Back on Nov. 29 when he suffered a torn ACL against Georgia, DeAndre Smelter wasn’t thinking about his prospects in the NFL draft.
That was too far off.
“When I first got hurt, I was thinking about not being able to play the final two games and not being out there with my teammates,” Smelter said. “That was tough because I really wanted to be out there with those guys.”
Smelter did miss the Yellow Jackets’ trips to the ACC championship game and the Orange Bowl, but the former Tattnall Square and Georgia Tech standout had to turn his focus to the NFL draft.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in February that Smelter was considered a fourth- or fifth-round pick at wide receiver before he was injured. Smelter said he is hearing he will be chosen anywhere from the fourth to seventh rounds.
The draft begins with the first round Thursday, continues with the second and third rounds Friday and wraps up with the fourth through seventh rounds Saturday.
“It’s been tough,” Smelter said of his recovery. “But I’m just happy to be in this position. It’s been a hard process to go through, and it’s easy to get down, but you just have to keep working through it.”
Smelter wasn’t able to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did meet with teams there. He has visited Jacksonville and Houston and has met with other teams, including Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
He is still working through the recovery process but is looking forward to what’s on the horizon.
“I was talking to a couple of other guys about it and just everything we’re going through, and it’s exciting,” Smelter said. “We’re just like, ‘We’re all in Atlanta now, but we could end up anywhere (after the draft).’ It’s just a great opportunity for everyone, and we’re just really looking forward to it.”