In the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts took Clemson safety T.J. Green with the 57th overall pick after a trade down with the Green Bay Packers, though they said that Green was their target all along.
Head coach Chuck Pagano was a huge proponent of the move and very excited about it, giving the impression that he was the one leading the charge in drafting Green. There seems to be a wide range of opinions about the safety in the media, however, and Green seems to be a bit of a project who will sit for the Colts for a year or so while playing on special teams.
To learn more about the Colts' new safety, we consulted with Shakin' the Southland, SB Nation's site covering Clemson. Brian Lewis was kind enough to answer some questions for us to help us get to know Green some more. The questions are in bold, and then Brian's answers follow.
1. How did T.J. Green do on-the-field at Clemson during his tenure there?
Green was decent. He certainly wasn't a shut down safety that could do everything, but he definitely did a good [job] when called upon. Green was definitely an important, and sometimes unheralded, piece to Clemson's defense and it is a blow to lose him. I would prefer to have him at Clemson in 2016, but he made the decision to jump to the NFL early.
2. Are there any off-the-field concerns (that you know about) that fans should be aware of?
From everything I've seen Green has been a good guy off the field. He's always been willing to put in the extra work when called upon and I don't think he's ever been in Dabo's doghouse for academic or legal reasons. I've heard he is a bit of a quiet guy, not your typical trash talking secondary player, but he's focused on getting the job done.
3. What are some of Green's biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Like most of our defense, Green's strength is stopping the run. His speed and athleticism allowed [him] to move to the point of attack and try to make the tackle. He also does a good job of staying in his lane and not getting caught out when over pursuing. His biggest weakness is coverage. Blown coverage on two plays against Alabama were death blows to Clemson's chances, and that wasn't the first time it has happened unfortunately. Because of his strength against the run, he may always be thinking run first which seems to make him susceptible to play action. Some of that could also be how little we see play action passes at Clemson though so I don't want to draw too many conclusions there.
4. How do you think he will do transitioning to the NFL level?
For me the big question is how he will do transitioning into pass coverage. And I don't know that he has enough experience for me to give you a really good guess on that. Green was originally a WR before moving to safety, so he certainly understands receivers, but that transition takes time, especially when you add in another jump in competition. It is a big mystery which makes the pick odd at this point in the draft.
5. Do you think this was a good pick by the Colts (in terms of player and draft position)?
I think the pick is a good one, I think the position Green was taken was terrible. This seems to be a classic example of reaching for a player based on his physical attributes and not what he shows on tape. Everyone at STS thought Green should stay in school for another year and that he was a mid-round player at best right now. Instead agents got in his head and he left early. I'm glad he got picked so early because it gives him a better opportunity, but it wasn't a smart decision by the Colts.
Thanks again to Brian Lewis at Shakin' the Southland for answering these questions!