Note: Sorry this is a bit late guys, it's been a rough 2 weeks for me, but I'm happy to be writing again!
Now that the draft is over, 3 Georgia Tech Seniors were drafted, and 4 others were signed as Undrafted Free Agents. Chris Stanley already put out a great report on the UDFAs which can be found here. Here we'll look at how the 3 players drafted will contribute.
Shaq Mason 4th Round: Patriots
The New England Patriots followed through with their pro day interest in Mason by drafting him in the 4th round, making him the highest Georgia Tech player drafted this year, which was somewhat of a surprise. Personally, I expected Darren Waller to be selected first, and he lasted until the 6th round. This was a great place for Mason to land, however, and I was encouraged by Bill Belichick's comments on Mason after the draft.
Belichick - "We think (Shaq) Mason is probably the best run blocker in the entire draft"— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) May 3, 2015
I also loved this quote from Belichick that I found in Phil Perry's piece on Mason:
"I’d say he’s ahead in the run-blocking, behind in the pass-blocking. There may be other players that are in a two-point stance pass-block 50 times a game that in all honestly don’t run block very well. He’s kind of the flip of that which is a little bit unusual but it is what it is."
Georgia Tech offensive linemen are often criticized because they didn't pass block, but there are many offenses out there that don't run block. The media doesn't usually note this because the NFL has become a league dominated by the pass, but it's still important that a player be able to do both when playing in a pro system.
Shaq is a great for the Pats due to their needs. They needed interior OL, and they got just that. He will need to compete for the Right Guard spot with Tre Jackson of Florida State, who was at one point committed to Tech. Jackson will have the edge in pass protection, but Shaq is more athletic and can play any of the 3 interior OL positions. Unlike many teams, the Patriots seem to see Mason as someone who can play Guard or Center. He'll likely get his first looks at Guard due to Bryan Stork already being on the team. Many other teams pegged him as just a center. I'm excited to see what Mason does with this team.
Deandre Smelter 4th Round: 49ers
Before the draft, I wrote this. and it ended up being pretty spot on.
The 49ers lost Michael Crabtree this offseason, 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.
Given the need in San Fran, this is another great fit, and will allow Smelter to learn under Anquan Boldin while he recovers from his ACL tear. I visited some 49ers boards after the pick and the general consensus of the fan base is that Smelter will be groomed to be Boldin's replacement as a reliable target for Colin Kaepernick.
Darren Waller 6th Round: Ravens
I actually had the Ravens as one of the fits for Smelter, but Waller makes plenty of sense too. The ravens spent their first round pick on Breshad Perriman, who will likely serve as the primary deep threat and replacement for Torrey Smith. Waller will likely be used as a red zone target, something the Ravens lost when TE Dennis Pitta left with an injury last year. The Ravens definitely see Waller as a WR and not a TE, as they drafted Maxx Williams out of Minnesota to be their TE of the future. Waller will need to prove himself in camp in order to make the team, but his size provides an upside that should help him grab a roster spot.
Draft Predictions Round-Up
In this comments section of my article on NFL fits for GT's prospects, a few FTRS users made predictions as to where the seniors would end up. The results are in, and we all did horribly.
|Zach Laskey||Rams||Patriots||No Prediction||Patriots||Patriots|
Of all the predictions, only one ended up being correct, so I guess I win? What this does show is that it's incredibly difficult to predict where a player will land. A player may fit well with a certain team, but the need at that position may be filled by an earlier pick, or there may be a more highly rated player on the board when that team selects. For prospects in the later rounds, the best thing to do is see which teams have showed the most interest, and the Patriots certainly showed the most interest in Mason.