Defensive end prospect Jeremy Geathers is very familiar with the NFL, with two former and one current NFL defensive lineman in his immediate family — his father, Jumpy Geathers, played 13 seasons for the Redskins, Saints, Falcons, and Broncos; his uncle, Robert Geathers Sr. played six seasons in the NFL; and cousin Robert Geathers Jr. currently plays for the Bengals.
After he improved on his 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day on March 5, he may have worked his way into the last two rounds of this year's draft.
He recorded a 4.74 time with a strong wind at his back and a 4.87 time running against the wind, but both were improvements on the 4.95 time he recorded at the Combine in February.
Because he performed well at the RCA Dome in all other drills, he decided to stand by those numbers and had focused exclusively on improving his 40 time to showcase to NFL scouts and the media.
His focus has paid off and, after falling off the radar a bit and possibly falling out of the draft entirely, he seems certain to have his name called on April 27th.
For a 4-3 end, he is considered undersized at 6 feet, 2 inches and 256 pounds. But those numbers are almost ideal for Tony Dungy's defense and he has successfully added 15 pounds since the Rebels season ended.
He did bench press 225 pounds 29 times at the Combine and seems to have bulked up from his college days.
Even though he is compact and powerfully built, he may not have added enough strength to be as stout against the run as Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have become, but defensive line coach John Teerlinck can certainly work with him in the offseason to use his hands and leverage more effectively and strength and conditioning coach Jon Torine can show him the exercises that Freeney and Mathis do in the weight room.
At first glance, Geathers appears to be as much of a Mathis clone as Georgia's Marcus Howard, until you realize that he is not as quick, fast, sudden, or explosive as either of those players.
This is evidenced by his 13 tackles for loss and nine sacks total the past two seasons and Howard either matched or exceeded those numbers in 2007 alone.
But, given that Geathers is projected to go in the late sixth or early seventh round, it makes sense that he does not possess the tools and skills that Mathis and Howard do.
With a similar build and skill set to those two, he has great upside and carries with him little risk — as well as the ability to contribute on special teams — he is a very intriguing prospect.
And, to extrapolate the clone analogy, the Colts can always draft Geathers in the seventh if they don't take Howard in the fourth or fifth.
The one aspect of this situation that doesn't make sense, though, is that Geathers is not a senior, he is a junior that declared early for the draft.
Generally speaking, only players that feel as though they have an excellent chance to be selected in the first four rounds declare early. The fact that he is looked upon as a later-round selection or free agent means he either made a rash decision or he was given some bad advice — probably the former, since he is surrounded by family members that are or were in the league.
This by no means makes Geathers untouchable, but is another reason to wait until Round 7 to pull the trigger on what could be a fantastic value pick.