NFL Draft Talk

Take from it what you will, but Russ Lande of Sporting News already has started speculating on defensive tackle Jeff Owens‘ draft stock for 2009.

Lande is a former scout for the Cleveland Browns and the St. Louis Rams.

He wrote in Sporting News that Owens “likely will shine in predraft workouts and could move up into the bottom of the first round if he does. Look for him to become a quality NFL starter in a 4-3 defense at tackle or a 3-4 scheme at end.”

Owens finished with 27 tackles in 13 starts last season. He has been named to the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Watch Lists for this season.


Free safety John Knox was held out Wednesday because he was dehydrated and didn’t gain enough weight back from Tuesday’s practice. Richt said he thought Knox lost 11 pounds in one day and “he just didn’t replenish quite as quickly as you like.” … Sixth-year safety Andrew Williams, converted fullback Benjamin Boyd and punter Brian Mimbs have all been awarded scholarships within the past two days, Richt said.

– Courtesy of


D.J. Shockley Ready To Go With Falcons

Former UGA QB D.J. Shockley Practicing With Falcons

Former UGA QB D.J. Shockley Practicing With Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Forget any suggestion that D.J. Shockley should wait another week to make his preseason debut for the Atlanta Falcons.

Shockley said Tuesday he has waited long enough – almost one full year.

Shockley had a chance to win the job as the Falcons’ top backup last summer. Then, in the fourth quarter of a preseason game at Buffalo on Aug. 17, 2007, Shockley’s right foot slipped, causing his left leg to twist awkwardly before he was tackled.

The announcement three days later that Shockley would have season-ending surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee was overshadowed by Michael Vick’s guilty plea on dogfighting charges on the same day.

Shockley’s lost chance to win the No. 2 job behind Joey Harrington to open the 2007 season only grew more painful when Harrington couldn’t keep the starting job. The Falcons also tried Byron Leftwich and Chris Redman as the starters, and Shockley knows if healthy he could have had his chance to start.

The Falcons selected Matt Ryan with the No. 3 overall draft pick in April.

Ryan could win the starting job as early as the first regular-season game. Redman is expected to begin the year as the starter or top backup.

That could leave Shockley and Harrington competing for the No. 3 spot.

New Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tuesday he will wait until later in the week to announce his quarterback rotation in Saturday night’s preseason opener at Jacksonville.

Shockley says he is eager to launch another bid to win the backup job – presumably behind Ryan or Redman – and he hopes his first chance in a game comes against the Jaguars.

“This is the week I’ve been waiting for, to get back and play and see some action and actually compete,” Shockley said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Smith said Shockley will play this week.

“D.J. is going to get some snaps,” Smith said. “We’ve got a plan to work all those quarterbacks and they’re all going to get an opportunity.”

Shockley said the 2007 quarterback carousel is a good reason to avoid thinking he can do no better than win the No. 3 job.

“Regardless of where a guy is drafted, you’ve got to go out there and compete,” he said. “You can’t say this guy has it made so I’m just going to fall back. You can’t do that. You’ve got to perform each day because the reality of the situation is you’re always one play away. You have to always be ready.”

Shockley has a strong throwing arm, but at the University of Georgia he was best known as a threat to run. Shockley was never compared with Vick as a running quarterback, but even after his second major knee surgery, his ability to run may give him the edge to win a roster spot.

“He’s got an extremely strong arm and he does some things with his feet, so it’s definitely a different dynamic than with the other quarterbacks that we have,” Smith said.

Inside linebacker Tony Taylor, another former Georgia player who on Tuesday was named by Smith as a starter against Jacksonville, says Shockley’s threat to run makes him “a different monster back there.”

“To have a quarterback who can throw the ball the way he can and run it at the same time, it’s a totally different thing,” Taylor said. “He’s got the ability to do whatever he wants and whatever he puts his mind to.”

Taylor played with Shockley at Georgia for three years and says the quarterback has made a complete recovery.

“I definitely think he’s back,” Taylor said. “Early in the spring you could kind of see he was still a little rusty. I think he’s come a long way since minicamp. I’ve always been a D.J. Shockley fan. For him to get back to the status where he is running around and throwing the ball like he can, I’m happy for him. He’s come a long way.”

Shockley, who had surgery after tearing cartilage in his left knee in 2003, was 4-of-5 for 46 yards passing and rushed for 18 yards on three carries before last year’s injury. He spent the 2006 season on the Falcons’ practice squad and has never appeared in a regular-season game.

“I’ve been going at it since last September, so I’m fully ready to go,” Shockley said. “I’m going full speed. I think I’m as ready as I’m going to be.”

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

Former Dawg In Falcons’ Preseason Opener



Former UGA Linebacker Tony Taylor

Former UGA Linebacker Tony Taylor



Flowery Branch — Former University of Georgia standout Tony Taylor, a former undrafted free agent, will start at middle linebacker for the Falcons against Jacksonville in the preseason opener on Saturday.

“Tony is looking good,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said today. “He’s been playing the mike (middle) linebacker for us and he’s done a nice job in communicating. It will be a great opportunity for him as the starting mike linebacker in this first game.”

Taylor is in a battle with Curtis Lofton, the team’s second-round draft pick, for the starting spot. Both have spent time working the No. 1 unit in practice.

The Falcons moved Keith Brooking back to weakside linebacker after he played the middle position for most of the last three seasons.

“You’ve got to kind of take it in stride,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to go out there and show what you can do. At the same time, you’ve got to gain the trust of the older guys, Brook (Keith Brooking), Lawdog (Lawyer Milloy) and Abe (John Abraham). You have to show them that you can function in their defense, make plays and help the team out the best way that you can.”

Taylor, of Oconee County High, started 35 of 49 over his career at Georgia and was named second team All-SEC in 2006. He made the Falcons last season after getting bypassed in the draft and played in 16 games on special teams.

“It’s been a fight,” Taylor said.

– Courtesy of