The East-West Shrine Game will take place this Saturday, and it will feature several intriguing prospects looking to improve their draft stock in advance of the 2016 NFL Draft. This event is, in many ways, the official beginning of draft season, as from here on out people will be very heavily focused on the draft.
One of the most beneficial parts of the Shrine game from our perspective is keeping track of the interviews that take place. NFL teams are allowed to talk with prospects on the field immediately after practices, and people try to pay attention to these meetings. NFL.com's Andy Fenelon and Chase Goodbread have been keeping up with several of them, and they note that on Tuesday the Indianapolis Colts talked to Oregon defensive lineman Alex Balducci.
It is important to note that the content of these meetings could be a wide variety of things. Sometimes, it can be as simple as clearing up a question and getting clarification, or it could be discussing a potential meeting later on, or things like that. So while it doesn't tell us much, it does tell us that the Colts have at least some interest in Balducci - enough that they wanted to talk with him after practice. As the draft season goes on, these interviews can help give a better idea of players the Colts are interested in or looking into.
Balducci (6-4, 310 pounds) finished his collegiate career at Oregon by starting the final 28 consecutive games as he played in 45 games total. In 2015, he set career highs with 40 tackles and six tackles for loss, being named an honorable mention All-Pac 12. In his career, Balducci recorded 77 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, four fumble recoveries, and one pass defensed. Before the season, NFL.com's Chad Reuter saw Balducci as one of the top late-round seniors for this year's draft, as he would be a guy who would get drafted late but who could perhaps be a space-eater along the defensive line for a team. So Balducci will very likely be a day three guy, but when some of the later rounds begin to roll around, perhaps he's a guy the Colts would have some interest in. That's precisely why they talk with players throughout the draft process, as they attempt to figure out whether the player would be a fit and whether they like him enough to draft him.