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Scouting Notebook: Potential first round players to watch

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Who are some first round defenders the Colts could target in 2019?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are at the halfway point of the 2018 season, sitting at 3-5. Although the season hasn’t gone quite according to plan, there are plenty of positives to look at midway through the year. The offense is clicking on all cylinders of late, led by stellar play by Andrew Luck and a dominant run game led by Marlon Mack. The offense seems to be fairly complete besides some depth offensive lineman and a couple of receivers.

The main focus of the Colts in the first round needs to be defense. The Colts’ defense this year has been as good as they could be, forcing a turnover in every game this season. They force a lot of turnovers and hold teams to field goals, but they have been way too leaky at times. The 2019 NFL Draft is loaded with defensive talent, as some analyst are saying that they may have no offensive players with first round grades.

For this week’s Scouting Notebook, I’m going to take a look at the top defenders the Colts should look at in the first round of the 2019 Draft. I don’t have a guest analyst this week, so as a result I will be giving you guys another quick 7-round Colts mock draft. So without further ado, lets jump into this week’s Scouting Notebook.


Josh Allen, Edge Rusher/ OLB (6’5” 260)

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Background

No player in today’s notebook has enjoyed as big a rise as Josh Allen. Allen, a former high school receiver, has been absolutely dominant for Kentucky this season. After playing limited time his freshman year, Allen has exploded to lead the defense the last few years. For his career, Allen has 188 total tackles, 35 tackles for a loss, 24.5 sacks, and 11 forced fumbles.

Analysis

Allen is very unique from the traditional pass rusher. As a former high school receiver, Allen is a natural athlete with excellent feet for a player his size. When rushing the passer, he has developed each and every year. He has refined his hand usage a lot and dips his shoulder very effectively when turning the corner. His awareness and instincts in coverage are also very underrated as well. Very well rounded player with upside as a pass rusher. Very similar player to Hassan Reddick of a few years back.

Film Room

Super underrated aspect of his game. He is an excellent pass defender. Has a very natural feel in coverage and plays the ball very well in the air. I really like him in off coverage.

Fills the cutback lane really well here and comes downhill very fast. The speed off the edge is how Allen wins most of his reps in the run game and the pass game.

Just way too quick off the line here for the offensive tackle. The slight dip of the shoulder to get the final bit of separation is impressive as well.

Fit with the Colts

Allen is a bit of an odd fit with the Colts, but I think that Matt Eberflus would have fun with the versatility that he would bring. The Colts rarely use a SAM linebacker but when they do, Allen could fill that role perfectly. His ability in coverage and as a run stuffing linebacker would lead to him playing very well in that role. On passing situations, Allen could put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer just like how he is dominating college football this season. Overall, I think that Allen offers a lot of scheme versatility and pass rushing ability to this Colts’ defense and would be a very interesting first round pick for the team.


Brian Burns, Edge Rusher (6’5” 235)

NCAA Football: Samford at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Burns has all the ability to succeed in the NFL. The former five star prospect has turned the heads of many draft analysts with his strong play the last two seasons. A natural sack artist since arriving at Florida State, Burns has quietly developed his entire game since his freshman season. For his career, Burns has 99 tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks, and 7 forced fumbles.

Analysis

Burns has the length and athleticism to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. His initial burst off the line is lightning fast and he creates so much separation from offensive lineman with his length. His pass rush savvy is fully on display with the variety of moves he is able to pull off each and every game. His bend and rip moves are among the best in college football. Its hard not seeing a top flight pass rusher when watching Burns play.

Film Room

Nasty spin move here by Burns. He sets up the left tackle by planting hard outside then coming back quickly with the spin. The quickness of the move will translate in the NFL against tougher competition.

The length is just unfair. A quick jab and swipe then he is able to duck under the offensive lineman for the sack. He turns the corner with such fluidity here as well.

He wins with pure quickness and bend on this rep. Burns swats the hands of the lineman to start the play which throws Burns off balance. He has created so much separation by that point though that he is able to recover and get the sack. Great play to force the fumble too.

