Multiple Georgia Tech draft hopefuls draw Falcons’ interest

Credit: Streeter Lecka

Credit: Streeter Lecka

Former Georgia Tech defensive end Antonio Simmons didn’t even finish his Pro Day, but the event served its purpose. Simmons threw down a time of 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash and pumped out 30 bench-press reps of 225 pounds, and suddenly NFL scouts grew a lot more interested.

Simmons’ agent is hopeful that his client will hear his name called in the NFL draft, probably Saturday somewhere in rounds 4-7. Former Tech wide receiver Ricky Jeune and defensive end KeShun Freeman appear also to be possibilities to be selected late. Others are more likely to get their chances as undrafted free agents.

“He definitely did some good for himself,” said Simmons’ agent, the Atlanta-based Ryan Rubin.

ExploreAntonio Simmons’ swift 40 and 8 more pro-day observations

Rubin said that Simmons has had “a bunch” of private workouts and meetings with NFL teams in the past two to three weeks, including the Falcons. They followed Tech’s Pro Day on March 16. That day, after scorching his first 40, Simmons pulled up in his second run after tweaking his hamstring and did not take part in any more drills or tests except for the bench press. But it was enough to intrigue scouts to go back and review his game video, which showed a player who can close down a pocket coming off the edge.

Rubin did not offer a prediction on where Simmons might go in the draft, but said that “I think teams won’t let him slip that far.”

Jeune’s agent, Jordan Hagedorn, said that six or seven teams have been in touch with him about Jeune, who led the Jackets in receptions each of the past three seasons and was a forceful perimeter blocker. Whether Jeune gets drafted likely depends on what sort of run there is on wide receivers during the seven rounds.

Even if he doesn’t get selected, Hagedorn was confident that he will be signed as an undrafted free agent, which takes place at the conclusion of the draft Saturday. Jeune hopes to be the fifth wide receiver taken in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure at Tech, following Demaryius Thomas, Darren Waller and DeAndre Smelter.

Freeman said he had received feedback from NFL scouts and coaches that he could be a late-round pick. Among the parties showing interest are the Falcons, for whom he did running-back drills when he went to the team’s area workout, as he did at the Pro Day. The Falcons have a need for a fullback, having chosen not to re-sign Derrick Coleman.

“I did pretty good catching the ball, my feet weren’t horrible, so I loved it,” Freeman said. “So that was pretty interesting.”

ExploreThe Falcons have a vacancy at fullback

The Falcons took a look last year at former Tech linebacker P.J. Davis as a fullback at the Pro Day last year. He ultimately signed with Jacksonville after the draft.

What could also help Freeman is his versatility in a more conventional way. While he played defensive end for Tech, he conceivably could be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Freeman’s agent, Shawn O’Dare, said he was “100 percent” confident that Freeman will sign with a team if he isn’t drafted.

For the other Tech draft hopefuls who performed at the Pro Day – defensive backs Lance and Lawrence Austin, guard Shamire Devine, cornerback Step Durham, A-back J.J. Green, safety Corey Griffin and wide receiver Antonio Messick – the best chance appears to sign as undrafted free agents.

Lance Austin’s agent said that the Falcons informed him that he did well at the team’s area workout.

“There’s several other teams that have expressed an interesting, so we’re hoping for good things during the draft, if not the draft, then after the draft,” said Thomas Hunter, the agent for both Austins.