Rookie, Undrafted Free Agent Watch for Indianapolis Colts' Training Camp
The Colts didn't have a second or fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, but due to an extra seventh-rounder and a mid-draft trade, they still left New York with seven new Colts.
In addition to the Colts' draft choices, the team currently has 11 undrafted free agents on the roster. A total of 18 rookies fill out the Colts' roster, and they will be key contributors in 2013. While they may not rival the record-breaking success of the 2012 Colts' rookies, the 2013 rookies are just as crucial for the Colts' long-term success.
The Colts tried to improve every weakness with their rookies, from the offensive and defensive backfields to both sides of the trenches. Here is a comprehensive look at each of the Colts' new players.
- College: Florida State
- Draft Status: Round 1, No. 24 overall
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 266 pounds
- College Production: 99 total tackles, 35 tackles for a loss, 23.5 sacks, 1 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 18 passes defended in a three-year career. 42 tackles (18 for a loss) and 13 sacks in 2012 along with eight passes knocked down
Analysis: Werner wasn't as highly rated by many draft pundits as his teammate Tank Carradine, but the Colts were extremely high on Werner after he was personally worked out by head coach Chuck Pagano and other staff members prior to the draft. Indianapolis targeted Werner to essentially replace Dwight Freeney, although not necessarily directly.
Freeney played the rush outside linebacker, which will be Robert Mathis' spot in 2013. Erik Walden should start at strong-side outside linebacker, and Werner will play on both sides. I'd expect him to contribute a bit more as the SOLB opposite Mathis on passing downs, especially early on in the season.
There are some questions about Werner's athleticism and whether or not he'll be able to play OLB effectively after playing DE in college. Those questions should be answered fairly early in the season, but if he can handle the switch, he could be the Colts' Ryan Kerrigan.
- College: Illinois
- Draft Status: Round 3, No. 86 overall
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 320 pounds
- College Production: Started 35 games in four years at Illinois on multiple positions across the line, including both tackle positions and weak-side guard. Played in 42 games overall.
Analysis: The Colts tried to address their interior offensive line with their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, drafting tough-as-nails guard Hugh Thornton. Thornton is a strong, nasty blocker with quick feet that should fit well in the Colts' new offensive scheme, which is more reliant on zone-blocking than it has in the past.
According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts are letting Thornton develop at right guard, which is his focus for 2013. Also competing for time there is veteran Mike McGlynn, who started 16 games for Indianapolis last season.
McGlynn was one of the NFL's worst starters in 2012, and fans are hoping that Thornton wins the job, but Ryan Grigson has been vocal about his reluctance to start rookie linemen in the past. McGlynn has been working with the first team so far in the offseason, and should have the advantage to start training camp. However, if Thornton outplays him in the preseason, there should be nothing holding him back from starting.
- College: USC
- Draft Status: Round 4, No. 121 overall
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 302 pounds
- College Production: Started 38 games in four years as a Trojan, including one season at right guard and two at center. Also played three games as a reserve guard during his freshman season.
Analysis: With their fourth round pick, the Colts once again looked to the interior offensive line, this time selecting Khaled Holmes out of USC. They passed up on offensive playmakers like Johnathan Franklin, Quinton Patton and Chris Harper. The Colts selection of Holmes hinted at their lack of trust for 2012's starting center Samson Satele.
Holmes, however, likely won't start the season as the first-string center. While his athleticism and quick feet are essential to the likely-to-be-used zone-blocking scheme, he lacks the ideal power and anchoring ability to be a top-flight center. He'll likely be used as a reserve center and occasional guard in 2013.
But with the way Satele played last season, no Colts fan is going to be upset if Holmes beats him out for the job.
- College: Tennessee-Martin
- Draft Status: Round 5, No. 139 overall
- Height: 6'4"
- Weight: 329 pounds
- College Production: 61 tackles, 15 TFLs, 5 sacks and 13 QB hurries while starting for two years at Tennessee-Martin.
Analysis: The Colts thought highly enough of Hughes to trade a 2014 fourth-round pick to Cleveland for their 2013 fifth-rounder, with which they selected the massive defensive linemen out of Tennessee-Martin. Despite his size, Hughes is very athletic, and can move up and down the line extremely well.
Because of his athleticism/size combination, Chuck Pagano compared Hughes to Ravens defensive linemen Haloti Ngata. While he was initially thought of as a nose tackle due to his size, Hughes likely will be used as Pagano used Ngata in Baltimore: a three-tech defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.
Of course, this all depends on Hughes being able to draw out his talent after a concerning display of immaturity in college. He was suspended multiple times while at the University of Tennessee, eventually leading to his dismissal from the team and transfer to Tennessee-Martin. Hughes wasn't a problem at all after the transfer, and coaches spoke highly of him, so there is something to build on.
