Yellow Jackets in the NFL

With Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season in the books, I take a look at how last year’s draft class of Yellow Jackets is adjusting to life in the NFL.

Adam Gotsis, DT: drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 32nd pick in the 2nd round (63rd overall)

Adam Gotsis

In his senior year at Georgia Tech, Gotsis posted 31 tackles and three sacks on his way to another all-ACC season, but his senior year was cut short when he tore his ACL against Virginia. After a year of recovery and training to get back into NFL shape, he looks to be a vital cog in the future of an already-strong Denver defense, but is a bit of a raw talent. After picking Gotsis in April, Broncos general manager John Elway elaborated on the team’s interest in him: “We’re really excited about him…He’s a guy we think has a really high ceiling” (according to sbs.com.au). Elway admitted picking Gotsis, rated a 4th-round talent by ESPN, in the second round was a reach, but emphasized that the Broncos had their eyes on the Australian defensive tackle in the final few weeks before the draft and considered his potential high enough to warrant the 63rd overall pick. In his first two preseason games, he posted unexceptional numbers: only three tackles and no sacks (according to broncoswire.usatoday.com), but experts have praised Gotsis for relentlessly pressuring opposing quarterbacks and showing great speed off the line. Gotsis did not see any action in Denver’s Week 1 21-20 victory against the Carolina Panthers (according to ESPN.com), but his future with the Broncos remains bright.

D.J. White, CB: drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 3rd pick in the 6th round (178th overall)

D.J. White

As one of Georgia Tech’s three team captains in 2015, White started 11 games and recorded 41 tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass-defenses (according to ramblinwreck.com). Needless to say, he played a major role in Tech’s secondary over the course of his career and was the lynchpin of many of Tech’s defensive stops, including a crucial interception that sealed the Yellow Jackets’ 2014 overtime victory against the University of Georgia. The Chiefs picked White as part of a complement of three cornerbacks they hoped would add needed depth to their secondary. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid praised the cadre of CBs after the team’s mini-camp in May, and Ryne Nutt, the Chiefs scout that originally evaluated White, extolled his work ethic: “This is one of the hardest workers on the team. He’s a fast, tough and a physical corner. I think he fits what we do and he’s going to buy in” (via chiefs.com). Over the course of the preseason, White established himself as a contributing member of the Chiefs secondary and earned playing time in Kansas City’s Week 1 33-27 comeback victory against the San Diego Chargers, posting one combined tackle. He remains in contention with the other two rookie corners for playing time this season, but White embraced the competition, elaborating “The way I look at it, I’m competing against myself, first and foremost. Those guys are good players, they’re here for a reason. But for me, I’m just trying to be the best I can be” (via chiefs.com).