The 2020 NFL Draft season is finally upon us as the wild offseason of prospect events kicks off with the East-West Shrine game this weekend. Throughout this week, these selected players will be going through practices on front of NFL scouts in one last competitive effort to showcase their skills before the NFL Draft. While this game may not be as big as the Senior Bowl, Colts’ GM Chris Ballard has drafted a few players out of this game before (Jackson Barton, Daurice Fountain, and Nate Hairston).
Today, let’s take a look at a few players that you all should keep an eye out this week during these practices.
Tyler Huntley, Utah
Size: 6’1” 205 pounds
Senior Stats: 220-301 for 3,092 yards and 19 TDs with 4 interceptions
Fit with the Colts: The Colts obviously need a quarterback in this upcoming draft class. In the case that they strike out in the first couple rounds, they could fall back on a player like Huntley on day three. An athletic quarterback with a good arm, Huntley can be a solid spot starter in the NFL while being a steady backup on an NFL team. Very similar to Tyrod Taylor coming out of college with his style of play.
Utah QB Tyler Huntley!— Hans Olsen (@975Hans) November 5, 2019
Look where he places this pass. Throwing a WR open, throwing to a place only his guy can get to.
He's shut every doubter up.
So impressive. pic.twitter.com/9xyylOor6H
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
Size: 6’0” 215
Senior Stats: 106 carries for 498 yards and 4 touchdowns
Fit with the Colts: Nothing flashy about Dowdle but he is a perfect player to fill out an NFL running back group. He may not be the fastest or the strongest player but he is a do it all type of back who can run with some power, catch out of the back field, and— which RB Coach Tom Rathman will love— pass block in the backfield. In the eventual case that Jonathan Williams leaves in free agency, Dowdle could be a good late round/UDFA add to the team.
Binjimen Victor, Ohio State
Size: 6’4” 199 pounds
Senior Stats: 35 catches for 573 yards and 6 touchdowns
Fit with the Colts: Outside of Chris Ballard’s obvious love interest in Ohio State players, Victor should intrigue the Colts this offseason. He possesses great size and strength but also understands how to work the field vertically as a receiver. The Colts need some size in their receiver room and the Ohio State product may be a great fit in that regard.
Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida
Size: 6’5” 245 pounds
Senior Stats: 28 catches for 350 yards and 5 touchdowns
Fit with the Colts: With the likely departure of Eric Ebron this offseason in free agency, the Colts could need another tight end in this draft class. Wilcox isn’t near the athlete that Ebron is but he has good, strong hands and was very productive at a school that likes to run the football. He would be a solid day three tight end to plug in behind Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox next season.
Jared Hilbers, Washington
Size: 6’7” 316 pounds
Fit with the Colts: While Hilbers isn’t the most well known prospect in this loaded tackle class, there is one reason why the Colts may be interested in this towering offensive tackle; his connection with Chris Strausser. Strausser was Hilbers offensive line coach for two years at Washington before making the jump to the NFL himself. With this connection, Hilbers is already well versed in the uniquely aggressive blocking scheme the Colts run. He needs some work overall but having good size, athleticism, and experience in this scheme could make Hilbers a late round or UDFA target for the Colts in this draft class.
Interior Offensive Line
Brandon Bowen, Ohio State
Size: 6’7” 315 pounds
Fit with the Colts: Again ignoring the obvious connections Ballard has to Ohio State, Bowen would be good with the Colts. He has good size and plays with a ton of strength on the interior. He is a good run blocker who could learn better leverage in pass protection. While he may not be a starter for the Colts, he would be a nice developmental player on day three for the team. He also has that tackle/guard versatility that the Colts love.
Dobbins' patience and vision is extraordinary, but love Branden Bowen finishing his blocking completely blow open the hole. pic.twitter.com/Zwi3eCrJKt— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
Raequan Williams, Michigan State
Size: 6’4” 303 pounds
Senior Stats: 48 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble
Fit with the Colts: The Colts need a ton of help on the interior of their defensive line this offseason. Adding a player like Williams could be a good positive step. While he wasn’t super productive at Michigan State, he has the traits you look for in an interior defensive lineman. He is quick off the ball and very hard to move in the run game. He has the look and feel of a player who will be a better pro than college player as he develops more as a pass rusher.
A lot of likable stuff on film for Michigan State DT 99 Raequan Williams. Long and quick fit the NFL mold en vogue, and he brings plus power and a GREAT motor.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) July 10, 2019
Entire Michigan State DL is draftable next year, and he might be the best of the bunch. pic.twitter.com/PU4geLDjwS
Alex Highsmith, Charlotte
Size: 6’4” 242 pounds
Senior Stats: 75 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
Fit with the Colts: Chris Ballard has his type when it comes to defensive ends. He likes his ends to be explosive and quick off the edge while being very bendy and nuanced with their hands on the outside. That profile just screams Alex Highsmith as he was a true terror for Charlotte last season. Expect him to get a Senior Bowl call up later next week after he had a great few practices at the Shrine this year.
Charlotte senior EDGE Alex Highsmith (14 sacks on the year) has some serious juice as a pass rusher. Has a lot of moves in his toolbox. pic.twitter.com/o5joMJy5C9— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) December 16, 2019
Off Ball Linebacker
Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Size: 6’3” 230 pounds
Senior Stats: 96 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble
Fit with the Colts: While the Colts don’t need a linebacker in this class, I’d never put it past Chris Ballard to take one. Walker is a long and fast linebacker that fits everything that Ballard likes from this position. This past season he showed the ability to transition from a defensive end to linebacker and made the transition look seemless. He could be a very good special teamer in the NFL.
Nevelle Clarke, UCF
Size: 6’1” 187 pounds
Senior Stats: 22 tackles, 11 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown
Fit with the Colts: The Colts could stand to bolster their cornerback depth this offseason. Adding a player like Clarke to their zone scheme could be a very good fit. He has excellent zone eyes and footwork and has flashed as a playmaker in his time in college. He has flashed a ton at the Shrine practices and in the Colts’ zone heavy scheme, adding a corner with good reads and ball skills would be a good fit.
Nevelle Clarke on his interception vs Houston this year. “The quarterback threw the ball when I was waiting on a certain play, and I made a play on it.”— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 14, 2020
Yeah. Smart kid. Top of the screen. pic.twitter.com/y0Hrul1jF7
David Dowell, Michigan State
Size: 6’1” 210 pounds
Senior Stats: 55 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and 1 interception
Fit with the Colts: A long time starter with Michigan State, Dowell would be a good experienced presence to round out a safety group in the NFL. Colts already have a few athletic starters on the roster at safety. What they could use is another reliable tackler who is comfortable coming down into the box and making plays around the line of scrimmage much like his college teammate and current Colts’ player Khari Willis. Dowell would be a very good fourth safety and special teamer for the Colts.