clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What did anonymous scouts say about the players the Colts drafted?

New, comments
NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The lead up to the NFL Draft can also be called ‘anonymous scout season,’ as we always hear a number of comments from anonymous people within NFL scouting and personnel circles.

Sometimes these comments are completely truthful, and sometimes these comments are from scouts trying to get a certain player to fall or rise in the draft process in order to favor his team. Whatever the reason, it always is an interesting look into what people within the NFL who do scouting for a living think of certain players in the draft.

Each year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn runs a series of articles leading up to the draft in which scouts rank prospects at each position and give their thoughts. Now that the draft is over, let’s take a look at what those anonymous scouts had to say about the prospects the Colts drafted. We’ll look at McGinn’s write-up for certain players and I’ll share some thoughts about them.

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State - drafted by Colts in the first round; ranked by McGinn as the second-best safety:

Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has compared Hooker to Ed Reed, whom he coached at Miami. “He’s the best middle field guy by far,” said one scout. “Rare middle safety ability.” Third-year sophomore played little in 2015 before a seven-pick, 3-TD explosion in ’16. “Former basketball player,” said another scout. “Great body. Not a blazer. Got a lot of up side.” Largest hands of any DB (10 3/4). Underwent surgery Jan. 31 for a labrum tear and sports hernia. “You’re taking a bit of a risk because the kid’s only been a starter one year and he’s got the injury,” another scout said. “Good kid. Limited (two years) high school football.” Finished with 84 tackles, 7 picks and 11 PBUs. Wonderlic of 17. “He just struggles as a tackler,” a third scout said. “Lot of awkward positions, not very strong. Against the pass, he gets a lot of gifts. The Michigan game, the guy (Wilton Speight) threw the ball right at him. Does that make the guy a great ballhawk safety when he’s just standing there and they throw it right into his chest? Had a bunch of those this year. You do see the ball skill on some interceptions but he’s a little bit of a gambler. Kind of puzzling to me why he’s such a sure-fire top, top guy.” From New Castle, Pa.

There’s really nothing in here that we haven’t already heard about Malik Hooker: he’s been compared to Ed Reed; he’s got a lot of upside; he’s good in coverage; and there are concerns about his tackling. All of that is clear, and all of that we’ve heard from the Colts too. Ultimately, it seems that one’s opinion about Hooker depends greatly upon what type of safety is preferred. He’s not a strong tackler (though that can probably be improved), but he’s terrific in coverage. I think that having a safety who is a centerfielder with strong coverage abilities and ball skills is a huge boost in today’s passing league.

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida - drafted by Colts in the third round; ranked by McGinn as the seventh-best corner:

Third-year junior played 39 games (24 starts). “He’s got really nice length and body control,” said one scout. “Passion for the game. He will need some work on his tackling but has good hips. He wants to be physical with the receivers. Press corner.” Finished with 84 tackles, 6 picks and 17 PBUs. “He’s big and strong and physical and has really good feet,” another scout said. “He’ll tackle. When you get that big you’d love for them to be in the 4.4’s. Sometimes you’ve got to give up a little bit to get something else.” From Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “He ran well,” a third scout said. “Be a good press corner. He can play off a little bit. He’d be better (playing) up because he’s a big, strong kid.” His size has spawned talk of a shift at some point to safety. “He wants to play corner,” a fourth scout said. “He’ll be somebody’s press outside corner.”

Wilson is expected to start at cornerback for the Colts opposite of Vontae Davis, and the way that scouts describe him (a strong press corner, his size, etc.) gives reason for optimism that he could succeed in Chuck Pagano’s defense. Though he was ranked as the seventh-best corner in McGinn’s survey, keep in mind that this was a very strong cornerback class (just like with safety and EDGE and running back, etc.), and it sounds like scouts generally like Wilson’s play.

Tarell Basham, EDGE, Ohio - drafted by Colts in the third round; ranked by McGinn as the ninth-best defensive end:

Played 50 games for the Bobcats at DE. “He’s got something to work with,” said one scout. “Got a little bit of pass-rush juice. Good effort. Just a little raw.” Might be able to play OLB. “He did a lot of settling and reading more than attacking,” said a second scout. “He’ll need an awful lot of technique coaching (but) he has the tools to be a base end.” Finished with 152 tackles (38 ½ for loss) and 27 sacks. “Little immature,” said a third scout. “Kind of coasted. What’s his commitment going to be like? Yeah, he’s a good kid, but is he going to respond to being in the NFL on a daily basis? Or is he going to revert to, ‘I’m the best guy on a (expletive) team?’” From Rocky Mount, N.C.

