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Tag:Georgia Tech
Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:15 pm
 

Hill shows off route-running Ga. Tech's Pro Day

ATLANTA -- Wide receiver Stephen Hill wanted to leave a specific impression with the NFL coaches who flocked to Georgia Tech's pro day.
  
"I just want to show them, because those are the guys who will be drafting me, that I can do great things other than just running deep routes," said the 6-4, 215-pounder, one of the stars of the NFL Combine, where he posted an unofficial 4.36 time in the 40-yard dash.
  
Mission accomplished. With two head coaches -- Atlanta's Mike Smith and Lovie Smith of the Bears -- and most NFL teams in attendance, Hill did his part to continue nudging his draft stock upward.
  
Running a variety of short and intermediate routes, Hill got in and out of his breaks fast and caught all 12 passes, including a fingertip-grab off the turf, form quarterback Eric Ward in Tuesday's workout. Vikings wide receiver coach George Stewart ran the receiver drills and ordered Hill through the route tree.
  
His eye-catching gold and silver Nike Vapor cleats only added to the spectacle. Scouts wanted to see something they didn't on film from Hill -- how he runs routes, if he repeats them with precision and how he tracks the ball over his shoulder and adjusts to poorly thrown passes. Hill was not a featured part of the run-first offense Tech operates.
  
Some scouts might be concerned with Hill's junior season, in which he dropped easily catchable balls but made the spectacular catches.
  
But scouts view him as a natural hands catcher. One observer credited him with five drops and 28 receptions last season.

Hill didn't run the 40-yard dash at pro day. He is 4.36 at the Combine tied for the fastest showing.
  
"I think I kind of showed enough," he said with a laugh when asked about not running at pro day.
  
Hill has been working out under the watchful eye of former Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis
  
"Basically it's just route-running, getting in and out of breaks, making sure I catch the ball with my eyes," he said. "Of course with my hands, but mostly with my eyes."

Several Tech seniors try to impress
Pro day wasn't all about Hill.  Also working out were seven Tech seniors projected as undrafted free agents: RBs Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, DE Jason Peters, LB Steven Sylvester, WR Tyler Melton, DT Logan Walls and CB Rashaad Reid.

According to scouts, Peeples ran a 4.50, followed by Jones (4.53), Reid (4.56), Sylvester (4.75) and Peters (4.83).

Peters benched 225 pounds 28 times. Walls did 24 reps, followed by Sylvester (23), Melton (16), Jones (14), Peeples (14) and Reid (11 3/4).

Melton dropped his first pass but redeemed himself with a twisting, leaping grab.

Tech coach Paul Johnson said Jones and Peeples are "probably third-down backs, slot receivers. Clearly they've done some of that, catching the ball in space. It just depends on how teams see them.

"You hope they all get a chance, they all get into camp and see what happens."

 

 

Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:02 pm
 

GT's Hill rising fast, has scouts retracing steps

The man who might have sent scouts scrambling to the videotape following the end of the combine earlier this week is Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, regarded as among the so-called big winners from the Indy sessions.

Hill caught only 49 balls in three seasons in coach Paul Johnson's run-heavy triple-option offense, yet averaged 25.5 yards per reception, and clocked a blistering 4.36 40 at the combine, with a vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches.

Scouts are already dialing up former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis, the offensive coordinator at Savannah State and a guy who has worked diligently with Hill on route-running, for his take on the wideout.

And people are calling sprint coach Loren Seagraves, who also drew a Falcons paycheck and worked on explosive speed with Hill, and who has a ton of league contacts, for Hill insights.

"Raw in a lot of ways, but some of the stuff he does just makes your jaw drop," Mathis told The Sports Xchange. "There's so much to work with."

Hill said his role model is Detroit stud wideout Calvin Johnson, but the former Yellow Jackets player to whom he is most often compared is Demaryius Thomas, the 22nd overall choice of Denver in 2010.

