last season from Oakland and signed a one-year deal with the Falcons.

When the Falcons added Irvin, they had 17 sacks on the season, which ranked 27th in the league. Irvin was expected to bolster the pass rush. 

Irvin, 31, had three sacks, four quarterback hits and one forced fumble on the season before joining the Falcons. The Falcons thought he could help the pass rush and give starters Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley a break. 

Seattle was also interested in Irvin. The Seahawks drafted him in the first round in 2012 after his career at West Virginia.

He was considered at reach as a speed edge rusher. But turned into a strongside linebacker. He teamed with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and weakside linebacker K.J. Wright on Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense, which was coordinated by Quinn. 

After playing four seasons with Seattle, Irvin signed a four-year, $27.7 million contract with Oakland in free agency in 2016.

With the retirement of Julius Peppers, the Panthers were in the market for pass-rush help.

4. Free Agency Tracker: After the first phase of free agency, former Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, right tackle Ryan Schraeder and left guard Andy Levitre remain unsigned. In all, the Falcons have signed four new players and six of their former players. 

5. Barner has a Super bowl ring: Returner Kenjon Barner agreed to a one-year contract. He was the player who got popped by punter Matt Bosher last season in the Carolina game on Dec. 23.

He played at Oregon and once rushed for a school-record 321 yards against USC. 

Barner, who turns 29 in April, was drafted by Carolina in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.

He was traded to the Eagles in 2014. He played three seasons with the Eagles and was their primary punt returner and also returned kickoffs. 

Last season, Barner, 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, played for the Patriots before he was waived and claimed by the Panthers. 

He had three kickoff returns for 73 yards in the Eagles 41-33 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. 

6. Working depth chart: We will not get an official updated depth chart from the Falcons until training camp, but here’s what the depth chart would look like after the free agency signings.

You can see that the team has stockpiled six tight ends. 

Also, heading into the draft the roster is stacked at running back and a little light at cornerback and defensive end.

7. Offense

WR 11 Julio Jones, 83 Russell Gage, 16 Christian Blake 

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 77 Matt Gono 

LG James Carpenter, 71 Wes Schweitzer

C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer

RG 68 Jamon Brown, 65 Brandon Fusco, 64 Sean Harlow 

RT 74 Ty Sambrailo, 77 Matt Gono

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 88 Luke Stocker, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 87 Jaeden Graham, 89 Alex Gray 

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley, 7 Devin Gray 

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 32 Brian Hill, 38 Kenjon Barner, 43 Jeremy Langford

FB 30 Ricky Ortiz 

8. Defense

DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 56 Steven Means

DT 94 Deadrin Senat, 93 Michael Bennett, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner 

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 92 Justin Zimmer 

DE 98 Takk McKinley

WLB 54 Foyesade Olukon, 42 Duke Riley 

LB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Bruce Carter 

LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 53 Jermaine Grace 

CB 20 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson

NCB 27 Damontae Kazee, 

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 38 Taveze Calhoun 

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 40 Ryan Neal 

9. Specialists

K 4 Giorgio Tavecchio

KO 5 Matt Bosher 

P 5 Matt Bosher 

KR 38 Kenjon Barner, 14 Calvin Ridley

PR 38 Kenjon Barner, 

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.