A source who chose to remain anonymous has reported that Colts defensive line coach Mike Phair is visiting with defensive line prospects Tomasi Laulile and Kesni Tausinga. Both prospects are projected to be late round or potential priority free agent pick-ups this weekend.
Laulile is an explosive, well-built defensive tackle who put himself back on the draft map with an impressive pro day workout that included a 4.83-second 40-yard dash (official time, but some scouts had faster times) at 301 pounds. Laulile’s issues with an on-field fight and an academic suspension could hurt his draft chances, but they might not kill them. He’s raw and his production certainly doesn’t stand out, but his potential as a penetrating defensive tackle with the athletic ability to finish plays gives him a solid shot at becoming a practice squad player while teams get a feel for him.
Running a 4.83 second 40-yard dash at over 300 pounds is extremely rare. This single trait certainly does not make a legitimate NFL prospect but it will definitely get some attention from scouts and coaches who are looking for diamonds in the rough. There also some listed strengths that certainly caught the eye of Chris Ballard, his scouting department, and Mike Phair — who have placed a particular emphasis on speed and quickness off of the snap for defensive lineman in Matt Eberflus’ new scheme.
From NFL.com’s strengths:
Impressive quick-twitch explosiveness off the snap. First two steps up the field are lightning quick
Feet stay active and hungry throughout the rep
Committed to his job of finding the football
Plus flexibility in hips and ankles allows for sharper cornering movements to the ball
Able to make blockers feel the power in his hands when he lands
Disengages from blocks with effective shedding or spin-outs
Above average pursuit speed to stress scrambling quarterbacks.
A pocket pushing and gap penetrating defensive tackle is just what the Colts are looking for and the Laulile’s traits certainly should give a coaching staff something to mold. There are big concerns that he will need to overcome to get an opportunity in the NFL, though, and legitimate reasons he is only a borderline late-round prospect.
From NFL.com’s weaknesses:
Suspended for part of the 2016 season due to a fight in his 2015 bowl game
Missed all of 2017 due to academic issues at BYU
Simply put, he has had trouble staying on the football field for more than one reason. The fight was years ago and could be overlooked by itself but missing all of 2017 due to academics is an entirely different red flag. There will be questions about whether his issue is mental or if he is lazy and couldn’t be bothered to put in the work to stay on the field.
Tausinga is a bit more of a long-shot as an NFL candidate. He is 6’1”, 300 lbs. and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.41. Don’t get me wrong, the 40-yard dash is not the measuring stick for determining whether a player is capable of making an impact at defensive tackle but he is undersized for the position, not particularly athletic given that 40-yard time, and currently ranked well outside of what would be considered a draft-worthy range.
What Tausinga can hope is that the attention he received from Mike Phair may have left an impression. If he took advantage of his opportunity and showed the kind of work ethic and technique that caught Phair’s eye, his name could make its way around the league and he could get a shot in training camp somewhere.