Basham was included in the defensive end section of McGinn’s rankings but he’ll likely play outside linebacker in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme, as he’ll probably play the rush linebacker spot. One of the interesting things about what these scouts said about Basham was that there seems to be disagreement - one scout said that Basham had good effort while another said that he coasted. So there seems to be some disagreement there, but it seems that people like the raw traits that he has - he’ll just need coaching. Relying on the coaching staff to develop him might not be the most encouraging thing to Colts fans, but it means there’s a lot of upside with Basham if he can continue to improve.

Zach Banner, OT, USC - drafted by Colts in the fourth round; ranked by McGinn as the seventh-best tackle:

Biological father is Lincoln Kennedy, a two-time Pro Bowl RT for Oakland. “If he wanted to play he could play forever,” one scout said. “He’s just lazy. He is gigantic. He could just play from being big. But he’s an underachiever. He’s slow-moving but you can get away with that if you’re as big as he is. He just doesn’t give you effort.” Weighed almost 390 at one point in 2015. Started 37 of 38 games at LT but projects as an NFL RT. Had a terrible time trying to pass protect from there in the Senior Bowl. “He’s kind of got the size of maybe Aaron Gibson but not the same level athlete,” another scout said. “He is an absolute giant. Zach Strief (6-7, 320) came out of Northwestern and ended up starting a long time for New Orleans. Maybe one of those teams that puts a premium on size will take him.” From Tacoma, Wash.

With Zach Banner, it seems like size can be the biggest positive or the biggest negative. It can a positive because teams love his great size, as the Colts list him as 6-9. 360 pounds. But it can be a negative because, as noted above, his weight has been an issue at times in the past as he’s not kept at the right playing weight. He says that it won’t be an issue anymore, however, so we’ll see if that’s true. There are also some concerns about how Banner will hold up at tackle and that has led some to think a team might move him inside to guard, but the Colts seem to want to try him at tackle despite them announcing him as a guard at the draft.

Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida - drafted by Colts in the fourth round; ranked by McGinn as the eleventh-best running back:

Third-year junior. “More of a perimeter-space guy,” one scout said. “He doesn’t run real powerful inside. Kind of a third-downish kind of guy. Doesn’t play big.” Started all 36 games, carrying 586 times for 3,609 (6.2) and 32 TDs and catching 65 for 498. “Like a little jitterbug-type back,” said another scout. “It’s good he was in the spread offense. When he plays in the big-boy league and has to run between the tackles I don’t know how effective he’s going to be.” From Sarasota, Fla. “Not a fan,” said a third scout. “I think he runs out of bounds. He runs away from contact.”

This seems to be a case of a running back who can thrive if used correctly. These scouts pointed out that he might not be too effective inside between the tackles but can do well as a third down back and in a spread offense. The Colts likely will use Mack as a third down back at times this year (though he’ll need to show he can be ok in pass protection), and we’ll see how else they use him. If the Colts are smart and creative with him, then he’s got the speed and playmaking ability to be a difference-maker. But if the Colts simply try to use him between the tackles, things might not work out as great. Hopefully, Rob Chudzinski already has an idea of how to utilize the team’s fourth round back.

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern - drafted by Colts in the fifth round; ranked by McGinn as the eighth-best inside linebacker:

Fourth-year junior. “He’ll be starting on Sundays,” said one scout. “He is wired exactly the way you want your middle backer to be wired. Better run defender than pass but not a throwaway in the latter area. Just a really solid guy.” Son of a high school coach in Miami. “Brilliant smart (Wonderlic of 29),” another scout said. Finished with 278 tackles (39 ½) for loss and 7 ½ sacks. “He embodies everything Northwestern,” said a third scout. “Tight mover. Good eyes. Can play downhill. Has speed. Run and chase guy. Strong, forceful tackler. There is a degree of tightness within his hips.”

Anthony Walker was the Colts’ last pick, and there’s a lot to like from what these scouts say - even saying that he’ll be a starter. Walker was very productive at Northwestern, and he seems to be a good prospect who could wind up being a solid NFL starter. It’s unclear what his role will be with the Colts right away, but he’ll be competing with Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison, Sean Spence, and Jon Bostic at inside linebacker. That position seems to be wide open right now, so Walker probably will get a very real chance to compete. Whether or not he wins a starting spot right away is unknown, but he’s a guy to watch.