In the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts drafted safety Clayton Geathers out of Central Florida, addressing a big need for the first time in the draft. And while Geathers isn't projected to be a starting safety this year, he still could have a significant impact - both now and in the future.
At Central Florida, Geathers was a four-year starter, playing in 53 career games and starting 52 of them (all of them in a row to close out his career). He notched 383 tackles (19 for loss), a sack, three picks, 30 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. After a senior season during which he was a captain and in which he was named the most outstanding defensive back at the Central Florida awards banquet, Geathers participated in the Senior Bowl. Geathers comes from a long line of NFL players in his family, as five others have previously played in the league, though all as defensive linemen.
The Colts had major concerns at the safety position when free agency began, as they still had yet to re-sign Pro Bowler Mike Adams and had a void at the other spot. The team brought back Adams, however, and then later in free agency signed another veteran in Dwight Lowery. Entering the draft, though, many thought that the team's biggest need was still safety, and when Landon Collins was still available at pick number 29 in the first round, it seemed like the no-brainer choice for the Colts. Instead they took Phillip Dorsett, waiting until their third pick (which came in the fourth round) to take a safety. The Colts have been pleased with Geathers' work so far this offseason, too, as head coach Chuck Pagano said last month that the safety had "exceeded our expectations to this point."
Adams and Lowery are expected to be the starters at the position, but Geathers could push for some playing time if he continues to impress, and he also could factor into the team's plans for the future at the position. In his rookie year he will likely start out by contributing on special teams, but he could work his way into some playing time at safety, and with both Adams and Lowery being veteran players, the Colts could be looking for a young player to develop. The most likely candidate would be Geathers, who the Colts liked enough to draft early in the fourth round and who has been impressing them in offseason work. So while he could work his way into a contributing role this year, Clayton Geathers is a player to watch with the future in mind as well.