Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.
Since Paul Johnson took over, it seems like the talent coming out of Georgia Tech has certainly diminished a bit. Of course, they’re still churning out some elite receivers, but with a diminished recruiting pipeline and a gimmick offense, you’re starting to see a reduced pool of NFL-caliber players at Tech. This year in particular, there’s no one even within sniffing distance of the NFL Draft’s first two days, though former ‘Jackets could still provide some late-round value just the same.
T.J. Barnes, DT, Senior (Projected: Sixth Round)
Barnes’s size (6’6″ 369 pounds) is both a blessing and a curse, providing him with the power to manhandle opposing linemen, while also inspiring some fear he’s a health problem waiting to happen. Surprisingly, however, Barnes and his large frame can still put up a 5.19 40-yard dash time (mildly astounding, actually), which also leaves scouts to wonder how fast he could be if he just trimmed down 20 pounds or so. The weight issue won’t stop him from getting drafted at all, but the second he’s selected, you can bet that’ll be the first item addressed with his new employer. If he can get that under control, he’ll certainly be able to easily earn and keep a pro roster spot.
Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
First-team All-ACC this past year, Uzzi should’ve been able to parlay that into a late-round selection. That is, until he underwent knee surgery in January and was not invited to the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. For large offensive linemen like Uzzi (6’3″ and 305 pounds), that type of procedure automatically raises red flags for scouts — fair or not — and it’s the primary reason he’s fallen off draft boards. For teams willing to take a flyer on him as a free agent though, they’ll get a strong guard with a quick first move off the snap and plenty of run-blocking ability.
Rod Sweeting, CB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
In many drafts, Sweeting would probably have what it takes to hear his name called on day three, but when the defensive selection pool is this deep, it’s not sure-thing for him. He’s certainly got the speed to make it as a pro (4.39 40-yard dash time), but his lack of size (5’11” and 189 pounds) is cause for concern against the growing number of larger, physical receivers in the NFL. He did do very well in the lead-up to the East-West Shrine Game, which helps his case, but his selection will likely come down to two things: does a team want to emphasize coverage over turnovers? And are they willing to overlook his lack of size? If a team’s okay with both, then he’ll be picked. If not, he won’t. Plain and simple.
Orwin Smith, RB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
On paper, Smith has the right speed and size (4.56 40-yard dash, 6’0″ and 201 pounds) to be part of a successful two-back system. But scouts are concerned both about his January shoulder surgery and the fact that he ran the ball as part of the triple-option. No team runs any semblance of that offensive set in the NFL, preferring typical hand-offs and pitch plays over the gimmicky triple-option, meaning he’ll need to adjust first and foremost. He’s a strong runner, and will certainly be in someone’s camp come the summer. However, without much relate-able experience to the pros and no skillset that stands too far above other prospects, he’s fighting an uphill battle.