With the NFL draft weekend in the review mirror several Yellow Jacket alumni have embarked onto the next stage of their football careers.
With the 15th pick of the 7th round, Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer, Harrison Butker, was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. Butker was the third kicker this year. His selection marks the 4th consecutive year that a Yellow Jacket has been drafted. Butker will have a very good shot at winning the Panthers’ kicking job. Their current kicker, Graham Gano, is coming off the worst season of his career and is entering the last year of his contract.
LB P.J. Davis signed a UDFA contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Davis had interest from several other teams, including the Atlanta Falcons (though the Falcons did not offer him a contract and wanted to work him out at FB). Jacksonville had shown a lot of interest in Davis over the preceding weeks and offered him an opportunity to play close to his southern Georgia home. Davis’s best shot at making the final roster will likely be on special teams.
DL Francis Kallon was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a UDFA. Kallon never quite lived up to the hype during his time on The Flats, but his combination of size and speed (4.9 40 meter time) enticed the Steelers into giving him an opportunity. Kallon likely profiles as an end in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the position he was recruited for under former Tech DC Al Groh.
DL Patrick Gamble was signed by the New York Jets. Similarly to Kallon, Gamble profiles as a defensive end in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme after spending the last two seasons playing tackle for the Yellow Jackets. Scheme fit is part of what Gamble found attractive in the Jets’ offer. New York drafted one defensive end out of West Georgia, but he will likely end up as an outside linebacker or edge rusher while Gamble is viewed as more of a run-stopping end.
Former QB Justin Thomas did not sign a UDFA contract but did receive an invitation to attend the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie mini-camp this week. Thomas’s offer differs from a UDFA contract in that he does not have a roster spot and will need to impress during mini-camp to receive one. The 49ers will work out Thomas a WR and return specialist. Switching positions at the pro level is always difficult, but Thomas’s speed and elusiveness make him a very enticing prospect.
Finally, three-year starting center Freddie Burden’s NFL plans are on hold at the moment. Burden suffered a broken ankle against Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl, his final collegiate game. The injury prevented Burden from working out for NFL teams during the pre-draft process. Even still, Burden received interest from several teams that want to evaluate him once he fully recovers from his injury.
Congratulations to the newest ProJackets and good luck in the NFL!