The Colts are heading into a big game against the Jacksonville Jaguars but they should still be keeping an eye on college players this Saturday. With plenty of needs and Chris Ballard showing that he is a pretty good evaluator of talent, the 2019 NFL Draft will be vital towards the future success of the Colts.
This week’s guest analyst is my good friend Russell Brown of Cover1.net. Russ is an excellent evaluator of talent and really does some excellent work over at Cover 1. Let’s jump into Russ’ picks for this week’s Scouting Notebook.
Ben Burr-Kirven, ILB (6’0” 222)
Ben Burr-Kirven can be a very good pro player, despite his smaller size. He was an outstanding high school player, was named the Division III State Player of the Year and was a finalist for California’s Mr. Football award in 2014. Upon arriving at Washington in 2015, Burr-Kirven immediately received playing time. He has improved each season before really breaking out in 2018. For his career, Burr-Kirven has 296 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 3 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 6 forced fumbles. He is currently a semifinalist for the Bednarik award in 2018.
Russell Brown’s Analysis
Could fall under the radar because of his size (6’0 and 222 lbs). However, former Washington Huskie Shaq Thompson checked in at 6’0 and 228 lbs and was a first round pick. There’s no doubt that he’ll be the most aggressive linebacker in the country. There are times that he’s over-aggressive but overall, he’s tackling machine. Has no issues dropping into coverage. With this becoming a pass happy league, he’ll have a role for a team that needs help in coverage and on special teams.
In this clip, Burr-Kirven (#25) is able to quickly diagnose a screen play and run the ball carrier down to limit positive yards. The athleticism to break out of his initial read step inside is pretty impressive for a linebacker.
A capable run defender, Burr-Kirven is able to get around the guard and make a tackle for very little gain. The instincts to fill the run lane, along with the quickness to evade the guard in traffic, has to be something that Chris Ballard would value.
In our next clip, Burr-Kirven drops into zone coverage to make a play on the ball. This skills may be the one that could best help the Colts. An athletic linebacker who excels in coverage could be a huge asset.
Fit with the Colts
Burr-Kirven could immediately step in as a sub linebacker/ coverage backer. The Colts could line Burr-Kirven up at WLB, shift Darius Leonard to MLB and Anthony Walker to SLB. While Walker has had a solid season, he has has not been strong against the pass. A guy like Burr-Kirven could mask Walker’s weakness and help establish a solid, young three man rotation at linebacker.
N’Keal Harry, WR (6’4” 213)
N’Keal Harry has the size and production to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. A former five star recruit, he has been productive since stepping on the field for Arizona State. For his career, Harry has 195 receptions for 2629 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also has 22 carries for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has also returned 12 punts for 170 yards and a touchdown — making him a versatile threat for any team that drafts him.
Russel Brown’s Analysis
As long as Andrew Luck is there, they’ll always look for offensive weapons. N’Keal Harry could be a late first round pick or early day two pick. At 6’4, Harry is a big target who has plenty of versatility. The Sun Devils utilize him in a variety of ways, including playing him on the outside, in the slot and taking direct snaps. He struggles with press coverage but has no problems getting down field and creating separation. He has the ability to make contested catches and can track the ball as good as any receiver in the class.
Harry is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, though he is not an outstanding athlete. In this clip, he makes a player miss on the screen and has free running room for a touchdown. He is surprisingly elusive in space for a player of his size.
This clips represents how he can would excel with Luck. He is great at high pointing passes and making difficult catches, making him an instant bail out option when nobody is open. With his body control and hands, Harry has the ability to make these plays consistently on Sundays.
Harry brings that same high point ability and great hands on jump ball situations in the redzone. This could give Luck a true weapon on the outside in this area of the field, resulting in more touchdowns.
Fit with the Colts
Harry would immediately step in as the number two receiver option behind T.Y Hilton. His excellent hands and body control would be an excellent asset for Andrew Luck when he pushes the ball downfield. His size would help him translate into another redzone threat. He would open up so much more production for Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle in the middle of the field by drawing attention on the outside.