Fit with the Colts

Burns would immediately step in as a sub pass rusher for the Colts. He may not have the size immediately to start on the defensive line but his ability to get to the passer cannot be ignored. A defensive line rotation of Kemoko Turay and Brian Burns at defensive end would be one of the more athletic pass rushing duos in the entire NFL. The Colts could always use more athletic, young pass rushers and Burns has every bit the ability to be a star in the NFL.


Devin White, LB (6’1” 240)

NCAA Football: Georgia at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Background

White’s road to college football stardom has been a rocky one. White had multiple run ins with the law in high school but none of those arrests effected his ability to sign on with LSU. Since joining the LSU Tigers, White has kept clean and led a ferocious defense the last few seasons. For his career, White has tallied 239 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles.

Analysis

White is a special animal at linebacker. He is excellent in space and swallows up running backs in the open field. Low, stocky build allows for him to maintain leverage against bigger offensive lineman. His instincts are top notch as he is excellent at diagnosing a run and strafing himself into position. In zone coverage, he gets excellent depth on his zone drops and is great at reading the quarterback’s eyes. He is a plus blitzer too as his burst and quickness allow him to shoot gaps for easy sacks.

Film Room

This is where he dominates. He excels at strafing the line, reading the play, and shooting the gap to make a play. The ability to weave through traffic and make tackles in the run game leads me to believe that he will be a tackling machine in the NFL.

Looks like Darius Leonard a bit doesn’t it? White’s quickness and burst allows for him to get up the gut before the lineman can even react. A big sack is the result.

Great zone eyes here by White. He gets good initial depth and then reads Franks all the way. Excellent break on the ball to get the pass deflection.

Fit with the Colts

The potential duo of Darius Leonard and Devin White would be absolutely devastating for other teams around the NFL. White would compliment Leonard so well and they would be the perfect one-two punch. With a player like White commanding the middle of the field, it would open up Leonard to pin his ears back more and get after the ball and be more aggressive. Adding White to this defense would not only give the team an elite signal caller, but it would also open up Leonard to play way more downhill and aggressive.


Colts Mock Draft 2.0

So I decided to throw in another mock draft into a Scouting Notebook as last time I did this, the response to it went very well. I just again would like to add that I use Fanspeak.com for my mock drafts and they have the Colts currently picking 9th in the first round. I try to keep these mocks as realistic as possible when drafting.

Round 1: Devin White, LB, LSU

Star potential linebacker who can command the defense. Elite run defender with great zone coverage ability.

Round 2: Gerald Willis, DL, Miami

Interior pass rusher who has flashed a ton this season. Slips to round two due to worries that he is a one year wonder type player.

Round 2 (Jets): Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State

Physical receiver who excels with body control and contested catches. Would be Andrew Luck’s best friend in the Colts’ offense.

Round 3: Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan

Fiesty corner with very good ball skills. Ballard falls in love with his style of play.

Round 4: Juan Thornhill, CB/S, UVA

Player who has excelled at corner and safety at UVA. Could be a rotational depth piece at both positions or a starter at safety depending on what team does with Clayton Geathers.

Round 4 (comp pick): Cece Jefferson, Edge, Florida

Pass rusher who has flashed big time potential. Developmental guy who can sit behind Turay and Sheard.

Round 5: Daniel Cooney, OT, San Diego

Huge, athletic tackle who can develop behind Anthony Castonzo for a couple years.

Round 6: Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson

Nuanced route runner with excellent hands. Always comes up big in the biggest situations. Underneath target and core special teamer.

Round 7: Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh

HB who can play multiple positions. Power back who completes the running back committee.


Final Thoughts

The Colts still have a lot of needs despite the improvements they’ve made from last year. With a ton of players still needed on defense, the 2019 Draft appears to be a good place to address that. With guys like Devin White, Josh Allen, and Brian Burns, the Colts will be in prime position to add a dynamic playmaker to the team.

This was the 7th Scouting Notebook of the year which means we’ve covered 26 total prospects in these notebooks. If there is anybody that I have yet to discuss in a notebook, leave a comment below on who you want to see featured in next week’s notebook.