Who the Hell Will They Draft 2009: David Bruton

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We have focused quite a bit on 1st and 2nd round selections for the Colts here at Stampede Blue, but I want to focus on one of the many 2nd day selections the Colts could take in the draft:  Notre Dame S David Bruton.  I've had the pleasure of watching Bruton play every game over the past 4 years, and I'm very excited about the possibility of him becoming a Colt.  He's also they only ND player that is draftable this year, so any excuse to profile someone from my alma mater is gladly appreciated.

Now, I know what you are thinking:  Why would the Colts take another Safety in the draft?  Safety is (arguably) the deepest position on the team, with Sanders, Bethea, Bullitt, Giordano (if he's resigned), and Silva, so why should we draft another?  I'm loaded with reasons, so here goes...

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Let's look at the measurables, which are all from the combine:

Height Weight 40 Time Bench Vertical Broad 3-Cone 20 Shuttle 60 Shuttle
Stat 6'0" 219 4.46 19 41.5" 11'0" 6.60 4.28 10.96
Rank (S) N/A N/A 2 (21) 7 (20) T1 (20) 1 (20) T2 (18) 11 (18) 1 (3)

Looking at these numbers, Bruton looks to be a workout wonder, as he was 1st or 2nd in 5 of the 7 categories tested at the combine.  His 40 time was better than all CBs that were there, which is lightning quick.  What do the Colts base their entire defense on?  Speed, and Bruton is the cream of the crop this season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  The Vertical is also a very good measurement, as a DB needs to be able to get up to knock down passes.  Overall, I think Bruton helped his cause at the Combine.

While all these numbers are great, how did he play on the field?  Here are Bruton's career stats:

Year Tackles FF INT
2005 13 0 0
2006 18 0 0
2007 84 0 3
2008 95 2 4
Total 210 2 7

It's pretty obvious he was a 2 year starter at ND, playing behind Bengals S Chinedum Ndukwe and Ravens S Tom Zbikowski.  As a Junior and Senior, he finished in the top 3 on the team in Tackles, and led the team both years in Interceptions.  Now I'm not going to lie to you, the ND defense has not been the best of units the last 2 years, but Bruton has shined through, even with all the young guys playing around him.

These stats, however, do not take into account his greatest strength, which the Colts need desparate help in: Special Teams.  Bruton was a fixture on Special Teams all 4 years, mostly as a Gunner.  Remember that speed I talked about earlier?  He is fantastic as a Gunner because he can get down the field fast, and has the closing skills to actually make the tackle.  Nothing is worse than having a fast guy get downfield, and blow the tackle due to bad technique.  ND finished #1 in the country in Kickoff Coverage last season.  Oh, and his coach?  Brian Polian.  I'm guessing him and his father have had a conversation or two about Bruton.

With NFL gameday rosters only at 45 guys, it isn't very feasible to have a guy who only plays Special Teams on the roster (or more than 1, as Justin Snow fits this as well), so Bruton would have to be valuable on the defensive side as well.  As I mentioned before, Safeties are already 2 deep + 1, and I can't see the Colts having 6 Safeties active.  So for the Colts to draft Bruton, I think some DCE needs to occur.  How about a move to LB?  If Bruton could put on just 6 pounds of muscle, he'd be the exact same size as newly signed LB Michael Okwo, and bigger than Jordan Senn.  He obviously has the Coverage skills, which is probably all he'd be asked to do early in his career.  With his ability on Special Teams, it would be a good risk for the Colts to take.

SBNation's Mocking the Draft hasn't profiled Bruton yet, but a couple other sites have some info on Bruton:

Draft Countdown (Emphasis mine)

Strengths:
Superb natural athlete...Good size and bulk...Very physical...Active and aggressive with a non-stop motor...Great tackler...Does a fantastic job supporting the run...Plays fast and has a burst to close...Good range...Outstanding leaper...Great footwork...Will deliver the big hit...Nice instincts...Will create big plays...Very productive...A phenomenal special teamer...Smart... Mature ...Hard worker... Leader.

Weaknesses:
Timed speed is just average...Does not have very good hands and drops too many interceptions...Has a thin lower body and needs to get stronger...Is not very fluid and doesn't flip his hips well...Will struggle to match up in coverage...Can be too eager at times and will get fooled.

Notes:
Two-year starter who took over for Chinedum Ndukwe...Team captain as a senior...Possesses the tools to be a force against the run as well as in coverage and could develop into a starter at the next level...Has Pro Bowl potential as a gunner on special teams...A better pro prospect than Tom Zbikowski, who was a third round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the  2008 Draft.

NFLDraftScout, via NFL.com (Emphasis Mine)

Positives: Centerfielder with good height and upper-body build. ... Nice straight-line speed and overall athleticism for his size. ... Usually able to track down ballcarriers from behind, although he will usually take the correct angle to prevent the catastrophic play. ... Covers a lot of ground in the deep half, with the ability to high-point the ball on the sideline for the interception. ... Good hands make to quarterbacks pay for overthrows. ... Also moves inside-out well to get to ballcarriers on stretch plays, either behind the line of scrimmage or working through trash. ... Breaks down well, getting low to make the tackle in the open field. ... Long enough to wrap up in space and get a hand on the ball to force the turnover. ... Major special teams contributor for the Irish as a gunner, winning hand-play at the line, beating the double team, showing good speed down the field and securing the tackle. ... Good leader and hard worker.

Negatives: Stiff in the hips. ... Has trouble flipping open in transition. ... Adequate closing on underneath patterns and staying with tight ends, but struggles manning up against quicker receivers. ... Needs to improve reading quarterback so he can be involved in more plays. ... Not physical enough against the run or in coverage. ... Often loses hand battles and fights for the ball with receivers. ... Doesn't explode into tackles, but is more of a catcher. ... Running backs drive through his arm tackles. ... Will whiff in the open field when ducking his head instead of seeing what he hits.

Bruton started out in the Rounds 4-5 range, but is slowly moving up, and now (most likely) will be a 3rd round selection.  He would give the Colts much needed help on Special Teams, which we all know is desparately needed.  He works his tail off, and is the kind of leader the Colts look for.

I couldn't find a highlight video, but NFL Network did a story on Bruton during the Combine.

 

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