NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Georgia Tech Prospects

T.J. Barnes is Viewed as the Best Georgia Tech Prospect Available, But Who Else Is on the Board?

T.J. Barnes is Viewed as the Best Georgia Tech Prospect Available, But Who Else Is on the Board?

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.

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2012 All-ACC Football Team: Offense

Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

As most other publications have also done, we’ve put together an All-ACC team here at Atlantic Coast Convos, honoring the best players from the 2012 football season. We’ve also included players from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as that has always been our policy, and once bowl season is over, all ACC football news will have to involve them anyway. In this post, you’ll find both the first- and second-team offense, with choices for All-ACC defense now live as well.

See any selections you agree with? Disagree with? Feel free to voice your concerns in the comments below.

2012 Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team: Offense

First Team

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR Alec Lemon, Syracuse

TE Brandon Ford, Clemson

G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C Dalton Freeman, Clemson

OT James Hurst, North Carolina

OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse

Second Team

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ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #16, Omoregie Uzzi

Georgia Tech’s Omoregie Uzzi is #16 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 25 Players for 2012

As part of our 2012 season preview, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC for this season, from 25 to one. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective, so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

No. 16, Omoregie Uzzi, G/Georgia Tech

Being an offensive lineman at Georgia Tech is no easy task. Yet, despite the difficulties involved with blocking for the triple option, Omoregie Uzzi has managed to arrive at his senior year for the Wreck. On the watchlist for both the Outland and Lombardi trophies this season, Uzzi is the leader of an impressive group tasked with opening up space for a dynamic, run-first attack. His 24 career starts on the line are tied for 10th in the conference, and at this point, he’s established a national reputation as a physical, imposing force in the running game.

In 13 games last year, Tech only allowed 13 sacks. Now, while part of that is due to the lower number of dropbacks, the other half of that equation goes to celebrate how well-rounded a group the team has on their hands. If Uzzi wants to fully live up to the hype and deliver the “number one rushing game in the nation,” as fellow guard Will Jackson boasted this summer, he must be fully committed to the cause. A-back Orwin Smith doesn’t open up those running lanes by himself, so Uzzi must continue to use his immense size to make up for a lack of real quickness.

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Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team (Offfense)

Tajh Boyd is All-ACC First-Team, Despite Recent Struggles

The Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team honors the best players at each offensive position. We’ve provided a list of both first- and second-team selections based on what we’ve observed throughout the season. Feel free to disagree, however, since we did on several of the official ACSMA list.

First Team

Quarterback: Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Running Back: David Wilson, Virginia Tech

Running Back: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Wide Receiver: Dwight Jones, North Carolina

Tight End: Dwayne Allen, Clemson

Offensive Tackle: Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech

Offensive Tackle: Oday Aboushi, Virginia

Offensive Guard: Omoreggi Uzzi, Georgia Tech

Offensive Guard: Austin Pasztor, Virginia

Center: Dalton Freeman, Clemson

Kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

Special Teamer: T.J. Graham, NC State

Second Team

Quarterback: Mike Glennon, NC State

Running Back: Lamar Miller, Miami (FL)

Running Back: Andre Ellington, Clemson

Wide Receiver: Chris Givens, Wake Forest

Wide Receiver: Conner Vernon, Duke

Tight End: George Bryan, NC State

Offensive Tackle: Zebrie Sanders, Florida State

Offensive Tackle: James Hurst, North Carolina

Offensive Guard: Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech

Offensive Guard: Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Center:Tyler Horn, Miami (FL)

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson

Special Teamer: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Breakdown by Team: Clemson (7), UNC (4), Virginia Tech (3), NC State (3), Florida State (2), Miami (2), Virginia (2), Duke (1), Georgia Tech (1), Wake Forest (1)

Check out the All-ACC Defensive Team, too.