Before we get to this morning's Combine Primer, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported yesterday that Colts running back Trent Richardson has had his shoulder scoped. The surgery should not negatively affect the running back’s offseason workouts, according to the report (er, tweet).
Richardson finished the season with a DVOA of -22.2%, 44th in the NFL, and a Pro Football Focus grade of -3.7 (in both cases, zero represents average production). He’ll be working to improve those numbers in 2014 and show that he was worth the first round pick Indy gave up to acquire him.
He was never on the injury report with a shoulder issue during the season, so it’s difficult to say whether it was a nagging issue or something that flared up recently. Either way, fans Richardson alike will be hoping for a quick, alacritous recovery as Richardson moves toward a potentially pivotal season in his young career.
Colts.com Discussing Draft Needs? Well, Sort of
In other Colts news, well, there isn’t much. While Indianapolis, like most teams, understandably prefers not to discuss specific draft needs or potential targets, they did speak with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. last week about what he believes the Colts should be looking for in the upcoming draft.
According to Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen:
Kiper began talking about the depth at the receiver position when offering his assessments of the Colts. The bulk of his Colts thoughts though centered on the interior of the offensive line.
Huh. So, even Kiper, who I’m pretty sure ESPN keeps locked up in a broom closet recharging for most of the year, saw some need for improvement with the Colts’ inside blocking.
Kiper, of course, believes improvement ought to come through the draft:
“There’s a lot of center/guards in the second and third round that can certainly help the Indianapolis Colts do a better job of protecting Andrew Luck and getting some running room for those backs.”
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is about to kick off. Over 300 prospects will be in Indy going through various drills and getting all sorts of elective medical scans and tests done to satisfy scouts and GM’s from all 32 teams. Players will be showing off their prowess at the 60-yard shuttle, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump, bench press, three cone drill, and of course the 40-yard dash.
The workouts begin with tight ends, offensive linemen, and special teams on Saturday. Indy likely isn’t looking for much at tight end other than a guy who can compete for the spot behind Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, but offensive line may be a different story. Here are a few players who may be on the board when the Colts pick in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, or 7th rounds, with descriptions courtesy of CBS Sports:
Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor, 6-5, 348, projected round 2-3
Richardson has a massive frame with a large wingspan to engulf defenders, but he tends to allow rushers into his body too often and needs to be more consistently aggressive with his limbs. Richardson is surprisingly nimble and carries his weight well, staying light on his feet and moving from side-to-side very easily.
Dakota Dozier, G, Furman (that’s right), 6-4, 312, projected round 3
Dozier's athleticism and movement skills are some of the most impressive in this year's class of O-linemen, but he has some room to grow in terms of technique and will need to be prepared to play with better physicality if he's to have an immediate impact at the next level.
Bryan Stork, C, Florida State, 6-4, 306, projected round 4-5
Stork closed out his career by winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center while also earning First Team All-ACC honors by the league's coaches as well as the media.
Tenacious and technically-sound center whose awareness and reliability made him an underrated factor in Jameis Winston's Heisman campaign. Very good initial quickness, whether snapping the ball out of shotgun or the traditional exchange and turning to seal off defenders or releasing to block downfield. Shoots his hands into the chest plate of defenders and plays with his knees bent and butt down, maximizing his leverage.
It’s worth noting that Stork will need to build some lower body strength. The author compared him to Brian De La Puente of the Saints, who had similar issues early on.
Sunday’s workouts will feature quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. Indy thankfully isn’t going to be scouting the likes of Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Football, and as long as a couple players can come back from injuries, they have some potential depth at running back and wide receiver. Nevertheless, here are a couple players who could be hanging around when the Colts are on the clock:
Cody Latimer, WR, IU, 6-2, 215, projected round 4-5
Possesses thick, athletic-looking frame and an impressive speed/agility combination that enable him to separate consistently as a route-runner, and extend plays after the catch both in space and on contact.
Occasional concentration issues leading to drops. Though Latimer exhibits burst and hip-sink to separate out of cuts, he seems to lack a second gear when asked to pull away vertically and may struggle to consistently threaten the top of the defense.