Thomas was arguably more productive at the college level, with 85 catches in two seasons in Johnson's offense (120 total in three seasons), but was injury-prone and was unable to run at the '10 combine because of a broken foot. Even after he was drafted, Thomas broke the foot a second time, then sustained an Achilles tendon injury.

It's felt at this point that Hill is a tad better route-runner than was Thomas coming out of college, but that the latter might have been a little more physical.

But scouts feel that Hill has similar characteristics to Thomas, who torched the Pittsburgh secondary in Denver's playoff victory two months ago, and want to do a lot more research.

"The size and speed, obviously, are there," agreed one NFC scout. "But, outside of ordering up the tape, you don't want to fall all over yourself yet."

--By Len Pasquarelli
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:19 pm
 

WRs Floyd, Hill out-shine Blackmon Sunday

While the media isn't allowed in to view most of the workouts at the Scouting Combine, a select group of media members were invited in Sunday morning to watch the quarterbacks and receivers' positional drills. 

With NFLDraftScout.com's top-four rated quarterbacks -- Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler -- either unwilling or unable to throw at the Combine, it was the pass-catchers rather than the passers who stole the show.  This fact is all the more interesting considering that the highest regarded player at the position struggled to live up to his lofty billing. 
 
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon entered the week as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated wide receiver and viewed as a potential top five prospect but a rather ho-hum performance Sunday morning may put his perch at the top in peril. 

Blackmon demonstrated the strong hands and body control Sunday that he'd used to earn back to back Biletnikof awards as the nation's top wideout but it appeared that he was limited by the hamstring injury he'd cited as the reason he wouldn't be running the 40-yard dash this week. Blackmon had to gather himself a bit when cutting and never showed the top-end speed scouts would expect of an elite prospect. The key will be how much improvement Blackmon shows when he works out for scouts at his March 7 Pro Day. If he shows improved burst during the workout on the Oklahoma State campus, scouts will likely chalk up his Combine workout as an example of a player simply being limited by injury. If he isn't more impressive, however, Baylor's Kendall Wright and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd are very much in the race to be the first receiver selected in the 2012 draft. 

Floyd certainly helped his cause by running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds (unofficially) at 6-3, 220 pounds and showing excellent hands, flexibility, and surprisingly precise routes. Whether it was drifting across the middle during the gauntlet drill, dropping his hips on quick comeback routes or showing the ability to track the ball over either shoulder deep, Floyd consistently plucked the ball out of air, quickly secured it and got upfield in one fluid motion.

Perhaps the surprise star among receivers, however, was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. Possessing a similarly freakish combination of size and speed as his Yellow Jacket predecessor Demaryius Thomas, the 6-4, 215 pound Hill was credited with a blistering 4.30 time in the 40-yard (unofficial) and showed the sticky hands and excellent body control he'd flashed as a big play specialist in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. If there was a concern about Hill's workout it would be that he seemed a bit stiff when re-directing. His quick acceleration and top-end speed, however, were every bit as obvious with the ball in his hands as they were when he was running the 40-yard dash.

Of the quarterbacks throwing in the morning session, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins was clearly the most polished. While he does not possess a cannon for an arm, Cousins showed enough zip and excellent accuracy on the deep out and was particularly accurate on the post-corner route -- a throw many view as the most difficult asked of quarterbacks during the Combine workout. Cousins does the little things well. While other passers struggled with their footwork and release point, Cousins' has a clean set-up and delivery and consistently stared down the middle as he dropped back, mimicking the form he'd use during a game to look off the safety before turning to fire passes to the outside. Considering his four years starting experience, two years as a captain and experience in a pro-style offense, don't be surprised if Cousins enjoys a late rise up draft boards very similar to the one Andy Dalton enjoyed a year ago. 

Two relatively unheralded quarterbacks also took advantage of the big stage to turn some heads. Southern Mississippi's Austin Davis and Richmond's Aaron Corp each showed enough arm strength and accuracy to prove that they belonged. Davis' touch on the deep ball was particularly impressive. 

