(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
The NFL Draft is near, about 9 days away now, and, apart from their extensive pro day schedule, the Colts have hosted a handful of intriguing players at their west 56th Street complex in the past week. With the unpredictability of the draft, it’s a toss-up whether any of these players will be drafted by Indianapolis. However, in most cases – unless it’s some elaborate bluff – an individual workout does indicate some level of interest from the team. So, today, we’ll take a quick look at four of the players who have reportedly visited the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in the past week.
Robert Woods, WR, USC, 1st – 2nd Round Projection
Southern California Wide Receiver Robert Woods (6-1, 201, or 6-0, 201, depending on the source), projected in the late first to early second round of the draft, has had a workout with the Colts in Indianapolis as recently as Monday, according to Pro Football Talk, and Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star.
Woods has had ankle problems through much of his college career and had surgery on his right one before the 2012 season. He went on to catch 76 passes for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games, never missing a start, according to his NFL Draft profile, which calls him a “productive potential number one receiver,” despite concerns over his durability.
Woods is a devastatingly precise route runner with good acceleration and even better hands. Known for his ability to adjust and haul in nearly any type of pass, he can also make people miss in the open field, whether on a screen pass or a kickoff or punt return.
When perusing through analysis of the young Trojan receiver, words like “fearless,” “tough,” and “polished” jump off the page. However, like anyone else, he is no perfect prospect. Woods needs to build some more strength to make his body more NFL-ready, and several analysts remain concerned about his injury history.
The other major concern is speed. Like the other two late first round receiver prospects (Allen and Hopkins), Woods doesn’t have a great 40-yard dash time. His official combine time was 4.51 seconds, which proves he isn’t great at track and field, but it isn’t a death sentence for a receiver’s NFL career. For every Marvin Harrison (4.38), there is a Wes Welker (4.65) or a Michael Irvin (4.52).
Jon Bostic, ILB, Florida, 4th Round
On Saturday, Draftinsider.net’s Tony Pauline tweeted that Jon Bostic (6-1, 245, 4.61 sec 40-yard dash) either already had or was scheduled to visit the Colts. As Kyle Rodriguez pointed out recently, inside linebacker could be future need for Indianapolis, with Kavell Conner and Pat Angerer’s contracts each set to end in 2014 and Jerrell Freeman’s deal finishing up in 2015. Whatever their long term plans are for each player, it wouldn’t hurt to look at a later round project at the position, especially after losing backup ILB Moise Fokou to the Titans in free agency.
Bostic was somewhat of an enforcer for the Florida defense, a tough linebacker with a mean streak who could punish opposing players, especially running backs, over the middle. He is a leader and an intelligent player who takes the time to help his teammates improve. A hard hitter and sure tackler, Bostic excels against the run but doesn’t have great athleticism or top speed for pass coverage.
Here’s the summary from Bostic’s NFL Draft profile:
Bostic is an absolute hammer in the middle of the Gators defense, especially against the run. He fights to take out blockers and to accomplish his assignment, but when he attacks with his shoulder Bostic fails to make a play on the football.. Even though he’s not as tall as some coaches would like, his production (he led the Gators with 94 tackles as a junior), onfield attitude and instincts for the ball make him a potential mid-round pick and gives him a chance to eventually earn a starting job at the next level.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia, 1st Round
As Stampedeblue.com pointed out, OLB Jarvis Jones’s visit to Indy over the weekend was reported by none other than…Jarvis Jones, by way of Instagram, and shared on Twitter. He is an unusual prospect. Jones possesses top-flight pass rushing ability, he can stuff running backs behind the line, and he can drop back and cover tight ends in the open field. However, his pro day 40-time was 4.92, and after a neck injury his freshman year, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a painful condition caused by the spine narrowing and putting pressure on the spinal cord. It doesn’t always have to be treated with surgery, but it has nevertheless generated some serious concern for Jones’s long-term health and perhaps the liability of letting him play football at all.