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF, 6-0, 215, projected round 6-7
Varies his burst to the ball, demonstrating impressive burst to attack gaps, as well as the patience to allow things to develop. Can plant his leg and drive upfield, showing good core strength to slip past the arm-tackles at the line of scrimmage and get into the open. Lowers his shoulders through contact and keeps his legs churning.
Must run north and south to be effective. Does not possess the speed to beat defenders to the corner and loses power when running east and west at the line of scrimmage.
Defensive linemen and linebackers will work out on Monday, and the Colts could be looking for depth at both positions. They need a bigger difference maker along the interior line and another inside linebacker to compliment Jerrell Freeman, although Ryan Grigson may believe he has already found that player in Josh McNary. Here’s my shot in the dark at who’ll be available (yes, one has already have been featured on Colts Authority):
Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU, 6-1, 229, projected round 4-5
STRENGTHS: Barrow looks the part of a big-time prospect at linebacker. He's possesses broad shoulders and a tapered frame, long arms and is athletic.
WEAKNESSES: Barrow is a better athlete than football player, at this point, as he fails to wrap his arms securely too often. Barrow isn't the classic hit-lift-drive, violent tackler, but rather he prefers to grab ahold of the ballcarrier and wrestle them to the ground.
Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State, 6-4, 234, projected round 4
STRENGTHS: Tremendous athlete with has fluid footwork who flawlessly flips his hips to blanket tight ends or receivers down the field in coverage. Tall and long, which he uses well in coverage. Plays with excellent range and speed to chase down the action, taking proper angles in pursuit. Flashes the take-on strength to blow past blockers when he uses proper technique.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to improve his awareness to turn his head and find the ball. Length is advantageous, but at times will cause him to play too upright, and he needs to improve his overall leverage, especially on tackle attempts. Will get hung up on blocks at times.
On Tuesday, the last day of the Combine, it’s all cornerbacks and safeties, both positions where the Colts may need some help, and here are a few to watch for during the televised workouts. As there are a ton of defensive backs, these were chosen almost at random starting with second round projections:
Bradley Roby, CB, (the) Ohio State, 5-11, 192, projected round 2
Strengths: Roby has world-class speed with the click-and-close ability to play tight coverage and mirror receivers all over the field. 4.39-second 40-yard speed and a good fighting attitude to battle for the ball.
Weaknesses: Lacks preferred size for the position. Can be late looking for the ball. Tendency to concede underneath throws, although some might have been scheme-based in college. Must prove he can drive on the ball and limit plays in front of him.
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida, 6-0, 194, projected round 3-4
Watkins possesses a lean, athletic build more suited to cornerback. He's a willing hitter, however, with good vision and closing ability, making it likely that he'll be able to successfully handle the transition to safety. The willingness to change positions during his senior season is a good indication of Watkins' selflessness and maturity.
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford, 6-2, 206, projected round 2
Demonstrates good agility and acceleration to handle covering athletic tight ends out of the slot as well as supply deep help over the top. Reads the action and moves fluidly, showing a nice late burst to close on the ball and terrific vision and open-field running ability once he possesses it.
Missed 2011 season due to knee injury (ACL). Aggressive nature can be used against him at times, getting burned on occasion by cut-back runs from quicker ballcarriers. Ejected from one game in 2013 for targeting, displaying bad habit of leading with his helmet, which will draw personal fouls in the NFL.
Kenneth Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt, 6-0, 200, projected round 4-5
Instinctive defender who diagnoses the action quickly and attacks, whether it be toward the line of scrimmage vs. the run or in reading the eyes of the quarterback to break on a pass.
High in his backpedal and possesses just average fluidity when changing directions due to the fact that he's a bit high-cut. Can allow his aggression to get the best of him as he'll occasionally come in out of control, leaving cut-back lanes for niftier runners to exploit.
Again, all descriptions in bold are excerpts from each player’s CBS Sports draft profile. I picked some who look like they have potential, and some who look more like depth players. After the Combine workouts, not much will change at the top of the first round as far as draft stock (although someone could drop, as Bjoern Werner did last year), but several of these later-round projected guys could rise or fall significantly based on their workouts, interviews, or even that silly Wonderlic test.