True to form, you knew the Colts had to have at least one puzzling draft pick that made us all stop and go, "who?" in the 2014 Draft, and that was certainly the case with seventh round pick Ulrick John?
Never heard of the guy? You're not alone. On their live draft broadcast, the NFL Network got his name wrong, putting "John Ulrick" instead of Ulrick John. NFL.com, CBS.com, and other draft sites didn't have a profile for him. Draft Breakdown didn't have any videos of him. So who exactly is this offensive tackle the Colts picked up in the seventh round of the draft, Ulrick John?
John played in 36 career games at Georgia State (starting 25) and was the team's best offensive lineman in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, when he was the starting left tackle. In 2013 he was an All Sun Belt conference honorable mention. In addition to being a two year starter at left tackle, John also saw time at both center and guard early in his tenure at Georgia State.
The first thing that jumps out about John is the very thing Ryan Grigson and others have noted as well - that John looks like a prototypical left tackle. He has great size (the Colts roster lists him as 6-5, though the Georgia State site lists him as 6-8 and I've seen everywhere in between as well. There are discrepancies with his weight, as well, but with both figures I've stuck to what the Colts roster says). He is an athletic player and a solid blocker. Reportedly, however, he does have some injury concerns:
Colts pick Ulrick John has some chronic shoulder issues. Source tells me "durablility is huge, huge question but has talent."— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) May 10, 2014
After the draft, Ryan Grigson gave his thoughts on John:
"He's interesting. He played against Alabama, West Virginia this year and played pretty darn well. To me, he's a true left tackle prospect, he's a developmental guy. But he's also played center and guard, so he kind of goes along with the theme. He's a guy that has multi-position flexibility. He's competitive, but he's very athletic and he's got room to grow. I'd like to see how he looks a year from now with Roger Marandino and our weight program because we feel like he has some upside. He's got a really good athletic base. He's competitive, he was at our top 30 visit. He was kind of an unknown. It's going to be interesting to see how he develops because the athletic core and character, size and all those things are there, and he knows how to play the game. He actually was a center in high school as well, I think he was only like 240 pounds or something, he was a skinny guy."
Though I didn't like the pick at the time and I still don't love it, I think that Ulrick John is a better player than most think and I think he's a good developmental guy. The problem the Colts have is that they have quite a few linemen. The saying that I keep using is that they need better linemen, not more linemen. Grigson mentioned how John is a versatile player and can play multiple spots, but the way he has built the offensive line, so can most of the players the Colts have. That's what Grigson seems to really value in linemen, and as a result most of the guys the Colts add can play multiple spots. This is especially important for backup linemen, but it won't be something that sets John apart from the competition because, well, the other linemen battling for a roster spot are versatile too.
Basically, here's what it boils down to: in order to make a roster spot this year, John will have to beat out guys like Joe Reitz, Lance Louis, Jack Mewhort, Xavier Nixon, and others. Those are the guys who figure to be the prominent choices as the backup linemen, and then there will always be guys who make strong pushes in camp as well. For Ulrick John to make the roster he'll need to beat out some of those guys, and that's a tall task for a seventh rounder. I would expect him to end up on the practice squad, however, because it sounds like the Colts want to develop him as a left tackle and for that I do think he'd be worth a spot on the practice squad. But to expect him to make the roster this year is unrealistic and the hope for John is that he can continue to develop as the left tackle the Colts think and hope that he can be.
Quick Summary: Ulrick John:
Weight: 300 pounds
College: Georgia State
Drafted: Seventh round (232nd overall)
Statistical Resume: 36 career games (25 starts); saw time at left tackle (two-year starter), center, and guard
Contract: 4-years, $2,277,848 ($57,848 signing bonus), $432,462 cap hit in 2014 (via Spotrac)
Pros: prototypical size for a left tackle; athletic; solid blocker; versatility
Cons: highly developmental prospect; reported injury concerns;
Twitter: @Ujohn1john (unverified)