On the flipside, Arizona's Nick Foles and Houston's Case Keenum struggled. Each were erratic with their accuracy, especially on longer routes. Foles has good enough tape to withstand the disappointing workout. Keenum, short and sporting a 3/4 release, may have an uphill climb ahead of him to get drafted despite a sparkling collegiate career.         
             
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:34 am
 

Under radar underclassmen set to light up combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off Wednesday, nearly every where you look you'll find another analyst with a list of athletes who could put up astonishing workout numbers. 

Dane Brugler and I collaborated on a that identified ten players with questions to answer in Indianapolis. Our colleague, Bruce Feldman, identified ten "athletic freaks" who should put forth some of the best numbers of any players invited to the combine this year.    

The simple reality of the combine season is that only occasionally are scouts surprised by the athleticism shown by prospects. At least among the senior prospects, scouts have been looking at them all year long and know what to expect. Prospects who don't perform well despite having a month (or more) typically to prepare for the very specific drills tested serve as more of a red flag to most talent evaluators than a surprisingly strong workout usually helps a prospect. 

The story is very different for underclassmen, however. 

Teams haven't had nearly as much time to prepare for these athletes and considering that the 2012 draft will feature a record 65 underclassmen, no year in history has as much potential for under the radar underclassmen to emphatically put their names on the map than this one. 

Rather than wait to see which underclassmen will surprise, I thought I'd take a chance at predicting five I believe could light up the combine and see a significant boost to their draft stock, as a result. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris has been a bit of a forgotten man since multiple run-ins with authorities led to his ultimately being kicked off the team by head coach Chip Kelly. While he'll certainly need to answer scouts' questions, once Harris is allowed to show off his athletic gifts, I believe he'll quickly force NFL teams to recognize his upside. After playing at less than 170 pounds throughout much of his career with the Ducks, scouts will be just as interested in how Harris physically measures up as well as how fast he runs, etc.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Hill reminds me a lot of former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas for his size, straight-line speed and big play ability. NFLDraftScout.com is currently estimating Hill as being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. I think he'll shave a tenth off that time, as well as impress in leaping drills. He's undeniably raw but don't be surprised if a strong showing in Indianapolis pushes Hill into the second round.

OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi:
Massie signed with Ole Miss as one of the elite prep talents in the country but partially due to the anonymous nature of the right tackle position and to Ole Miss' relative struggles, Massie isn't getting much attention in the mainstream media. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he shows very impressive athleticism, balance and power in drills based on his tape. The "big three" junior tackles -- USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- get the bulk of the attention but with the position essentially wide open after them, don't be surprised if Massie gives Ohio State's Mike Adams a run for his money as the 4th tackle off the board.

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Osweiler is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated quarterback and No. 45-rated prospect, overall, so he hardly qualifies as under the radar. However, considering the amount of hype being generated around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and even Ryan Tannehill, the lanky Osweiler hasn't received the national attention his talent warrants. If Osweiler can calm concerns about his mobility at a estimated 6-7, 240 pounds, scouts won't be able to resist admiring his strong, accurate arm.

CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson is one of three relatively "unknown" cornerbacks that I am significantly higher on than most (the other two are seniors Ryan Steed from Furman and Trumaine Johnson from Montana). Robinson's speed, agility and leaping ability jump off tape. If he works out as well as I think he will based on the athleticism I've seen on the field, scouts may have a hard time justifying Robinson not winding up a top 100 pick.        
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:50 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Yellow Jackets stung by Hill's surprise NFL leap

Despite catching just 28 passes in 2011 and receiving an unfavorable grade from the NFL's Advisory Committee, wide receiver Stephen Hill has decided to leave Georgia Tech for a shot at the pros.

According to Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hill came to the decision after conferring with his parents, head coach Paul Johnson and receivers coach Buzz Preston. Hill's grade was not specifically given, but reading between the lines of Sugiura's report it sounds like the scouts graded Hill as a possible day three (rounds four through seven) pick.

