Former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas gave NFL scouts plenty to consider, working out at four positions and throwing down a sizzling 40-yard dash time.
“Going to lay down for the rest of the day,” Thomas said following his workout before scouts and coaches from 20 NFL teams and three from the CFL.
At Tech’s indoor practice facility, he was one of seven former Yellow Jackets taking part in Tech’s Pro Day leading to the NFL draft April 27-29. The dynamic Tech quarterback was the busiest, throwing passes, catching them as a slot receiver, showing his backpedal and hip swivel as a cornerback and fielding punts and kickoffs.
“You know, Justin’s an athlete,” said linebacker P.J. Davis, who himself got a look at a second position, fullback. “He can basically play anything on the field.”
Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in a time that ranged between 4.33 and 4.39 seconds. It is attention-getting speed that augments the position drills that he did for scouts. At the NFL combine, only seven players ran under 4.4 seconds, although the combine participants are electronically timed, which generally records slower times than those hand-timed by scouts.
“It’s good enough for me,” Thomas said.
In going through the receiver drills, he wasn’t necessarily technically strong, but caught the ball cleanly and moved well. Going through cornerback drills, he showed quick feet and again latched onto balls with seemingly little effort, catching the last one — thrown perhaps 35 yards downfield by Tech grad assistant Tevin Washington — with one hand as he sprinted to the sideline.
“I didn’t think I was going to catch up to it, but I just put my head down and ended up finding the ball,” he said. “It was a great way to end it.”
Fielding punts from Ryan Rodwell, he fielded 11 of about 12, showing sure hands. While he’s undersized at 5-foot-9, it’s not hard to imagine him finding a way onto a roster.
“I think he could play quarterback if given the opportunity,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I know he’s not the prototype, size-wise, but he’s got a strong arm, he really understands the game and I think he could play there. If not there, then I think he’s an inside receiver. Could be a corner, possibly. He’s a good-enough athlete.”
Davis may have helped himself the most Friday. After he did linebacker position drills, scouts from the Falcons, Rams and Raiders had him go through drills at fullback. It’s a position where the Falcons have an opening. At 5-9, Davis doesn’t have typical fullback size, but as a linebacker he showed a taste for contact with an ability to finish through ballcarriers.
Davis ran the 40 in the low 4.6-second range and had a 34-inch vertical, which would have tied for ninth at the combine among linebackers.
“I definitely feel like I showed them that I’m a little more athletic than probably what they assumed,” he said.
Davis, who led Tech in tackles as a sophomore and junior and likely would have this past season if not for missing two games because of injury, said he had no idea he’d be asked to try his hand at fullback.
“I told them, I’ll play anything,” he said. “Anything they need me to do, I’ll do it for them.”
Center Freddie Burden, kicker Harrison Butker, Rodwell and defensive linemen Patrick Gamble and Francis Kallon also took part. Gamble and Burden could do only the bench press as they are recovering from injuries.
After a strong showing at the NFL combine, Butker didn’t have his best day, kicking a few field-goal tries wide and one off the upright, but he rallied. He hit a bomb from 58 yards that had room to spare and stood out on kickoffs. He has had private workouts already and figures to have more.
“You miss, you go on to the next one,” Butker said. “I thought I finished well. I thought I really finished well. Those pressure situations to win the game — long field goals — had to make those, and thought I did a good job on those.”
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