Every year, there is an overwhelming amount of discussion about certain prospects and, of course, what anonymous scouts think about those players. And every year, one of the largest compilations of anonymous scout comments about a number of players comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn, who conducts player rankings and plenty of quotes from scouts.
We talk about these quotes all of the time before the draft, but after the draft they seem to just disappear and we act like they never existed. Bucs Nation's Sander Philipse noticed this recently and decided to look at McGinn's quotes on Noah Spence from before the draft and write about them. It's a good idea to take a look at what anonymous scouts were saying about the players, so let's take a look at what those scouts told McGinn before the draft about some of the players the Colts wound up taking.
Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama - drafted by Colts in the first round:
Assumed the job from Barrett Jones in 2013 and outperformed him. "He's a lot better than Barrett Jones was," said one scout. "Does he blow people off the ball? No. Is he tough enough? Absolutely." Smart (Wonderlic of 29), quick and has the longest arms (33 5/8) of the centers. "He's got Pro Bowl potential," said another scout. "Very athletic, tough, strong. I think he's a two (second-round pick) and it wouldn't shock me if a team desperate for a center took him late one. He has that Logan Mankins feel when Logan came out of Fresno (in 2005). He'll have a long career because he's a technician." From West Chester, Ohio. "I don't love him but he's a day-one starter," a third scout said. "He needs strength."
The consensus on Kelly seems to be exactly what other analysts have noted: he's a very solid player who should have a long career and could make some Pro Bowls too. The scouts were also exactly right about Kelly in that he could perhaps become a first round pick by a team desperate for a center (that was the Colts, for sure) and that he would be a day one starter (which he will be in Indianapolis). All in all, these quotes are kind of boring because they agree with everything we've heard - it seems like everyone is of the opinion that Kelly is a very solid lineman who will be a long-term starter.
T.J. Green, safety, Clemson - drafted by Colts in the second round:
Moved from WR to safety in 2014 after catching two passes as a true freshman. Backed up in '14 and started at FS in'15, but now some teams are prepared to draft him as a tall press CB. "He's got the skill set for it," said one scout. "It might be easier for him because there's less thinking involved." Third-year junior from Sylacauga, Ala. "I thought he had some cover ability," another scout said. "He was in the slot at times. I had no idea he would run that fast." Finished with 118 tackles (5 ½ for loss), 1 pick and 3 PBUs. "There's a rush to judgment on this kid right now," a third scout said. "It happens on juniors. He was a wide receiver out of high school but he couldn't catch the ball so they move him. He kind of came on the scene this year. I was surprised he came out. I think he needs more coaching. He's got some stiffness but he is fast in a straight line." Wonderlic of 18.
While the selection of Kelly was one that nearly everyone liked and while there seemed to be a consensus on his talent-level, the same can't be said of T.J. Green. In McGinn's rankings Green was actually included as a cornerback, likely based on what the scouts were saying - for example, one scout said that he has the skillset for it and that corner might be easier for him. The Colts have made it clear, however, that Green is a safety first and foremost in their system. The opinion of these scouts seems to be the same as a number of others: that Green could have benefitted from staying in school but that he does have talent.
Le'Raven Clark, offensive tackle, Texas Tech - drafted by Colts in the third round:
Longest arms (36 1/8) and biggest hands (11) at the position. "In a couple years maybe he could start," said one scout. "Just because he's so damn long." Started 13 games at RG and the last 38 at LT in a throwing attack. "He's coming out of spread offense, he doesn't know anything about run blocking and he ain't very strong," a second scout said. Just 18 reps on the bench, worst at the position, and Wonderlic of 17. "He's got a lot of up side," a third scout said. "He's got feet, athleticism and length. They tell me he may have knee issues." From Rockdale, Texas.
I appreciate these comments about Le'Raven Clark because I think they summarize the pick up well: he is a very talented player but is more of a project than someone like Ryan Kelly. These scouts noted that transitioning from a spread offense to the NFL is a project, while Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has also noted the difficulty of that and of scouting offensive linemen in those offenses. Because of all of that, I think it's probably a big stretch to project him to start right away for the Colts, as ideally he'll be a guy they develop for a bit. He's certainly talented, but the opinion seems to be that he needs to develop and improve some more.
Hassan Ridgeway, defensive lineman, Texas - drafted by Colts in the fourth round:
Fourth-year junior, two-year starter. “He’s a very talented athlete who is slowly on the come,” one scout said in early April. “He’ll be a fast riser in the next three weeks. He can play nose, 3- and 5-technique. He’s going second round.” Playing in a one-gap scheme, finished with 92 tackles (18 ½ for loss) and 9 ½ sacks. “Doesn’t play hard all the time,” said another scout. “Has early second-round talent but he’s not as good as Malcom Brown. He’s not as tough as Malcom Brown.” From Mansfield, Texas. “There’s a guy that’s overrated,” a third scout said. “I don’t know why he was at the combine. I definitely don’t like (University of) Texas football players. He’s weak, doesn’t get off blocks, not a glass-eater, not a pass rusher. I don’t know what anybody saw in this guy.”
The comments on Hassan Ridgeway seem to differ some, as one scout said that Ridgeway would be a fast riser while another said that he doesn't know why people like the lineman. I suppose you will find disagreement on any fourth round pick, however, so it's not too surprising, but it is interesting that the one scout said that Ridgeway is "not a pass rusher." That is where his strength is and that's what he is best at, so that's interesting. Overall, though, it seems like the comments are in line with what we've heard so far.
Antonio Morrison, inside linebacker, Florida - drafted by Colts in the fourth round:
Slowest LB in the draft. "All I know is what I see on tape," said one scout. "If the guard comes out on him he punches the guard right in the face and knocks him on the ground. Tough as nails. He'll show up at your football facility at 6 before the janitor gets there and will still be watching tape at 11 at night. He was described as a flower growing through concrete. He's rough around the edges. Kind of in your face. He calls out any teammate that's goofing off. He did some really stupid, immature things at Florida early. He's not a bad, malicious kid....He's going to be sitting there in the later part of the draft and someone's going to say, 'Screw it, take him.' Then two years from now you'll go, 'Holy (expletive), what a great pick.'" Blew out his knee in January 2015 but was back playing by the opener. "He's 100 miles an hour but he worked out terrible, so that's going to hurt him," said another scout. Finished with 294 tackles (21 for loss), 4 ½ sacks and 5 big plays. From Bolingbrook High School in suburban Chicago.
We've heard a lot about Antonio Morrison's toughness since the Colts drafted him, and that really shows up in these comments. He may not have the best athleticism or be the most physically gifted, but he makes up for that with his effort and physical play. I love the line from one scout about how in a few years a team might go "Holy (expletive), what a great pick," as that's the type of thing you want to hear about mid-round picks. They may not contribute right away and there may be some downside, but the upside is always encouraging.