1. Defensive end Antonio Simmons threw down a 40-yard dash that was clocked in 4.48 seconds, an eye-popping time even if hand-timed (which typically is perhaps a tenth of a second faster than electronic timing). Unfortunately for Simmons, he tweaked his hamstring on his second 40-yard dash and was not able to continue with testing or drill work.
At the combine (electronic timing), the fastest 40 for a defensive lineman or rush linebacker was 4.48 and the fifth fastest time was 4.58.
“I’ve just been working on my starts,” he said. “That was my main focus, my starts and my technique. I knew if my 10-yard split was good, I knew my 40 was going to be good.”
Simmons also cranked out 30 bench-press reps of 225 pounds, which would have tied for seventh among defensive linemen at the draft combine.
He should get a chance to try again at the Jacksonville University pro day March 30. Simmons is from Jacksonville, and draft prospects are permitted to work out for scouts at their college campus or in or near their hometowns.
“That was my biggest fear, getting my hamstring tight during the run, but it’ll be good in about a week,” Simmons said.
Simmons led Tech this past season with 5.5 sacks and added five more quarterback hurries. The demonstration of his explosiveness should help him get another look from scouts. He said one scout asked him for his best games, an indication of piqued interest.
“I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said.
2. Cornerbacks Lance and Lawrence Austin and safety Corey Griffin had a lengthy position drill run by a Falcons defensive assistant Charlie Jackson overseen by coach Dan Quinn. The head coach was an active observer, at least once conferring with his assistant. The Austins and Griffin appeared to fare well, bringing down deep balls and showing their change of direction.
“It’s just like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Lance Austin said. “You put all this work in for one day, one thing.”
All three tested fairly well. Lance Austin ran the 40 in 4.56 and had a 32.5-inch vertical. Lawrence Austin ran a nearly identical 4.55 and had a 33.5-inch vertical. Both, amusingly, had the same number of bench-press reps, 16.
“I thought he was going to one-up me,” Lawrence Austin said of his brother’s bench-press efforts. “He was moving pretty fast, but I guess it’s that twin thing.”
Griffin ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds and had a 35-inch vertical.
“They liked what we did,” Lawrence Austin said. “We talked to a couple teams after and they liked what we did, so we’re just looking for an opportunity.”
3. Wide receiver Ricky Jeune had a relatively brief position drill, cleanly catching five passes on a variety of routes. Jeune also ran a 4.59 in the 40 with a solid 36-inch vertical which would have tied for ninth among receivers at the combine.
“It was good to come out here and just show people how hard we’ve been working in the offseason,” Jeune said. “I think I did pretty good.”
For a receiver, a 4.59 is not blazing, but that’s also not Jeune’s game. He had at least one scout visit with him after the workout was over.
“Of course I was shooting for lower, but I’ll take it,” Jeune said.
4. Defensive end KeShun Freeman did drills for defensive line, linebacker and fullback. As a linebacker, he looked the part in his pass drops and changing direction. He ran the 40 in 4.66 seconds and had a broad jump of 10 feet, 6 inches, which was the best jump of the day. Among linebackers, defensive linemen and edge rushers at the combine, that would have rated a tie for fifth best.
“I feel like I put a lot of great stuff out there (Friday),” Freeman said. “I worked so hard training and everything, so I feel pretty proud of what I put out there.”
Freeman weighed in at 246 pounds. The idea of him at fullback is intriguing.
“I’m open to wherever they work me in,” he said. “Either way, I’m going to focus in on it, read my playbook and learn the position as best I can.”
5. Besides Simmons, two other draft prospects were cruelly betrayed by hamstring tweaks. Cornerback Step Durham did not participate in anything besides the bench press (15 reps) after a slight injury in his hamstring last week. His trainer, Chip Smith, had touted Durham’s explosiveness and predicted that he would test well Friday. Like Simmons, Durham plans to work out in Jacksonville on March 30.
A-back J.J. Green said he was also dealing with muscle tightness. He ran a 4.57 in the 40, a time he felt he could have better had he been running free.
“Very excited,” Green said. “Could have been better, but things happen for a reason.”
6. Linebacker P.J. Davis was back to work out after going to training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars and then joining the practice roster of the B.C. Lions in the CFL. His primary goal was to work out in front of Falcons coach Dan Quinn, whose team worked Davis out at last year’s pro day at fullback. Davis did so again and had a conversation with Quinn.
“That’s really a big reason why I came back,” Davis said. “I wanted to get in front of coach Quinn and see if I can get another chance from those guys. So he came and talked to me about my film and everything from Jacksonville and said he was going to look at it and we’ll keep in touch, see how it goes.”
7. Guard Shamire Devine, weighing in at 380 pounds, ran the 40 in 5.72 seconds. He appeared to have a decent workout, not overwhelming. His size and agility could earn him a training-camp invite.
On his feedback, Devine said, “They said I did good, but I feel like I could have done better.”
8. Also working out: Freddie Burden (who was unable to work out last year after breaking his ankle in Tech’s bowl game), Francis Kallon (who was on two practice squads last season as a rookie), Terrell Lewis (4.68 in the 40) and Antonio Messick (4.73 in the 40).
9. Scouts or coaches from no fewer than 20 NFL teams attended the workout. Also in attendance: Several current Tech players, including quarterback TaQuon Marshall, A-back Qua Searcy, wide receiver Brad Stewart and defensive lineman Desmond Branch, a number of Jackets coaches and former Tech kicker Harrison Butker.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.