The Indianapolis Colts have spent a lot on the defensive end position in Chris Ballard’s tenure as General Manager. In free agency, he has signed veterans Jabaal Sheard and Justin Houston to solidify the outside in recent years and the aging duo has performed fairly well as a result. In the draft, he has spent two second round picks on defensive ends in Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu. While they have been a bit inconsistent in their young careers, both Turay and Banogu have shown the potential to be the future at defensive end for this Colts team.
In today’s film room, we will be looking at some clips that show the upside of these two pass rushers and see exactly why the long term outlook for them is so positive.
Turay was selected 52nd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Colts. He had a bit of an up and down rookie season as he was able to flash his potential but ultimately lost playing time down the stretch due to his poor run defense. That all seemed to change in 2019 as Turay looked like a superstar in the first five weeks.
Playing in just four games, Turay racked up two sacks and a forced fumble. He was also second in the NFL through those first five weeks with a pressure percentage of 13.1%, trailing only star rookie Nick Bosa. Unfortunately, his season was cut short with a broken ankle suffered on the final play of the game in week five.
Turay was absolutely dominant in week one against the Chargers as he made his presence felt all game long. Working on the right side of the screen, he is very patient with his rush. He works to the outside and waits to attack once the left tackle overextends on the play. Once the tackle loses leverage and extends out, Turay quickly swats away his hands and bends the corner for the sack. He is also able to knock the ball away for a fumble, completing the excellent rush. While this play didn’t count due to a defensive penalty, it was a great opening rush from Turay to start the year.
Turay worked a lot on his strength in the off-season and it shows on film. He starts with a bull rush on the outside and again is able to knock the tackle off balance. Once he has established position where he wants it, he quickly swats away the tackle’s hands and bends around the corner to close in on the quarterback. While QB Philip Rivers does step up in the pocket well, Turay does an excellent job of continuing to track the play and locating the ball to force the fumble from behind the play. Yet another excellent rush from the young pass rusher.
Turay has a quick twitch and suddenness to his game that very few players possess. He starts on the outside on this rush but is able to quickly beat the left tackle to the interior with his explosiveness off of the line. He then is able to swat the tackle’s hands away and bend back to the quarterback to ensure the quickest path possible. He nearly gets home for the sack on the play, as he is able to get the pressure and force the incomplete pass.
This last clip is so great, yet so sad for many reasons. Turay executes a perfectly timed spin move that he does to perfection as he drops the left tackle to the ground. He then locates the quarterback and tracks him down for a sack on the play. This is a perfect example of development in Turay’s game as the spin move was a move he was working on last year and it is great to see it finally pay off in a timely sack. Unfortunately, on this play he broke his ankle and ended his season. Such a great play that ends an incredible start to the season for the young pass rusher.
Banogu was drafted with the 49th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was a bit of a project out of TCU but was forced into playing time early with the Colts due to the injury to Kemoko Turay. While he has been inconsistent at times, he has flashed some outstanding ability on the field. He also showcases outstanding athleticism and hustle on every play which are the main reasons for his production on the year. Here is how he ranks up against some other rookies in his draft class (as of 11/26):
In sack % (per defensive snaps played) @benbanogu ranks #1 with 2.5%— Brett Yarris (@MVMTbx_Coach) November 25, 2019
In TFL %, Ben ranks #2 (behind Bosa)
In QB hit %, Ben ranks #1.
Ben has been as efficient and productive as any player per snap. He's a good one folks. #Colts@Colts
Banogu said in an interview with Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle this past draft season that they rarely taught technique at TCU so he had to rely on teaching himself. When you watch his film, it is pretty evident that he is still developing as a pass rusher. Where a lot of his pressure and production has come from, however, is through effort and athleticism. He gets a ton of “effort sacks” and pressures due to never giving up on the play. Here, he starts upfield but quickly reverses field when the quarterback steps up in the pocket. He showcases great closing speed as he crushes Joe Flacco from behind to get the game ending sack and fumble.
Here is another one of those effort sacks where Banogu is able to redirect and get the sack. He works up the outside and gets good depth in the pocket. He gets his head up and notices the quarterback begin to bail, so he redirects. He shows good acceleration coming back to the football as he is able to bring down Deshaun Watson for the sack on the play. Good rush and effort to track down Watson for the sack.
While he is still raw and needs more refinement, the flashes as a pure pass rusher have been there. Here, he works from the wide nine position as he explodes out of his stance. He gets a good initial push on the right tackle as he knocks him back off balance. Once Banogu has the position on the tackle, he dips under to the outside and rips underneath the outside shoulder en route to the quarterback. While the right tackle is able to just push Banogu away as the quarterback releases the ball, this is still a good rush the quarterback had to have felt on the backside. The next step for Banogu is building off these rushes and finishing plays next season.
When he puts those flashes together, the result is a thing of beauty. Again operating from the wide nine position, he works down hill quickly on the play. He quickly disengages the right tackle with a quick move to the outside as he bends the corner, rips the outside shoulder and flattens his arc for the sack. This is an excellent rep that we will likely see more of from Banogu in the future once he develops a bit more. This is a flash of what he can be for this team long term though and that has to excite the fanbase.
The Colts have two very talented pass rushers on their hands who could be stars in the near future. Both are fairly high draft picks who both tested as elite athletes coming out of college. The path for both of these players becoming legitimate pass rushers for this team isn’t too far-fetched.
For Turay, it’s all about recovery from his devastating injury. He was in the midst of a breakout campaign and was looking every bit like a star pass rusher. As long as he can recover well from his ankle injury and maintain his twitchy, quick movements, he should be well on his way to stardom.
For Banogu, it is just refining that technique and building on it for year two. We saw the massive jump that Turay took from year one to year two so it is very feasible to see the same type of jump from Banogu. With his work ethic and athleticism, he should be a much more consistent force in this league in 2020.
Overall, Chris Ballard has done an impressive job with these two draft picks. Both are well on their way to being the future of the Colts’ defensive end position.