It's that time of year when undrafted free agents are either signed or brought in for a tryout, and we have a list of those who agreed to terms with the Colts yesterday. Today, they announced another one, and this one is very interesting. The Colts signed former Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy - a player with plenty of talent but with plenty of off-the-field issues to go with it.
Purifoy, a 6-1, 189 pound corner, played in 37 career games for the Gators, starting 19. He notched 102 tackles, 12 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery, as well as being a great special teams player too. Numerous websites have listed him as one of the top undrafted free agents available, though some have also wondered whether he will make it anywhere because of his off-the-field concerns. Entering the 2013 season, many listed Purifoy as a first round talent, but he went undrafted in this past weekend's NFL Draft. His play wasn't as great in 2013 so he fell on draft boards, but was still likely a 3rd-4th round prospect before he was caught with drugs, only avoiding arrest by being a police informant. He has a lot of drug concerns from teams and that has led to people wondering whether he was worth signing.
Here's what NFL.com's scouting report said of him:
STRENGTHSGood size, arm length and athleticism. Fluid and light on his feet. Transitions smoothly. Can flip his hips and carry receivers deep. Flashes playmaking ability. Good hands to intercept. Tries to strip the ball out. Has special-teams experience returning and covering kicks -- was productive as a gunner earlier in his career. Conditioned, confident and competitive. Has upside.
WEAKNESSESShared reps as a junior. Needs to get functionally stronger to jam/re-route and shed blocks. Produced just six reps on the 225-pound bench-press test, lowest among all defensive backs at the combine. Did not run well at the combine, recording below-average times in the 4.6s. Gives up separation at the break point and gets outmuscled at the catch point. Inconsistent, leaky, underpowered tackler. Instincts and anticipation are lacking. Technique needs to be coached up -- opens the gate and gets beat off the snap. Leaves production on the field -- in position, but doesnt make the play. Questionable tackle and ball production -- registered just 24 tackles as a junior and logged just 12 PBUs and two INTs from 2012-13. Marginal run strength as a returner.
Lean, fluid, finesse cover man with better raw, physical ability than his inconsistent performance indicates. Has starter-caliber athleticism, but poor instincts, tackling and tape are reasons for pause.
Certainly, if someone who was considered a second or early third day prospect, getting him as an undrafted free agent makes perfect sense, and talent-wise, this is a great move for the Colts to add a cornerback. But the main question is about his off-the-field issues and concerns, and that can leave people to wonder whether signing him was worth it. To me, I think that with a strong locker room like the Colts have they can afford to bring in someone with his talent and hope it works out without having to be concerned about the locker room culture. There's no guarantee whatsoever that Purifoy will stick around, but if he can get his act together he would be a valuable addition to the Colts and a great move by Ryan Grigson. It's a big if, but I don't see huge risk with this move either.
[UPDATE:] If you want to know more about why Purifoy went undrafted, this is a simply terrific article by Alligator Army's Andy Hutchins on the subject. Check it out here.