When the Indianapolis Colts traded down from pick number 61 to get the 65th overall pick and a higher fourth round pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were taking a risk. They had a player that they really liked and wanted, and they were hoping that he would still be available four picks later. He was, and the Colts emerged from the draft very happy about getting Florida Atlantic cornerback D'Joun Smith.
General manager Ryan Grigson talked about what went into the decision to draft Smith:
"We like the film first and foremost. Then he tested and he ran so fast, he benched. Everything kind of lined up there as well, that was just an added bonus. Then when we met with the kid, sometimes a guy walks in and he leaves and we all just look at each other, you feel like wow we've got to have this guy. So much so Coach Pagano went and worked him out down at his school. He was just one of those guys that was always kind of in our wheel-house that we wanted to have here because he has a certain tenacity about him. He'll support in the run. He's an explosive 4.3 [40 time] guy, he returns kicks and he can do a lot for you. He's all business and the way he came across in that interview was somebody that's very focused, driven and tough."
"Coach [Chuck Pagano] worked him out and we both watch the film. For me personally when you look at him, the movement skills and when the ball was in the air he could locate it. He has vertical speed to run with receivers deep, and he could locate in the air and make plays on the ball. He's got some thump for a smaller guy too. He'll put his face on you. He's a good tackler and he's a competitive kid that's very balanced run or pass. Coach is the DB expert. He can give you obviously some real good stuff on him. We feel great about that pick."
Chuck Pagano, who has experience coaching defensive backs, chimed in with some analysis of Smith as well.
"This kid has position flexibility back there. I know he can play outside. I know he can go inside. He's tough enough and smart enough. He's got the short area quick's along with long speed to play the nickel spot. When I went down to FAU to work this kid out, we were very, very impressed at the combine with the interview. He's wired right. He's a very, very competitive guy. He's a great teammate. You go in the weight room and you go to these different pro days and you work these guys out. The way that a guy interacts during a pro day with his teammates, the energy that he brought to that entire day, just in the weight room. He could have stood on his numbers alone from the combine and just done position specific drills with us that day. The great competitors, they see the guys going and they get juiced up and amped up. He jumped right in there and did 18, 19, 20 whatever benches it was. He's compact, he's strong as heck. He was the guy leading everybody cheering his teammates on. We got out to the field and he didn't have to run. He ran fast at the combine. He had a bunch of scouts there, bunch of people there, his teammates were there and he elected to run. He warmed up and I think he ran a 4.39. A bunch of guys had low 4.3's on them. Great competitor, then we put him through all the position drills. Great change of direction, great feet. Good hips, can high point the ball, locate the ball, good ball skills. He's wired the right way to play out on the island the way we ask guys to play. He loves that challenge."
Ryan Grigson added another thing they liked about Smith:
"Another thing just sitting here thinking about him was when we had that interview, I remember Chuck turned to me and you said something about corners never know thing like this. When they had him going through our defense, talking just ball with him, he seemed very, very strong in terms of his football intelligence. He just kind of knew what everyone was doing on the field and it was very impressive. At every turn this kid impressed us. His all-business approach and he's got a real quiet toughness about him. It shows up on the field and we're excited about this guy."
Make no mistake - the Colts really like this guy. It was evident last night in the way that both Grigson and Pagano raved about D'Joun Smith, and he was their target with their second round pick as well. Grigson said that Smith is "definitely" a guy that can come in and play meaningful snaps right away, and "that's why we took him where we did."
He'll likely begin his tenure with the Colts competing for the fourth cornerback spot (a spot that is wide open right now), but if there is an injury he could step in and play there. He's likely more of a slot corner right now, but there's the hope that he could turn into a starter for the Colts down the road.
Regardless of your opinion on Grigson, Pagano, or the pick, it's reassuring and nice to hear how much they raved about Smith last night. They seem to really like him, and that's a good thing.