By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Former Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill hopes he's getting closer to becoming a high pick in the NFL draft.
After creating a buzz by running the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at the NFL scouting combine two weeks ago, Hill caught all 12 passes thrown to him in a pro day workout Tuesday on campus.
Hill now must convince teams that he's worthy of a high second-round pick — maybe better — despite spending his college career in the Yellow Jackets' triple-option, run-oriented offense. He caught just 49 passes in a three-year career, but averaged an impressive 25.5 yards per reception.
"I've got to sell myself a lot," Hill said after the workout. "I think everybody has to sell themselves coming out of any offense, but of course I have to sell myself more. Other than that, I feel like the whole process is going great. There's a lot of work left to do."
Since reporting to the combine, Hill has advanced his cause considerably. He was considered as a potential fourth-round pick before arriving in Indianapolis, but his time in the 40 and his performance in other combine drills elevated his status.
All 32 NFL teams had representatives watching him Tuesday.
Hill caught passes from Eric Ward, an Atlanta native who played at Richmond and spent time in camp two years ago with the Falcons.
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith declined to comment about Hill's status to The Associated Press, but it was clear that Hill was pleased when Minnesota Vikings receivers coach George Stewart pulled him aside for some encouraging words.
"It's all about route running and showing that I can catch with my hands," Hill said. "A lot of my focus today was mostly just getting in and out of breaks, but I think I should work on everything. Even if I'm good at something right now, I still need to work on it, even blocking, which we are so accustomed to doing at Georgia Tech."
According to many scouting sites and services listed on the Internet, Hill is considered the fifth- or sixth-best receiver behind Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame, Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina and Baylor's Kendall Wright. (Read Pro Football Weekly's scouting report on Hill.)
To keep interest stirring, Hill must convince teams that he can run routes as well as Demaryius Thomas, a receiver of similar build who played in the same offense at Georgia Tech. Thomas, who was drafted No. 22 overall in 2010, averaged 17.2 yards on 32 receptions last season before catching the winning touchdown pass in the Broncos' overtime playoff win over Pittsburgh.
Like Thomas, Hill left Georgia Tech after his junior year.
"I believe it can only help my cause that (Thomas) has delivered on expectations after coming out of Georgia Tech," Hill said. "With (QB Tim) Tebow running the offense, they don't throw the ball a lot, but (Thomas) is still a go-to guy. He's shown he can make big plays in the NFL. It's my goal to do the same thing."
Hill and Thomas ran similar times at the combine — Thomas was clocked at 4.36 in the 40 two years ago — and both were impressive on the vertical jump. Hill recorded a leap of 39 inches at Indianapolis, so he declined to do anything more than run routes on Tuesday.
For other former Georgia Tech players like RB Roddy Jones, the pro day was an opportunity to shine. Unlike Hill, who said he has spoken with all 32 NFL teams, Jones still has yet to be contacted.
Jones hopes a team will take a chance on him either as a late draft pick or as a college free agent. He participated in 40-yard dash, short shuttle, long shuttle and cone drills.
"I don't have any of my official times from today, but my dad had a stopwatch, so I was pretty pleased with it," Jones said. "The feedback I've been getting is good. I was excited about the way I performed. Hopefully, I'll get some feedback after this and see kind of where stand and what they're thinking."
Other former Georgia Tech players who participated were Embry Peeples, Jason Peters, Steven Sylvester, Rashaad Reid, Logan Walls and Tyler Melton.
For Hill, the immediate future seems much brighter. He plans to return this week to working independently with former Falcons WR Terance Mathis, who has counseled him in private sessions during the last nine weeks.
"I'm just trying to get as much information from as many reliable sources as I can find," Hill said. "It's just a matter of continuing to taking the best of what everyone has to offer and fitting it into what will suit my situation the best."
©2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.