Johnson's triple option offense rarely puts the ball in receivers' hands. Georgia Tech's scheme calls for big, athletic and strong receivers who can sneak downfield for the occasional deep pass but whose primary role is to provide blocking on the perimeter. Like former first round picks Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, the 6-5, 206 pound Hill has the bulk to certainly catch scouts' attention. At that size, if he were to run anything lower than a 4.60, he'd have a shot at getting drafted. And if he were to run considerably faster, Hill's stock could improve in a hurry as he's certainly shown flashes of playmaking skills.

While Hill only caught 28 passes in 2011 they resulted in a gaudy 820 yards. That means Hill averaged 29.3 yards per reception. That led the nation and is the best YPC average in Georgia Tech history.

The concern is that Hill remains a very raw receiver. Not only do his routes need a lot of work, so does his hands. Hill made some notable drops over his career. To be fair, he's also demonstrated spectacular leaping ability and rare hand strength to make some dazzling catches. Prior to his "breakout" 2011 performance, Hill caught just 15 passes in 2010 and four as a redshirt freshman.  For his career, Hill caught 49 passes for 1,248 yards (25.47) and nine scores.

Knowing that he lacks the experience catching the ball to impress scouts, Hill acknowledged that his ultimate draft grade may hinge on how he works out.

“With my size and my ability, I know I could raise my stock,” he said.

NFLDraftScout.com has some faith in his ability to do so. He was ranked as our No. 6 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2013.






Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:35 pm
 

Wilson dazzles, fumbles, dazzles again vs. GTech

Virginia Tech junior running back David Wilson is among the nation's more explosive runners. At 5-10, 205 pounds Wilson has reportedly been timed in the 4.3s. The speed, elusiveness and determination that made Wilson NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 rated running back for the 2012 draft was on display Thursday night against Georgia Tech as he rushed for a career high 177 yards. Thursday's effort was Wilson's seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing game. 

With such an impressive track record, Georgia Tech knew heading into the key ACC showdown knowing precisely who they had to focus on to stop the Virginia Tech offense. Early in the game, the Yellow Jackets looked up to the task, repeatedly beating the Hokies' offensive line with quick penetration to corral Wilson at or behind the line of scrimmage.   

Wilson was often able to make the first defender miss Thursday evening due to his impressive lateral agility and explosiveness. When given a lane, Wilson burst through the line of scrimmage quickly, gaining yardage in chunks. Like most speedsters, Wilson prefers to cut towards the sidelines, but he demonstrated the toughness and vision to cut back into the middle, as well.

Unfortunately, Wilson also proved that he has plenty to work on in perfecting his craft, not the least of which was poor ball handling technique that led to a fumble in the mid-third quarter. 

Wilson had the ball punched out with the Hokies driving into the redzone. The play was the eighth in a series that began on their own 12-yard line and ended with nothing to show for it at the Georgia Tech 16. The Yellow Jackets recovered and scored, taking their last lead before the Hokies pulled away in the final stanza.      

Wilson nearly had the ball ripped away earlier in the quarter, but a quick snap by Virginia Tech on the next play didn't give head coach Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech much time to view the replay.

In each case, Wilson simply allowed the ball to get too far away from his body.    

The ball security issue would appear to be one that is correctable through coaching. What makes Wilson unique is that he possesses the natural explosiveness that no amount of coaching can provide.        
Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Could option make Denver the Georgia Tech of NFL?

For the first time in his two seasons as a Denver Bronco, Tim Tebow was allowed to function in the spread option offense that he helped make famous while at the University of Florida.

The result was a surprisingly dominant running game (299 rushing yards, two touchdowns) against the Oakland Raiders Sunday. The victory made Tebow 2-1 in his three starts this season and shockingly enough put the Broncos only a game behind first place in the AFC West.