Jones’s NFL Draft profile sums up the conundrum teams face when weighing his skills and potential against his injury issues:
The Peach State native suffered a neck injury his true freshman year at USC, but returned home when cleared by Georgia doctors; the consensus All-American impressed scouts in 2011 with his ability to rush the passer and he didn’t let up in 2012, leading the nation in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. Jones also showed the versatility to play the run and get the job done in coverage. He enters the NFL with some questions with his struggles disengaging at the point of attack and limited length and growth potential, but the production speaks for itself and, as Bruce Irvin reminded us last April, pass rushers don’t last long on draft day. Whether or not he would be able to fit in a 4-3 defense like Irvin would depend on how he is used, but he would fit best as a pass rush OLB in a 3-4 like in college. While his talent makes him a first-round pick, the medicals will be key to truly evaluating where Jones will be drafted.
Trevardo Williams, DE, Connecticut, 3rd Round
UConn’s Trevardo Williams (6-1, 241) visited the Colts’ facility on or before April 13th, according to Scout.com. He is a favorite of Colts Authority’s Olly Dawes as well as Stampede Blue’s Josh Wilson. Williams is small – for his position – and fast (4.57-second 40-yard dash) but deceptively strong, posting an offensive lineman-like 30 bench press reps at the Scouting Combine.
Because of his small size, Williams has to rely on his explosiveness more than his strength. However, if the Colts are willing and able to draft him, he would move to outside linebacker, where his athleticism should allow him to transition smoothly to a position that may be a better fit.
Because he doesn’t have experience covering running backs and tight ends, he won’t be an early draft pick and is projected to go in the third round, which would be a good spot for a developmental player with strong potential.
Despite assumptions made based on his nationality, Williams’s NFL.com Draft profile sums up his strengths and weaknesses nicely:
This native of Jamaica has the speed you’d expect from someone growing up in one of the world’s largest exporters of elite sprinters. The 2012 first-team All-Big East pick used that speed, as well as underrated strength, to put up 24 sacks the past two seasons. His lack of size limits him to very specific 4-3 schemes at defensive end, but his ability to rush the passer from a stand-up position could help him transition to a 3-4 linebacker spot at the next level. To effectively play 3-4 OLB however, he's going to need to prove that he's agile enough, and possesses enough instincts to hold up in coverage.
Aaron Mallette, WR, Elon, 4th – 6th Round
NFL.com’s Gil Brandt reported that one team (he didn’t say who) sent representatives to watch WR Aaron Mellette (6-3, 217, 4.54 40) work out at Elon’s pro day. (Wait – Elon University has a Pro Day?!) After participating in Elon and North Carolina State’s workouts, Mellette attended a private workout with the Indianapolis Colts on April 10.
Mellette, projected anywhere from rounds 4-6, could be an intriguing prospect for the Colts. He has the size and route running skill to flourish in a west coast offense, and he uses his size to get into position where make unimpeded catches. He’s tough and fearless, but not particularly strong and will need to build up some muscle to catch in traffic in the NFL.
From Mellette’s NFL.com draft profile:
Good height to be a solid possession receiver at the next level, has enough size to shield defenders on slants. Reliable hands, wins jump balls in traffic and snatches the ball away from his frame whether tracking it over his shoulder or facing the quarterback. Not afraid to go over the middle, and can turn and run if hit in the soft spot of a zone. Flashes the flexibility and body control to adjust to high and low throws, as well as those behind him. Used on bubble screens and fly sweeps despite his size, has the agility to make a man miss after the catch.
Long speed will be a concern for scouts, who may doubt his ability to separate from pro cornerbacks with quickness alone. Inconsistent strength as a ballcarrier, shows balance to keep his feet after contact at times but will fail to run through arm tackles. Must answer the level of competition question and prove himself confident in his abilities at a post-season all-star game.
It’s worth noting that the highest profile visit, Alabama CB DeMarcus Millner, a consensus top-10 pick, was left off the list because, outside of a potentially risky trade, it’s hard to imagine any real chance of the Colts drafting him (unless there’s something only the Colts know right now). NFL teams tend to over-value their draft picks, so, while we shouldn’t rule it out entirely, Indy would have to give up a ton to get into the top ten. I’ll also leave off Fordham kicker Patrick Murray…for now. If the Colts do draft a kicker, things could get interesting.
It will be draft time soon enough. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the speculation and attempt to keep our expectations in check.
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