|Stephen Hill catches all 12 passes, including a fingertip-grab, during Georgia Tech's pro day. (US Presswire)|
ATLANTA -- Wide receiver Stephen Hill wanted to leave a specific impression with the NFL coaches who flocked to Georgia Tech's pro day.
"I just want to show them, because those are the guys who will be drafting me, that I can do great things other than just running deep routes," said the 6-4, 215-pounder, one of the stars of the NFL combine, where he posted a 4.36 "official" time in the 40-yard dash.
Mission accomplished. With two head coaches -- Atlanta's Mike Smith and Lovie Smith of the Bears -- and most NFL teams in attendance, Hill did his part to continue nudging his draft stock upward.
Running a variety of short and intermediate routes, Hill got in and out of his breaks fast and caught all 12 passes, including a fingertip-grab off the turf, form quarterback Eric Ward in Tuesday's workout. Vikings wide receiver coach George Stewart ran the receiver drills and ordered Hill through the route tree.
His eye-catching gold and silver Nike Vapor cleats only added to the spectacle. Scouts wanted to see something they didn't on film from Hill -- how he runs routes, if he repeats them with precision and how he tracks the ball over his shoulder and adjusts to poorly thrown passes. Hill was not a featured part of the run-first offense Tech operates.
Some scouts might be concerned with Hill's junior season, in which he dropped easily catchable balls but made the spectacular catches.
But scouts view him as a natural hands catcher. One observer credited him with five drops and 28 receptions last season.
Hill didn't run the 40-yard dash at pro day. He is 4.36 at the combine tied for the fastest showing. "I think I kind of showed enough," he said with a laugh when asked about not running at pro day. Hill has been working out under the watchful eye of former Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis. "Basically it's just route-running, getting in and out of breaks, making sure I catch the ball with my eyes," he said. "Of course with my hands, but mostly with my eyes."
Several Tech seniors try to impress
Pro day wasn't all about Hill. Also working out were seven Tech seniors projected as undrafted free agents: RBs Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, DE Jason Peters, LB Steven Sylvester, WR Tyler Melton, DT Logan Walls and CB Rashaad Reid.
According to scouts, Peeples ran a 4.50, followed by Jones (4.53), Reid (4.56), Sylvester (4.75) and Peters (4.83).
Peters benched 225 pounds 28 times. Walls did 24 reps, followed by Sylvester (23), Melton (16), Jones (14), Peeples (14) and Reid (11 3/4).
• Melton dropped his first pass but redeemed himself with a twisting, leaping grab.
• Tech coach Paul Johnson said Jones and Peeples are "probably third-down backs, slot receivers. Clearly they've done some of that, catching the ball in space. It just depends on how teams see them.
"You hope they all get a chance, they all get into camp and see what happens."