Coaches have long argued that the option offense would not work in the NFL as defensive players at the professional level are simply too fast. The same, however, was said about the spread offense and while I'm not about to suggest that June Jones or Steve Spurrier's current schemes would work against the Baltimore Ravens' defense, the proliferation of a shotgun-based offense has helped make the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots (to name a few) some of the league's most lethal passing attacks.

Quite frankly, I am among those who do not believe the option (or spread option, in this case) is going to be consistently effective against NFL teams. However, I do believe that whatever time and effort a team can force an opponent to specifically game-plan against them is energy well spent.

After all, this is the primary reason why many have suggested that Paul Johnson's triple-option offense has been successful at Georgia Tech (and previously at Navy, Georgia Southern). It isn't that his Yellow Jackets boast elite talent. Since he took over at Georgia Tech, only wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ironically enough, also a Bronco) has been taken higher than the fourth round after playing on the offensive side of the ball for Johnson. Simply put, few NCAA teams are capable of mastering defense of the option with only one week in which to prepare for it.

The same could wind up being true for the Denver Broncos.

One thing is certain. The Kansas City Chiefs will have prepared for Tebow and the spread option much more than the Oakland Raiders had. Whether Denver is successful running this offense or not, the fact that they've forced the Chiefs to devote time to game-planning for their unique attack gives Denver an advantage (albeit maybe only a slight one) heading into a key divisional game.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State:  Of the second tier quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class, Cousins remains one of my favorites. He doesn't possess an elite arm and, as such, could be challenged in this matchup against a Nebraska defense that features one of the better press corners in Alfonzo Dennard. Representatives from the Senior Bowl have made it known that Cousins is among the quarterbacks vying for an invitation. With the rest of the games on the 6-1 Spartans' schedule very winnable, a strong performance in this game could not only put MSU in position for a big time bowl game, it could give Cousins a chance to impress scouts in Mobile. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Jaye Howard, Florida:  Howard isn't flashy, but is quietly having a career year for the Gators. In fact, Howard has already surpassed his previous career high of 29 tackles with 33 so far this season, including 2.5 for loss. Georgia's monstrous redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers will get more of the hype entering this game and deserves it... I'm more interested, however, to see if Howard is able to make some plays despite facing a talented Georgia offensive line, including Bulldogs' center Ben Jones -- who some believe is the elite senior in the country at his position. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

ILB Arthur Brown, Kansas State: The Kansas State Wildcats are one of the better stories so far this season, but I do not believe they have the talent to compete with an Oklahoma team that must be smarting after their upset loss last week against Texas Tech. One of the few Wildcats that has flashed NFL-caliber talent this season is junior linebacker, Arthur Brown, a transfer from Miami. At 6-1, 225, Brown lacks the bulk most teams are looking for at inside linebacker, but his athleticism and closing speed could intrigue 4-3 teams looking for a weakside prospect. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: Many believe that Tech's triple option offense will present Clemson with their biggest regular season challenge to a potential berth in a BCS bowl game. (I'd argue South Carolina could have something to say about that.) For the Tigers to slow down the Yellow Jackets, Clemson's defensive ends will have to show remarkable discipline. This hasn't always been a strength for Branch and the rest of the Clemson defensive line, which typically are asked to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback. At 6-4, 260 pounds Branch has enough athleticism to chase ball-carriers wide. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Matt Barkley, USC: There are many out there who believe Barkley is simply a game-manager blessed to have a great deal of talent around him. I am not among them. In fact, I rate the USC junior signal-caller behind only Andrew Luck as the elite prospect potentially available for the 2012 draft. As such, I'm excited to see what Barkley will do in the heavily anticipated showdown against Luck and an underrated Cardinal defense Saturday night. Barkley doesn't possess a monster arm nor the great size that traditionally result in a top five pick. I've been consistently impressed with his poise in a collapsing pocket, however, as well as his leadership as well as his short to intermediate accuracy. Most importantly, I like his footwork and accuracy when rolling out and in play-action -- staples of the pro game. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com