Posted: 2:24 am Saturday, March 29th, 2014
By Ken Sugiura
Gleanings from Friday’s goings-on at the John and Mary Brock Football Facility…
1. Former Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu did what he needed to do. Attaochu ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.5-second range, a more than acceptable time for the Yellow Jackets’ all-time sack leader.
He also moved without problem, showing scouts that he is recovered from his torn hamstring suffered at the Senior Bowl in January that kept him sidelined for the NFL draft combine.
By comparison, the 40 times at the combine for a few other top-rated prospects at the outside linebacker spot, where many are projecting Attaochu:
Khalil Mack - 4.65.
Anthony Barr, 4.66
Kyle Van Noy – 4.71
It bears mention that electronically recorded times (which the above three are) are typically slower than manual times.
“I surprised myself a little bit,” Attaochu said.
He also had a vertical of 36.5 inches, which would have been tied for eighth at the combine among linebackers.
2. Friday was the first time that Attaochu ran an all-out 40 since the injury. In rehabbing and training, he did training drills like sprinting for the first 20 yards before throttling back. Attaochu said his injury at the Senior Bowl was so severe that he could barely walk on it the following day.
“I was nervous about my leg,” he said. “When you come off an injury, there’s always that uncertainty and doubt, but the fact that I was able to do all this and I was fine, I’m just grateful and grateful to God that I was able to come out there and run like that.”
More on Attaochu later.
3. The player who helped himself the most may have been linebacker Brandon Watts. He put down an unofficial 4.4 in the 40 and looked agile in position drills. He was helped by the fact that just about all of the scouts at Tech on Friday – all 32 teams were represented – were watching Attaochu when he and Watts did their linebacker drills together. Watts owes Attaochu a pizza or some such token of gratitude for all the eyeballs.
Watts also recorded a vertical leap of 37.5 inches, which would have tied for sixth among linebackers at the combine, and had a broad jump of 10’3”, which would have tied for fourth among linebackers at the combine.
Watts said he spoke with a couple scouts afterwards, usually a good sign that their interest has been piqued.
“Brandon’s a really good athlete,” coach Paul Johnson said. “He’s a fast guy. I’ve said all along he might be one of the faster guys on the team and certainly he ran well today, so it’s good for him.”
4. Defensive back Jemea Thomas also ran an unofficial 4.4, bettering his 4.55 run at the combine. Thomas is likely the No. 2 prospect for Tech after Attaochu. Thomas needed a time like the one he posted to help his résumé of measurables. It won’t change the concerns about his size – 5-foot-9, 191 pounds – but his 40 time at least shouldn’t be one.
5. I didn’t get to watch the offensive line position drills, but center Jay Finch put up by far the best numbers of the four Tech offensive linemen who took part – Ray Beno, Will Jackson and Omoregie Uzzi. He had an unofficial 40 time of 4.90. The fastest time at the combine among linemen was 4.87 and the fastest center was timed at 5.10.
Finch had a broad jump of 9’3” and a vertical of 31.5. His vertical would have been third at the combine and his broad jump would have tied for fifth. Those are all very good numbers for his explosiveness, and he put up a respectable 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
Finch didn’t have a standout career, and had some injury issues, but his numbers will get him another look. He said a few scouts spoke with him after the workout to ask him a few questions and get contact information, which, needless to say, is a good sign for him.
6. Very unofficially, A-back Robbie Godhigh was in the 4.6 range in the 40. Not a surprising time, but not the attention-getting number that he likely needed. Godhigh did, however, hoist up 23 reps in the bench press, which would have tied him for fourth at the combine among running backs.
As reported previously, he was scheduled, as of last week, for a private workout with a CFL team Saturday.
7. Defensive linemen Euclid Cummings and Emmanuel Dieke had the misfortune of going through their position drills while Attaochu was commanding the attention of pretty much all the scouts with his linebacker drills, but their work caused more than a few heads to turn their way as their session went on.
8. More on Attaochu: He did position drills for both linebacker and defensive end. He said he has interest from teams both as a 3-4 outside linebacker and a 4-3 end.
“I’m a football player,” he said. “I can make plays.”
He did have some trouble holding onto the ball in linebacker pass coverage drills, with at least three drops. While noticeable, I don’t think anyone is going to draft him for his pass coverage abilities. He said he had done better in training.
He said he has visits lined up in the next two weeks with Indianapolis, Philadelphia and New England. (He prefaced the last by saying he thought it was New England.)
At the combine, he said he had formal interviews with, among other teams, Tennessee, the New York Jets, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Philadelphia. Among the more unusual questions asked – he was asked to name all the things you can do with a brick in one minute, and then he was also given five words at the start of an interview and then asked a series of questions throughout the interview intended to distract him (“Who was the president of the United States during the Civil War?” “Why do you put stamps on a letter?”) and then asked to recall as many of the words as he could.
He said he remembered two, which apparently was a good score. If you’re wondering, he also got the answers to the aforementioned questions.
As for the brick question, Attaochu said, “You can prop a door open. I didn’t want to say anything violent.”
9. Among other players with notable numbers – B-back David Sims had a 36-inch vertical, a broad jump of 10’4” and 23 bench-press reps, all of which would have been among the top scores for backs at the combine. I don’t have a 40 time for him, but I don’t think it would go in the “blazing” category.
Offensive tackle Ray Beno had 30 bench-press reps, which would have tied him for eighth at the combine among linemen.
Guard Omoregie Uzzi was not a top performer, but he looked a lot trimmer than during his playing days. He weighed in at 295 pounds – five below his listed weight as a senior.
10. Several former players were in attendance, including Orwin Smith, Rod Sweeting and T.J. Barnes. A number of current team members, including Justin Thomas, Synjyn Days, Adam Gotsis and Isaiah Johnson, were also watching, as were several coaches.