There's something likable about a rookie who had to work just a bit harder than most to earn a spot on the team.
Almost all of the Colts undrafted free agents had to just make a few phone calls and decide on the best fit for them. Once they signed with Indianapolis, that was it.
Allen Chapman was left out of that mix.
The rookie cornerback didn't sign with any team after the draft and instead decided to try out for the Colts, who coincidentally enough had just signed his former starting cornerback teammate from Kansas State in Nigel Malone.
Chapman was the only tryout player the Colts signed. And to add an awkward twist to the story, the team cut Malone in favor of keeping Chapman. Hopefully that didn't do anything to affect their friendship.
Anyway, the tryout tag makes Chapman stand out a little more than the other undrafted free agents. What exactly did he do that impressed the Colts enough to sign him?
We'll likely find out the answer to that over the next few weeks during training camp and preseason. But before that time comes, let's take a look at what Chapman brings to the table.
The first of Chapman's traits that jumps out at you is his size, and not in a good way. He comes in at 5'11 and 181 pounds, third-lightest on the roster next to fellow undrafted cornerback Sheldon Price (180 pounds) and second-year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (178 pounds).
That's just Chapman's listed weight with the Colts. When he was at Kansas State, it was down to 176 pounds.
Chapman's rail-thin frame shows up in some ways when you watch his tape. He plays a finesse style with his coverage and doesn't beat wide receivers with any type of physicality. His height and weight just won't allow it.
However, his tackling doesn't seem to suffer at all. Just follow him for the first four minutes of last year's game between Kansas State and Oklahoma. Chapman is #3 and primarily plays on the left side of the defense.
I especially liked the play Chapman made at 2:35. Off a screen pass to his side of the field, he makes a strong open-field tackle and actually pushes a bigger and stronger player back from the line of scrimmage in Justin Brown, a 6'3, 209-pound wide receiver. Size and weight don't seem to matter here. And with the chance to be one of the final defensive backs chosen for the active roster, special teams abilities like steady tackling are what will win Chapman a spot on the team.
I liked what I saw from Chapman in this game with his run support as well as his coverage skills. What may have stood out the most, though, was his instincts.
Allen obviously knows his role and doesn't put himself out of position very often. He often takes correct angles and knows where his teammates are going to be on the field. To be blunt, he just carries himself like a smart player.
Admittedly, this is based off one game, which is too small of a sample size to make any sweeping judgements on Chapman. But he was impressive against Oklahoma, and the skills he showed in this game make it easy to see why he's getting a shot in the NFL.
For a full look at Chapman's style of play, here's the one scouting report I could find on him, via Draft Insider:
Positive: Instinctive cornerback with an underrated game. Athletic, quick flipping his hips, and easily transitions off the line with opponents. Effectively reads receivers eyes then gets his head back around to locate the pass in the air. Displays good route recognition in zone coverage, keeps the action in front of him, and quick up the field defending the run. Gets vertical and contorts in midair to defend the throw. Displays an explosive burst to the ball out of his plant.
Negative: Not a strong open field tackler or a sturdy cornerback and loses in battles. Possesses average downfield/long speed.
Analysis: Chapman is a skilled cornerback with solid ball skills and a complete game. Speed is a concern yet at the very least he offers potential as a dime back in zone coverage at the next level.
You can see most of the same qualities talked about here from the Oklahoma tape. I didn't notice any speed concerns, but that may be because Chapman never put himself in position to have to run down a player.
Chapman seems like the type of player the current Colts regime has tried to bring in since they arrived in 2012. He's smart, instinctive and tough, despite any physical limitations. He is inconsistent and will get burnt occasionally, but that's why he was an undrafted player in the first place.
One of Chapman's most noteworthy games came last season against Oklahoma State, when he had three interceptions and was named the FBS Defensive Player of the Week. Check out the highlights below:
Chapman was the "other" cornerback at Kansas State behind Nigel Malone. Not so much with the Colts. He's another young player to watch over the next month.