Lavert Hill, CB (5’10” 177)
Despite his smaller frame, Lavert Hill has the ability and mentality to be a solid pro player. Hill, brother of former Michigan safety Delano Hill, is a former four star prospect who has played significant snaps for the Michigan Wolverines the last two seasons. For his career, Hill has 37 tackles, 11 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, and 2 return touchdowns. Hill was also named as an All-Big Ten Second Team corner in 2017.
Russell Brown’s Analysis
One of my favorite cornerbacks coming into the year was Lavert Hill from Michigan. He hasn’t played as good as he did a season ago but he’s still very talented and his tape is consistent. He’s an aggressive press corner who has some great hip fluidity. At 5’10 and 177 pounds, teams will wonder how much he can bulk up and there will be questions marks on his length — especially, when he’ll matchup with Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Overall, you don’t draft him to be the number one cornerback. He’s been a shutdown corner for Michigan and could become a solid number two for the Colts.
Despite being the smaller player, Hill is able to fight for position inside on this jump ball. As a result, he in position to make a play on an underthrown pass. By getting his head around, he is able to locate the ball and get the pass breakup down the field.
Hill is excellent at staying on the inside hip of a receiver in man coverage. He may not be a perfect zone corner fit, but he has the grittiness to work into the scheme. His man coverage abilities could give the Colts a little bit more scheme diversity as well.
Fit with the Colts
Hill won’t wow anybody with his athleticism or size but he’s a tenacious player who could get some playing time with the Colts. The team is in desperate need of talent at the cornerback position. Outside of Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II, every corner on the Colts roster has struggled this season. Hill would likely not be the day one starter on the outside, but he’d add very valuable depth to a team that needs it.
David Edwards, OT (6’7” 315)
David Edwards has had quite the journey to becoming a college offensive tackle. A former high school quarterback, Edwards has grown into one of the top tackle prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. For his career, Edwards has played in 26 games while making 19 starts. He was a part of an offensive line that led the way for Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to rush for 1,977 yards in 2017. He was also named as a First Team All-American in 2017.
Russell Brown’s Analysis
It’s not everyday that you meet an offensive lineman for Wisconsin that’s a former option quarterback. That’s what Edwards was in high school as a 215 pound quarterback. When he arrived in Wisconsin, he was a 245 pound tight end. Now he’s over 310 pounds and has been anchoring the right side of the line of scrimmage for the Badgers. He’s been praised for his leadership along the offensive line. As for his tape, it’s obvious that he’s still molding into his new weight. He’s relatively consistent in his kick step and can transfer his weight from his post foot to his set foot. This helps with handling edge rushers that change direction from inside-to-outside or outside-to-inside. Hand placement could become more consistent and he will have to take better angles with aggressive pass sets or when attacking the second level. Overall, he’ll need more polishing but by adding him to an offensive line that has Nelson and Smith from last year would give the Colts one of the best young offensive lines in the league.
Although he could get a bit stronger, Edwards is a solid run blocker. He is insanely quick out of his stance and moves well for a lineman. Here, Edwards pulls from the right tackle position to set the edge. His quickness to get outside is impressive.
While the next clip is negative for Wisconsin’s line overall, look at how Edwards controls Sam Hubbard. He is quick out of his stance and is able to get back into his set before Hubbard reaches him. Once he locks on, he is able to control the block through the play. He may be one of the best athletes I’ve ever evaluated at tackle.
Fit with the Colts
Many may be wondering why we include a right tackle in our scouting report with Braden Smith looking like he could be the team’s long-term answer at the position. While it could be a little early to use a draft pick on a developmental tackle, the Colts would be wise to continue investing in the offensive line. Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo isn’t getting any younger and good offensive linemen are hard to find. Edwards would likely cost a second round pick but he has the athleticism to be a top tackle in the NFL in the future. The Colts could select a player like Edwards and avoid ever re-entering the offensive line purgatory they were in during Pagano’s tenure.
Each of these players would add something to the Colts. Edwards would be a solid developmental tackle behind Castonzo, who the Colts could groom to be a future starter. Hill is a feisty corner who could provide depth at a weak position. Harry is an aggressive playmaker at receiver who would instantly give Luck a reliable outlet on the outside. Burr-Kirven would give the team a valuable cover linebacker in sub packages.
What do you think of the players that Russell Brown chose for our scouting notebook? Who would you like to see in future Scouting Notebooks? Post in the comments below.