The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp on July 26 with their 90-man roster, which will be cut down to 53 players by the end of the preseason. To pass the time until camp, we're taking a look at every player on the Colts' 90-man roster. Today, we're looking at safety Dezmen Southward.
Who is he?
Unlike a number of unheralded players we've been looking at recently, Dezmen Southward actually was drafted in one of the earlier rounds of the NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons took the defensive back in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Wisconsin, where he played in 54 games (all of them consecutive, which broke a school record). He started 30 of those games, recording 152 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, and eleven passes defensed. He saw time with the Falcons in his first two seasons, playing in 19 games, and he made 24 tackles, a sack, two passes defensed, and an interception. His 2015 season was a rough one, as new head coach Dan Quinn moved him to cornerback due to his speed and length, but ESPN's Vaughn McClure (who covers the Falcons) wrote in September of last year that Southward "has not had a smooth transition to the new role." Midway through his second season with Atlanta, the team waived him (on November 6), and just four days later the Colts signed him to their practice squad. After the season ended, he was signed to a reserve/future contract.
What is his role?
It is worth noting that with the Colts, Southward is listed as a safety on the roster. It sounds like his failures in Atlanta were at least in part due to being moved to corner in 2015 (though his 2014 season wasn't anything special either), so the Colts could be taking a chance on the guy to see if they can develop him into a productive defensive back. The Colts already have three guys at safety guaranteed to make the roster (Mike Adams, Clayton Geathers, and T.J. Green), which leaves little room for Southward or any of the other safeties - likely coming down to one final spot. That role could be determined by special teams more than anything else, and if Southward shows he can contribute there he could be the guy to make the roster. Either way, he's a guy to keep an eye on due to his natural talent to see if the Colts coaching staff can help him turn his career around.
What are his chances?
He'll need to prove that he's making progress as a safety and can contribute on special teams to truly carve out a role on the 53-man roster - which isn't an easy task.