The Indianapolis Colts drafted safety Clayton Geathers with the tenth overall pick in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, obviously signifying that the team liked what the safety brought to the table.
So far, however, Geathers seems to have exceeded expectations in offseason workouts and OTAs. And that could lead to a bigger role than some might have initially thought that he would occupy in his rookie season.
Asked whether Geathers could play his way into that bigger role this year, head coach Chuck Pagano said that, "I don't think there's any doubt about it.
"Again, from a physical standpoint, he's what you're looking for," Pagano told the media today. "He's got size and he's got speed. Very intelligent guy, he's got good FBI [football intelligence]. He learns extremely, extremely well. We're playing him at safety. We're playing him down in the box in sub-packages as a dime backer. So he's learning the backend plus he's learning the sub stuff. He's been really impressive as far as picking things up. He's an athletic guy. Like I said, he's going to be one of those guys that in today's football you can play inside as a dime backer and get faster, get more speed on the field and matchup with the tight ends that we've got to cover now, the backs out of the backfield and things like that. He's doing really well. He's going to contribute, not only on defense, but he should be an outstanding special teamer as well."
Pagano mentioned playing Geathers in the dime package, and that's likely where much of his impact defensively will come to begin with. That was a role that the Colts could see him in before they drafted him, and that's where he's been playing quite a bit recently in OTAs.
"You could see it on tape," Pagano noted. "He was in the right spot. He was a guy that had instincts. The physical attributes, like I said, were there. He's a big hitter coming downhill, moving forward. He was very impactful in the game. Like most young players in the backend, especially safeties, playing deep, going backwards is usually where it takes a little bit of time. But he's doing well with that as well. He's further ahead. He's kind of exceeded our expectations to this point, and I think mostly because ofhow we're using him in our dime package."
Considering that the team thought highly enough of him to use an early fourth round pick on the safety, that's high praise for Chuck Pagano as he said that Geathers has exceeded their expectations so far. His role in the team's dime package was a focal point of Pagano's praise of the safety as well, and it seems pretty clear that is where Pagano, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, and the rest of the staff picture him playing in 2015. It's unlikely that Geathers will supplant either Mike Adams or Dwight Lowery as the starting safeties this year, so getting playing time however he can will be important. That will likely come through dime packages and through special teams, and if he keeps up his impressive play that could turn into increased snaps. He's been one of the early standouts in OTAs so far, so obviously he's off to a good start. Hopefully, he keeps it up.