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Colts Prospect Interviews: USC Safety Marvell Tell III

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts prospect interviews are finishing up as this is the final interview of the draft season before the NFL Draft later today. Today’s player interview is USC Safety Marvell Tell III. The Colts could use another safety on the back end with Malik Hooker and Tell could be that player.

The interview will be towards the bottom of the page, as he interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about the jump he made in play during his final two seasons, his versatility as a defensive back, and his meetings with the Colts.



6’2” 198 pounds


40 Time: 4.57 / 10-yard split: 1.60 / Bench Reps: 8 Reps / Vertical Jump: 42 inches / Broad Jump: 136 inches / 3-Cone: 6.63 seconds

Career Stats:

220 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 13 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble in his career.

Round Projection:

Rounds 4-5

Fit with the Colts:

The Colts need a young safety to pair with Malik Hooker going forward, and Tell could very well be that player. He is a versatile and athletic player whose best football is certainly ahead of him in the league. Adding Tell to the defensive backfield would not only add a potential fit at safety, but also a potential developmental corner with his ability and upside in coverage. He may not be a finished project just yet, but with some work on his game, he could be a solid player in Indianapolis.

Film Room:

Tell’s athleticism and quickness pop on film immediately. He has great upside to be a good safety or corner in the NFL with his intangibles.

Tell is very capable coming downhill, and even blitzing in some packages. His best fit is certainly in a role that allows him to fly downfield.

Tell has great ability in coverage, too, which makes him intriguing as a cornerback convert. He has the versatility to perform well at multiple positions in the NFL.


ZH: You made a big jump in play from your Sophomore year to your last two seasons at USC. What was the key to that improved play?

MT: I just became a student of the game. I learned how to watch film, I started meeting with my coaches outside of mandatory times, and I just really bought into the defense and understood my role and the roles of others around me.

ZH: Overall, how would you summarize your time at USC?

MT: Oh man.. In a couple words? That’s tough man. Amazing, to start off with. I feel like they prepared us very well for life after school at USC both on and off of the field. I played with a bunch of great guys who are in the league now. It was really a growth period for me. You start out, and it’s like being in high school again. You are like a high school freshman being at the bottom of the totem pole again. You work your way up, you gotta fight through adversity and win your battles, and I definitely grew as both a person and a player throughout those four years.

ZH: You were invited to the Combine after a good career at USC. How was that experience for you both on the field and in the interviews?

MT: It was great, but it was a lot more than I anticipated. Growing up you just see the field drills but nobody else sees what goes on in those previous days, because the field drills are on the last day. You are meeting with teams, going through medical exams and psychological exams... It’s a lot. They put a lot on you before that last day, but it was a great experience. I didn’t complain about it at all, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m glad I got to take advantage.

ZH: You played all over USC’s defense the last few years. Where would you say is the best fit for you position wise in the NFL?

MT: Like you said man, I played everywhere. I have the most experience as a down safety, but as I got to touch other positions on the field, I feel like that might not even be my best spot moving forward. I feel like that if I get taught to be a corner, I could be a great corner. If I’m taught as a free safety, I could be a great free safety. I don’t know man, I have no clue. I just want to play ball and remain versatile, so I’m more than willing to play whatever.

ZH: Yeah and that actually leads to my next question. With your athleticism and length, some have mentioned moving you to corner. Would you be comfortable making that move?

MT: Definitely. I’m a quick learner and I played corner in high school so I’m not completely foreign to it. If I can just get to training and work on that craft, I can perfect it.

ZH: Since you did play safety, though, I’d like to ask you this question: What is the most important trait a safety can possess in your opinion?

MT: Great eyes and to be able to see the whole field. I believe that, and being able to run, are the most important traits.

ZH: Who do you model your game after/compare yourself to in the NFL?

MT: It’s hard to say who I model myself after. Guys I watch film of though are definitely Earl Thomas— I love his motor— and Harrison Smith because he played in a similar defense to us at USC so I’ve watched a ton of him to see what he sees and how he moves in zone coverages. My favorite safety of all time is Sean Taylor, that’s the GOAT right there.

ZH: You’ve met with the Colts multiple times throughout this process. How have those meetings gone for you?

MT: They’ve gone really well. No complaints at all. I’m just trying to prove myself in these meetings and show that I’m a great player on the field and also on the board.

ZH: The Colts need a strong safety to pair with the rangy Malik Hooker. Do you think you could step in and be that guy?

MT: No doubt, definitely. We’d be good together.

ZH: Last question for you. What is my team getting on and off the field if they spend a draft pick on you? What separates you in this class?

MT: They are getting someone who is accountable, intelligent, fast, and passionate about the game of football.