From Colts Authority’s across-the-pond scout Olly Dawes comes the low-down on the Colts’ fifth-round pick Jonathan Newsome. See all of Olly’s work at his personal website here.
Agility 8 – Newsome is a good athlete who can change direction fairly well as a pass rusher or in coverage. He also came in the top 15 for the 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine, just behind No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. He possesses natural athleticism to bend the edge and beat blockers, which will be important with Robert Mathis aging.
Block Shedding 8 – Newsome displays active hands when being blocked, and he uses them aggressively to free himself well. This is particularly important as Newsome doesn’t have the longest of arms of for a pass rusher, and keeping tackles off him is going to be key to his success at the next level.
Burst 9 – One of Newsome’s best attributes is his ability to burst off the line of scrimmage. He has a superb first step, and that speed off the snap is what enables him to get an advantage over offensive linemen, and he can subsequently bend and dip around the edge. The Colts have been lacking speed off the edge outside of Robert Mathis, so Newsome could be a welcome addition.
Coverage 6 – Newsome wasn’t asked to drop back in coverage at Ball State as he was their best pass rusher, but when he did, he did show flashes of ability to be comfortable there. His agility and natural athleticism allows him to change direction well. More experience and play recognition skills will help him to become more adept here, as he will be asked to cover in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme.
Pass Rushing 8.5 – Newsome’s primary job is to rush the passer, and he did so from a number of stances, which will help him in Pagano’s multiple fronts. He shows the ability to get low and bend the edge, and looks like a more natural edge rusher than 2013 first round pick Bjoern Werner at times. He can stand to add secondary moves, but learning from Robert Mathis will help his development here.
Read and React 6 – Often tricked or confused by read option plays, Newsome has some trouble diagnosing plays at times but does sniff out screen passes well. As a third-down speed rusher you can mask this deficiency, but if he is to become more than that then he will have to improve his recognition skills.
Run Defense 6 – Newsome shows effort against the run but he simply doesn’t have the body type to ‘set the edge’ (drink!). He is undersized and subsequently doesn’t play with great strength to hold up against the run and can be washed out of run plays by linemen.
Strength 6.5 – With his below-average size for the position, strength unsurprisingly isn’t one of Newsome’s strong suits. He does convert speed in to power well at times, but he doesn’t consistently play with power either when rushing the passer or against the run. He also posted an average bench press score at the Combine.
Tackling 7 – Newsome sometimes has problems finishing tackles in the open field, lunging rather than wrapping up and completing the tackle. It’s just a question of improving his technique, so this is easily correctable, but it does result in some missed sacks at times.
Versatility 8 – Having been used primarily as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme at Ball State, Newsome will now be considered a 3-4 outside linebacker in the Colts system. For a team that describes itself as a hybrid defense, that’s important versatility, and something that Ball State used to great effect was using Newsome on stunts, where his speed when shooting the gaps was simply too much for interior linemen to handle.
Verdict: 73/100 (mid-5th round)
Heading into this draft, I felt that the Colts needed to add another pass rusher. Regardless of what the Colts say about stopping the run and setting the edge and blah blah insert other outdated philosophy cliché here, it was great to see Indianapolis add another rusher.
Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden offered little last season to inspire confidence moving forward, whilst the suspension to Robert Mathis is now a huge problem to the Colts’ defense. The addition of Newsome does provide them with a high-upside option which can potentially grow into something more. He offers speed, burst and natural edge-bending ability that few late round prospects can , and that’s what makes him so intriguing. There are off-field concerns with Newsome but for a 5th round pick, the Colts have taken a low risk move by drafting him.