Former Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill not only helped himself with his standout performance at the NFL draft combine, but he brought a lot attention to his former Yellow Jackets teammates.
Scouts or coaches from at least 31 of the 32 NFL teams attended Tech’s Pro Day at its indoor facility Tuesday morning. With the remainder of Tech’s draft entrants looking like undrafted free-agent candidates, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t have gotten nearly the audience without Hill and his soaring draft stock. Wide receiver Tyler Melton, running backs Roddy Jones, Embry Peeples and Lucas Cox, defensive linemen Jason Peters and Logan Walls, linebacker Steven Sylvester and safety Rashaad Reid all got the chance to turn heads.
Melton took part in wide-receiver drills with Hill, including a deep route to the sideline in which he reeled in the pass by leaping high while falling backward.
Said Melton of Hill, “He gave us the best shot possible.”
Coach Paul Johnson said he could see Jones and Peeples getting looks as third-down backs or slot receivers. Both players took part in receiver drills with Hill and Melton and took handoffs as tailbacks with Cox. Jones said he has watched New England Patriots running backs and thought he could fill that role in that offense. Peeples and Jones ran respectable 40-yard dash times of 4.50 and 4.53 seconds, respectively.
Training for Pro Day, Peters lost about 10 pounds, to about 255 pounds, while gaining muscle mass. He ran defensive-line drills with Walls and also went through linebacker drills. His 40 time of 4.83 seconds would have been 14th among the 49 defensive linemen who ran the 40 at the combine.
“I think I did what I came here for,” he said. “I gave everything I have.”
Burnett decision soon
Johnson said he’ll meet with linebacker Julian Burnett at the end of the week to discuss his playing status. Burnett suffered an injury in the Sun Bowl, and Johnson has said he’ll leave it to Burnett to disclose his condition.
“We’re going to have to decide here pretty quick,” Johnson said, noting the start of spring practice March 26. “I’d be surprised if he was out there, but we’ll see.”
A-back Orwin Smith watched the Pro Day with a protective boot on his right foot after having surgery to repair a turf-toe injury to his right big toe. Smith will miss spring practice, along with guard Omoregie Uzzi, to rehabilitate the injury.
With Tech’s top three A-backs from 2011, Smith, Jones and Peeples, out or graduated, “it’s going to be wide open for the guys that actually want to prove themselves,” Smith said.