ATHENS — Pro day is kind of like national signing day in recruiting. You never hear somebody say that it didn’t go well.
That said, we’re going to do our best to assess what we saw Wednesday at UGA’s annual Pro Day extravaganza. 20 former Bulldogs signed up for the workout for NFL coaches and talent evaluators on the one field left at the Woodruff Practice complex. Not all of them showed their wares.
Some of them did every drill that was conducted, some did very little and some worked out only in selected disciplines. Virtually all of them felt they had only enhanced their NFL draft stock.
“I talked to a few of the scouts,” tailback Keith Marshall said. “They told me I had a good day.”
Regardless of how they may or may not have done, it was an extremely important day for all of them. Georgia, like many of the frontline SEC programs, attracts a large number of NFL executives to its pro day. The Atlanta Falcons had 11 representatives at Wednesday’s proceedings, which was also attended by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the Buffalo Bills’ Rex Ryan and new Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer.
“It’s almost more intense than a game,” said outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who also worked out at the NFL Combine last month. “This is a job interview.”
Georgia players who were reported to have been in attendance Wednesday included Sterling Bailey, Collin Barber, Patrick Beless, Devin Bowman, Josh Dawson, James DeLoach, Leonard Floyd, Jake Ganus, Quayvon Hicks, Kolton Houston, John Huff, Jenkins, Marshall, Chris Mayes, Malcolm Mitchell, Marshall Morgan, Jay Rome, John Theus and Nathan Theus.
Here’s a snapshot of how the day went for some of them:
Jordan Jenkins, OLB: Jenkins was disappointed in the 4.8-plus second 40-yard dash he recorded at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. He did improve on that with an official 4.76, though some scouts had him in the 4.6s on his two runs. And Jenkins’ decision to participate in virtually every test appears to have helped him. “I feel like I definitely improved my numbers in my workouts. I got 19 (repetitions) on the bench (press); last time I got 16. Jumped 10-3 on the broad (jump), got a 38 vert. So I feel better and feel like I improved on what I did at the combine.”
Keith Marshall, RB: Marshall was the star of the NFL combine by clocking the only sub-4.3 time this year and finishing fourth among running backs with 25 reps on the 225-pound bench. But scouts wanted to see how Marshall did in cutting and agility tests such as the “20-yard shuttle” and “three-cone” drill. And Marshall was confident he’d impressed them. “The biggest thing for me was my conditioning because, for the combine, it was more straight-line speed. I knew I was going to come out here and they were going to put me through a lot of drills.”
Kolton Houston, OL: The six-year man from Buford didn’t blow away anybody with his workout numbers — does it really matter if a lineman runs a 5.35 40? — but Houston impressed scouts with his versatility. In addition to having the ability to play guard or tackle, as he did at Georgia, Houston also worked out at center and snapped the ball with the quarterback both under center and in the shotgun. Being able to play any position on the line is particularly valuable with NFL roster-size limits.
Josh Dawson, DL: Dawson’s size as another one of Georgia’s converted outside linebackers is going to be an issue. But his athleticism continues to raise eyebrows and create chatter among NFL scouts. The former Tucker High standout ran a 4.82 40, recorded a 33-inch vertical leap and out-lifted all his D-line brethren with 21 reps.
WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell: Mitchell’s stock has been gradually increasing as teams continue to look at him as a defensive back. Mitchell said he’d still like to be a receiver at the next level, but he said at least five teams have now talked to him about possibly playing defensive back and he did DB position drills at the end of Wednesday’s workouts. “It’s been part of the process ever since the combine,” Mitchell said afterward. “Ever since then I opened it up and said I’m open to working at that position and happy to play it if somebody drafts me at it.”
OLB/DE Leonard Floyd: Based on what he did Wednesday, you’d have to say it was a disappointing day. Floyd did not complete the workout due to what he said was a “stomach problem.” He walked off the field during the middle of an agility drill. But it’s all relative as Floyd is generally considered a borderline first-round draft choice. Weighing 248 pounds now, Floyd already wowed scouts with his 4.5 40 time at the combine, and they like his versatility having played five positions in Georgia’s defense. “He’s a very good football player,” Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said. “He’s very athletic. He has the size and the arm length. He has a lot of what people are looking for. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see a full workout here. People are here to watch the big-ticket guys. That’s an important thing for them. I see him over there. Hopefully it’s something that’s not serious. I think it was a stomach.”
P Collin Barber: Barber had a very difficult senior season in which he ultimately lost his job to quarterback Brice Ramsey. His problems with consistency were underscored on Wednesday as he hit several nice punts and at least one perfect “coffin-corner,” but also punted one over the fence and into Smith Street next to the practice field.
Jay Rome, TE: Rome, once considered the No. 1 tight end in America as a recruiting prospect, had a somewhat disappointing college career that was marred with injuries. But he has remained serious about his NFL pursuits and trained this winter in Denver wither Peter Shaffer and Authentic Athletics. “I thought I jumped really well, I thought I caught the ball really well, ran my routes well,” he said. “I just wanted to come out and have fun, ultimately, and show these guys that I still love love it. This is what I always wanted to do and I’ve been working really hard at it.”
Jake Ganus, LB: Georgia’s defensive captain and MVP is going to be very difficult for NFL types to quantify. While he was productive enough at Georgia to get an invite to the Senior Bowl in January, he was unable to parlay that into an NFL Combine invite. So Ganus arrived with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. And he did reasonably well. He clocked a 4.77 in the 40 — tweaking his hamstring slightly in the process — and went 30.5 on the vertical job. “It was a good experience. I did the best I could,” he said.
Sterling Bailey, DE: Bailey played three different positions in Georgia’s defensive line and that versatility is bringing him a lot of positive attention from the NFL. Though considered undersized for the next level, his athleticism makes him enticing. He ran a 5-flat 40 and reached 30.5 inches on his vertical leap. “After one of my 40s I heard one of the scouts say, ‘hmm, really nice!'” said Bailey, who also worked out at the combine. “I think I did really well. I felt really good about it.”