NFL scouts have flocked to Georgia for years as a go-to stop on the Pro Day circuit.
More than ever on Wednesday with 122 team personnel in attendance at the indoor training facility for a packed group of hopefuls for next month’s draft.
“When you’re the best, everyone wants to see the best,” said nose guard Jordan Davis. “This year we had an all-star team, we had a spectacular season, literally a written storybook.”
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Among those in attendance were coaches Bill Belichick (Patriots), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Mike McCarthy (Cowboys) and Lovie Smith (Texans) and general managers Joe Schoen (Giants) and Kevin Colbert (Steelers).
“I remember watching Mike Tomlin at the Super Bowl,” offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer said. “I’m glad they respect us enough to come see us.”
After three of Georgia’s top-rated prospects — projected first-round defensive linemen Travon Walker, Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt — posted an impressive NFL reaper 40 times, we expected to see what the linebacker inside Nakobe Dean could score after not running at Indianapolis.
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He didn’t because of a chest strain he suffered in practice in Dallas while working on the bench press for the combine. Dean did linebacker drills Wednesday with Quay Walker and Channing Tindall who formed a trio of playmakers for the Bulldogs in the middle of defense.
“I had a little setback in practice and started really running last Tuesday,” Dean said. ” I just came back. I knew I wanted to come here and do something, go out there with my guys. I know this may be one of the last times I get to work with Quay and Channing.
NFL-bound Georgia players were back on campus where the number 2021 is proudly displayed on the indoor facility wall listing national championship seasons.
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Georgia had the most 14 players from any country in the combined NFL on that team.
The 6-foot-5, 341-pound Davis ran a revealing 4.78 at the combine, the 6-foot-3, 304-pound Wyatt ran even faster at 4.77, and the 6-foot-5 Walker and 272 pounds posted a 4.52 in a workout that highlighted his athleticism.
“I got my unofficial time and I was like, woah,” Davis said. “Then when I got my official time, I was like a holy schmoley.”
Walker dined at a steakhouse in downtown Athens with the Jaguars on Tuesday night. Davis and Wyatt shared a meal alone.
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“We had to have a salad,” said Wyatt, who, like Davis, did positional drills on Wednesday. “We have been eating well since we came back from the combine harvester. We ran that 4.7, so we had a blast, but had to eat salad the last few days to get that weight there.
Dean said it was “definitely a little frustrating” not being able to run and “time will tell” if he’ll be able to run a 40 for the teams ahead of the April 28-30 draft.
“I think he made the best decision,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Dean, the Butkus Award winner for the nation’s top linebacker, set up a three-year streak for the teams, including last season when he led Georgia with 10 ½ tackles for a loss, had six sacks, two interceptions and finished second on the team with 72 tackles.
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The 5-foot-11, 231-pound Horn Lake, Mississippi native is widely projected as a first-round pick.
“They’re watching the movie,” Dean said. “They will think what they think.”
Dean said he met the Steelers, Patriots and Giants this week.
He is probably his toughest critic, including in field exercises. He said he missed a few pitched balls on his way, but says he considers himself the best linebacker in the draft.
“My legs got a little tired, got a little heavy,” he said, which he attributed to his return to the pitch last week.
Wide receiver George Pickens, who ran a 4.47 at the combine after returning from a torn ACL, caught passes from current Bulldog QB Carson Beck on positional drills.
Pickens said he showed teams “that I can run routes – fast. My knee didn’t have a brace. I’m taller and I ran fast.
Pickens said he was so focused on the pre-draft process that he realized it was his 21st birthday on March 4 when he saw the date on his phone that day during the combine week.
Only two Georgia players ran the 40 on Wednesday: cornerback Derion Kendrick had an unofficial time in the 4.8 range but said he suffered from a hamstring injury and defensive tackle Julian Rochester was in the range of 5.5.
Travon Walker said the Eagles (No. 15 overall), Jaguars (No. 1) and Giants (No. 5) have shown particular interest.
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The Steelers have the 20th overall pick. Matt Stinchcomb of the SEC Network asked Tomlin if Davis could become a Steeler.
“I doubt it,” Tomlin said. “I think he may have hugged (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell at that time.”