With NFL Free Agency dying down and the Draft in less than a month, team needs are starting to become clear. Prospects are also learning more about which teams are interested in them and at which positions. Georgia Tech doesn't have any early round prospects this year, but this group of seniors could provide incredible value in the mid to late rounds of the draft for teams which utilize them properly. So which teams could do just that? I've found a few matches for the 4 guys I think have the best chance to get drafted this year. It doesn't currently look like Laskey, Johnson, and Nealy will be drafted, but I believe they'll end up being steals as UDFAs!
Currently Tech's most heralded prospect, scouts are drooling over Waller's combination of size and athleticism. Former Cowboys VP of Player Personnel Gil Brandt is calling him a draft "steal." Teams balk a bit at the fact that he was a late bloomer, but he stepped up big after Smelter's injury and became the fearsome deep threat Justin Thomas needed. Since he is so much larger than many of the other receivers in this draft, he has been labeled as a WR/TE hybrid. At which position he ends up will depend on the team that drafts him, but he has said that he would be open to playing either position. So, which teams need a red zone monster like Waller?
Kansas City Chiefs
I don't know if any KC fans read this blog, but I'm sure all of them are tired about hearing how their WRs didn't score a single TD in 2014. It's an incredible stat, and one I'm sure the front office will be trying to correct. Adding someone like Waller could take the pressure off of TE Travis Kelce and RB Jamaal Charles in the red zone, and could help to ease the loss of Dwayne Bowe. The Cheifs did sign Jeremy Maclin this offseason, but Waller could add size to their WR corps and complement Maclin well.
This is an outcome many Tech fans would love to see, and it could definitely happen. The Falcons have not properly replaced Tony Gonzalez since his retirement, and Waller could be the guy. I could see him playing either TE or WR here. Julio Jones is a great WR, but having another red zone threat would help take some of the pressure off. Roddy White isn't getting any younger either.
New Orleans Saints
With the shocking trade of Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, Drew Brees needs some help. Graham was a TD machine his entire time in New Orleans, and needs to be replaced. Problem is, the Saints have more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball that they will need to address in the early rounds. This may make Waller a prime target in the mid rounds, where he'll provide great value.
New England Patriots
This one would be interesting. Before Aaron Hernandez was arrested on murder charges, the Pats loved to run 2 tight end sets, and did so with great success. It's now more of a one many show starring Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots could really look at Waller or someone similar to bring back the capability they had before.
The scouts can believe what they want to believe. Smelter is the best WR to come out of Georgia Tech since Demaryius Thomas. The ACL injury could not have come at a worse time, and I think he'd be in the conversation as a second round pick if he had remained healthy. At the combine, his hands were measured at 11", helping to explain why he was so reliable and had so few drops. For reference, his hands are almost 2 inches bigger than Waller's, and were the biggest of all WRs in this class. But that's not all that's outstanding about Smelter. He's great after the catch, as pointed out by nfl.com's Daniel Jeremiah. Going back and watching his tape from this season, it becomes apparent how fluid and quick he is. It's almost RB-like. Any team that needs someone who can get yards after the catch(YAC) can get a late round steal in Deandre Smelter.
Ok, I'll admit my bias here. I'm a Panthers fan, and I'm really hoping we take Smelter with one of our 3 5th round picks. Drafting Kelvin Benjamin last year kept the receiving corps from being a huge disaster, but Smelter would add a nice complement. Benjamin isn't much for getting YAC, and Smelter would evnetually be an upgrade over Jerricho Cotchery at the WR2 spot.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers lost Michael Crabtree this offseaons, and Anquan Boldin is....old. They added Torrey Smith, but it's not enough. Smelter's reliability could help him be Boldin's replacement as a possession receiver, and his ability after the catch would make him an even better target for San Fran.
Similar Situation to San Francisco. The Raven's lost Torrey Smith and, while I love Steve Smith, he's 36 and can't play forever. Joe Flacco needs weapons, and Deandre Smelter could be the do it all type of receiver that he needs in order to be elite!(I'll see myself out now)
Mason's numbers at Pro Day really helped his draft stock. Running the 40 in under 5 seconds is great for an interior lineman, and he showed quickness and agility as well. Teams want to move him to Center due to his height, and he proved to teams he could snap the ball at Pro Day as well. Mason also showed at the Senior Bowl that he can pass block, though that area of his game still needs to work. Run heavy teams will covet his ability to get off the ball and drive opponents back, however.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are a team that needs help on the interior of its offensive line. According to our very own Tyler Duke, a Pats scout worked Mason privately at pro day, so there is at least some interest here. The Patriot's aren't a particularly run heavy team, but if they like him at Center, it could be a good fit.
The team closest to Shaq's home town in Tennessee could take a good look at him this draft season. The Titans have a lot of holes to fill on their roster, and could stand to upgrade a ton of positions across the offensive line. If they address other needs in the early rounds, they could look to Shaq in the later rounds.
In exchange for Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks sent Center Max Unger to the Saints along with a 1st round draft pick. Considering Russell Wilson's impending pay day, they'll need to replace him in order to protect their investment. Now that Seattle lacks a 1st rounder, they'll have to look to the later rounds to fix their holes. This may lead them to pick up Mason.
This one was difficult. The main issue is defining Days' role in an NFL offense. Is he a fullback? Is he a tailback? Some kind of hybrid? It probably depends on the team looking at him, and he'll need to get with a team that can utilize him properly in order to have success at the next level.
By NFL standards, the Panthers' offense is somewhat old fashioned. It's built around the run, and the team carries a FB/TB hybrid in Mike Tolbert and a FB/TE hybrid in Richie Brockel. I think could Synjyn fitting either or both of these roles. Tolbert will turn 30 this season, and that's never a good thing for a RB who has been battling injuries. I'd personally love to see Days become "Riverboat" Ron Rivera's 4th down ace in the coming years. He could easily put the required weight on his frame, as he reportedly played in the mid 240s at the end of last season. I think this type of role may be what's best for him in the NFL.
Arizona signed Jonathan Dwyer last offseason to be a powerful complement to the versatile Andre Ellington. With Dwyer's off the field trouble this season, they may move on to someone else. Ellington, who excels as a receiving back, would be well complemented by Synjyn's power. Days could also be an excellent pass protector for Carson Palmer, who is nearing the end of his career and coming off a major injury.
Green Bay Packers
John Kuhn has been a staple in the Green Bay Packers' offense for many years, but he'll be 33 in September and still hasn't re-signed with the team. At 6'0", 250 lbs, he and Days have similar frames, and Days could be an even better runner. If the Packers decide to continue to carry a fullback on the team, Days could be the pick. He could help protect arguably the best QB in the league, be a receiving threat out of the backfield, and take some of the load off Eddie Lacy in short yardage situations. Could be a good fit.
What Say You?
If you feel I missed any possible fits for these guys, please comment and let me know. I plan on following this up after the draft, seeing how I did, and predicting their roles on the teams that actually drafted them.