It is NFL draft time, and as always we’re taking a look at the UVA football players in this draft class. Without a doubt, the Hoos have had better draft classes. We profiled Oday Aboushi already, and today we're looking at the rest of the class. While none of these are likely to hear their name called in the draft, most will garner an invite to somebody's rookie training camp and there's a good chance at least one of them ends up on an NFL roster.
LaRoy Reynolds, OLB – Reynolds played OLB in college, but is likely too small to play there in the NFL. His size would be less of an issue as a MLB, but he’s never played there and may not have the skills for the position. During the UVA pro day, he showed off some skills as a FB, hoping to perhaps stick there. Reynolds’ pro day performance was fantastic, running the 40 in the 4.5 second range and putting up 28 reps of the bench press. Those numbers are impressive for a 6’2" 230 pound guy. His combination of speed and strength actually profile best as a safety, but again he may not have the skills for the position.
While it is possible that some team will draft Reynolds late because of his athletic profile, it is far more likely that he is a priority free agent after the draft. He’ll impress some people in training camp because of his athleticism, work ethic and energy. He has a good shot to make a team as a special teams player, which will give him some time to work on the skills necessary to play whatever position he ends up at, be it OLB, ILB or FB.
Reynolds would fit best on a 4-3 team that doesn't ask its OLBs to rush the passer much. His lack of size means going up against an NFL OT isn't a good prospect for him. But in space, he's a very good run stopper and he is a good zone coverage guy. He's not going to run with NFL WRs, but he could handle most TEs downfield. A team like the New York Giants would seem ideal for him.
Ausar Walcott, OLB – Walcott is another guy with a lot of versatility. In college, Walcott played at S, OLB and DE. In the NFL, he profiles as an OLB. Walcott’s combine performance wasn’t as impressive as Reynolds’, but was very good nonetheless. A 40 time in the 4.6 range and 19 bench press reps are good numbers for a 6’3" 230 pounder. Walcott’s time at DE also work in his favor, because NFL OLBs are expected to be able to rush the passer. Walcott can do that. Despite Reynolds’ far superior college career, Walcott actually profiles as a better NFL OLB prospect than Reynolds, due to his pass rush ability.
Again, Walcott is not going to get drafted, but he will be invited to somebody’s training camp and will be given a shot to make a team as a special teams player. If he excels there, he could eventually make his way onto the field on defense.
Walcott isn't really big enough to play as a 3-4 OLB, but because he has the ability to rush the passer (and really doesn't profile very well in pass coverage), his best bet would be on a team that blitzes a lot. A team like the New Orleans Saints or Tennessee Titans, both known for aggressive defenses, would be good.
Perry Jones, RB – The man they call Superman also performed well at the UVA pro day. Jones ran a 4.5ish 40, which is a bit below average for a smaller RB, but his 20 bench press reps was outstanding for a 5’8" 190 pound guy. That size profile is really Jones’ biggest problem. If he was a 4.3 second guy, he could stick at that size, but he isn’t fast enough to make for his lack of stature.
Jones is a very good receiver out of the backfield and solid in pass protection. Those skills pretty well define a 3rd down back. This would be Jones’ shot, but again he really isn’t fast enough. If Jones can excel on special teams in somebody’s training camp, he could possibly make a team. Once he’s on the team, his energy, effort and leadership could help him make an impression. He could just as easily be one of the first players cut just due to his lack of size.
Jones' best bet is for a team that doesn't really have a third down, and could use his receiving skills. The Washington Redskins could profile well for him, as could the New York Jets.
Steve Greer, ILB – Greer’s profile is almost the exact opposite of Reynolds’. Greer, at 6’2" 235 pounds, is big enough to play MLB in the NFL. And he has shown the ability to play that position at a high level. He also has experience playing in both a 3-4 and a 4-3, versatility which tends to improve a player’s stock. Greer’s problem, however, is that he simply isn’t athletic enough for the NFL. A 5 second 40 yard dash is far too slow for an NFL LB.
Greer will get an invite to somebody’s camp, but I don’t see him ever playing in an NFL game.
Will Hill, DT – Hill showed a lot of promise early in his career. Unfortunately, his 1.5 sacks as a sophomore ended up being his career high. At 6’3" 300 pound, his size profiles well for a DT. But, his 5.4 second 40 and his 28 bench press reps aren’t enough. Even if they were, his lack of production in college kills his NFL chances.
Hill may get a training camp invite, and his size may intrigue some people, but he likely won’t ever make an NFL roster.
Colter Phillips, TE – Phillips is 6’5" and 265 pounds, good size for an NFL TE. Colter’s problem is that he ran a 5.3 second 40 yard dash. Nineteen bench press reps from a guy his size is also well below expectations. That 40 time was very disappointing from Phillips, who showed decent speed on the field. Phillips isn’t a good enough blocker to stick as a blocking TE, and simply isn’t fast enough to stick as a pass-catching TE.
Like the last few guys, Phillips will likely get an invite to somebody’s camp, but his football career is essentially over.
Paul Freedman, TE – Freedman profiles almost identically to Phillips. 6’5" 275 pounds is a very good sized TE, but the slow 40 yard dash time kills his NFL prospects. Freedman is a slightly better in-line blocker than Phillips but not near good enough to play in the NFL as a blocking TE.
Again, Freedman will spend a few days at somebody’s rookie camp, but his football career is over.
LoVanté Battle, FB – It takes a special player to get drafted as a FB in the NFL. Battle moved around a lot in his career, from S to LB to FB. At 5’9" and 200 pounds, he isn’t near big enough for LB or FB and a 4.7 40 isn’t near fast enough for S. He may garner a camp invite as a FB prospect, but he may not.
There were 3 other seniors of note on the UVA roster last year, Bill Schautz, Matt Mihalik and Tucker Windle. None of these guys participated in the UVA pro day, and none of them are on the NFL’s radar.