With the release of Melvin Bullitt last week, the Colts are again in search of a running mate in the defensive backfield for Antoine Bethea. It seems like every year we are asking for help in this spot. Oft injured as they were, Bullitt and Bob Sanders were both useful. But, as I've heard someone say before, if you can't stay on the field, you lose all value.
One target in this year's draft could be Boise State SS George Iloka, pronounced (eye-LOKE-uh). Listed as a player that can play either SS or FS, has time at CB and stepped down to a OLB spot on the Boise blue turf, Iloka has the size and speed to compete at the NFL level. A consistent starter for the(40 consecutive starts), he also was named to the All-Mountain West 1st team and honorable mention All-American after his senior season.
His size and athleticism set him apart for me. Measured at 6'4" and 225 pounds at the combine, he is a tall player for a safety. His career in Boise included 231 tackles and 7 interceptions, which showcase his nose for the play and ability to make a play on the ball when available. He really started to garner attention with his performance at the Senior Bowl. He started the week a bit slow with some problems in man coverage, but was able to show progress during the week making a highlight reel diving interception during a practice.
He dwarfs Bethea by 5 inches and 20 pounds, looking more like Larry Fitzgerald than any safety we've seen in blue and white. One area where his size hinders him is in his agility and footwork in man coverage. He also tends to launch himself at ballcarriers, leaving his feet instead of wrapping and driving. This has given him some problems with consistency when breaking down and tackling in space.
After the jump we'll look at what the draft sites say as well as his combine numbers and my thoughts. Don't forget to check out all the potential picks on our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.
Iloka is a tall kid with solid balance for his size and has some natural athleticism and pop. Has experience playing corner and being a physical press coverage man. However, he isn't a guy who can quickly re-direct and close on the football in the deep half. He needs to play with his hands on defenders, but is a more coordinated bigger safety than say Seahawks starter Kam Chancellor and he could start at the next level.
Lean, narrow-framed, long-levered FS prospect with intriguing play speed, movement skills, range and athletic ability (38-inch vertical leap). However, his tape leaves something to be desired and his inconsistent tackling is worrisome.
Iloka has been a very productive player for Boise State and has been a factor since arriving in 2008. He is a superb zone defender who understands how to diagnose and react to plays. He is the quarterback of the secondary and has length to make plays and the speed to have range in zone. He should be a backup early on and contribute early on, and displays starting traits; third-round value.
My take for the Colts -
I would love to see him in blue. He has the size and length to deal with the bigger TEs and the athletic ability, with work, to be useful in three-wide sets. What I like most is his ability to stay on the field in college. I, like many of you, am tired of seeing safeties off the street play for the Colts because someone is injured. Early second seems to be too high, but he may be gone by early third. If we swing a deal for multiple 2nd rounders, I would love to see him come to Indy. His versatility also gets me thinking. Pagano really likes to move players around and his size allows for some intriguing possibilities.