- College: Oregon
- Draft Status: Round 6, No. 192 overall
- Height: 5'10"
- Weight: 204 pounds
- College Production: 278 total tackles, 10 interceptions and 30 passes defensed during his four-year career at Oregon, despite missing the vast majority of his senior season with a knee injury.
Analysis: Injuries during a player's college career can dramatically affect their draft status, and John Boyett's partially-torn patella tendons did just that. One scout said that he could have gone as early as the third or fourth round if not for his knee injuries, but with the injuries he fell to the late sixth round, where the Colts selected him.
Boyett doesn't have the ideal size or speed (4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to play free safety in the NFL, but his fantastic instincts give him a first step that eludes most. He has one of the highest football IQs in the NCAA, and it should help him overcome the lack of natural athleticism that most NFL safeties possess.
If he can stay healthy, Boyett represents the potential replacement for former sixth-round pick Antoine Bethea, who has been one of the Colts' most reliable players over the last seven seasons. Boyett likely won't play much in 2013 (if he is even healthy enough to get on the roster), but he has definite long-term potential.
- College: Utah State
- Draft Status: Round 7, No. 230 overall
- Height: 5'8"
- Weight: 195 pounds
- College Production: 382 carries, 2515 yards, 6.6 YPC, 64 receptions, 870 yards, 27 total TDs. Also returned 135 kicks for 3408 yards and one TD. Ran for 1512 yards and 15 TDs on 218 carries as the starter in 2012.
Analysis: Williams is one of the most intriguing newcomers for Indianapolis, hailing from a Utah State team that has had great success running the ball over the last few years. Running backs Robert Turbin and Michael Smith were both drafted in the 2012 draft, leaving Williams as the starter. Williams was just as productive as the other two were in college, but questions remain on whether or not he can make an impact in the league. Smith, a similarly-sized back, is currently competing for the backup job in Tampa Bay, and his success at this level may give some indication of Williams' potential.
Williams has great speed and quickness, as evidenced by his top-five marks at the combine in both the 40-yard dash and the 20-yard shuttle. His elusiveness and speed make him a threat as a returner and receiver, as well as a runner around the edge. Williams has Darren Sproles-like potential, but questions still remain on whether his size will allow him to be successful.
To make the roster, Williams will likely have to show he can contribute on special teams, as Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard, and Donald Brown did. If not, Delone Carter should be ahead of him on the depth chart at this point.
- College: South Carolina
- Draft Status: Round 7, No. 254 overall
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 258 pounds
- College Production: 50 receptions, 581 yards and 1 touchdown during four years at South Carolina. Just 23 receptions for 324 yards during senior season.
Cunningham wasn't used much as a receiver during college, but he was utilized as a fantastic blocker as a Gamecock. While Mike Mayock described Cunningham as "a better athlete than you think" and having the "ability to finish in the end zone," Cunningham's production (just one touchdown at South Carolina) hasn't reflected that.
That being said, the Colts don't need Cunningham to be an elite or even above-average receiving threat at tight end. Having already acquired Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in last year's draft, the Colts looked to upgrade at the third TE spot with the drafting of Cunningham.
The rookie TE will battle with Weslye Saunders (whose recent suspension helps Cunningham's chances) and Dominique Jones for the roster spot in training camp. If he can translate his athleticism and potential into being an adequate receiver, he should be able to win the spot.
Undrafted Free Agents
Undrafted free agents:
Kansas State CB Allen Chapman, Boston College OT Emmett Cleary, Temple K Brandon McManus, Montana FB Dan Moore, UCLA CB Sheldon Price, Wagner LB C.O. Prime, Idaho State WR Rodrick Rumble, Baylor WR Lanear Sampson, Purdue C Rick Schmeig, Sam Houston State CB Daxton Swanson.
Analysis: Plenty of the Colts' undrafted free agents should have a chance to compete for a roster spot, as the Colts' roster is still relatively thin.
Cornerbacks Allen Chapman, Daxton Swanson and Sheldon Price should all compete with incumbents Josh Gordy and Cassius Vaughn for depth cornerback spots. Swanson, with his ability to play safety, and Price, with his pedigree from UCLA, look to be the best bets at snatching a spot.
C.O. Prime caught the eye of veteran Cory Redding early on in OTAs, and may be a dark horse candidate to make the roster.
OT Emmett Cleary out of Boston College may have the best chance of making the roster, however, because offensive tackle is extremely thin after Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, and Cleary has a familiarity with Castonzo (former roommate at Boston College) that may prove fruitful in his transition to the NFL.