Breaking Down the Most Important Pro Days for the Indianapolis Colts
NFL prospect pro days are, by and large, overrated. They simply don't matter nearly as much to evaluations as other parts of the process. The scripted workouts are designed to keep a prospect as comfortable as possible.
Young AFC scout I met today at Bortles pro day: "The pro day is 1% of the evaluation. Any more than that and you're doing it wrong."— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) March 19, 2014
That's not to say they don't have value. Teams can send scouts to pro days to put prospects through individual workouts as well as interviews with team officials. The Indianapolis Colts worked out Bjoern Werner last year and were impressed with the Florida State defensive end in person, leading to his selection at No. 24 overall.
So, when looking at upcoming pro days, I look at players who fit the Colts' profile as potential draftees as well as players who may have questions after the combine. As a result, here are a few players that should have the attention, or already do, of the Colts at their pro days.
C Marcus Martin, USC
Though I personally would rather avoid taking an interior lineman early, the Colts have a hole at center that they must address before the season, and a top center in the 2014 draft may just do that.
So, it should be no surprise that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was at the USC pro day last week to watch center Marcus Martin. Martin ranks as Mike Mayock's No. 1 center in the 2014 draft and is the best option in this year's class to come in and start right away, a must if the Colts want to draft a center.
Martin has started 35 games in three years at USC, both at guard and center. With versatility to help throughout the line and athleticism to fit in Pep Hamilton's pull-heavy blocking schemes, Martin may be just the piece the Colts are looking for to solidify the line.
Martin has plenty of talent that he doesn't necessarily use to its full potential, according to NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki, so his impression on Pagano at his pro day could have a huge impact on his potential landing spot in Indianapolis.
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
The former Penn State wide receiver had a disappointing combine, dropping passes in drills and running a slow 4.60-second 40-yard dash. Robinson had some questions about his ability to consistently separate prior to the combine, and his combine performance didn't do anything to answer those questions.
Robinson's size—6'2", 220 pounds—and his ability to catch balls in traffic make him a potential starter as a possession receiver, but he'll need to show more explosiveness to be a true No. 1.
During the Penn State pro day on April 8, watch for Robinson to improve upon his 40 time and illustrate the focus in pass-catching drills that he lacked during the combine.
Linebackers from Louisville
According to Walter Football, the Colts met with Louisville linebackers Marcus Smith and Preston Brown at the Louisville pro day.
Smith is a hybrid OLB/DE prospect who would fill the rush outside linebacker in the Colts' scheme. Although a bit limited in his pass-rushing moves, Smith is a sound tackler with quick instincts and active hands. He should be available in the second or third round.
Brown is a linebacker with experience at the Mike spot who could be a weapon in run defense. But Brown seems to be a late-round pick and depth at the position at best right now. He may evolve into more than that, but for now, Brown would be a strong depth choice in a unit that needs run-stoppers.
WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer has all the elements of an NFL possession receiver. Latimer has the size—6'2", 215 pounds—and catch radius to physically beat just about any cornerback in a small space. Latimer has adequate quickness and speed to get separation and limited yards after the catch, but he's not elite in either category.
Fortunately, the Colts don't need him to be an elite downfield threat. They need a future replacement for Reggie Wayne, and Latimer fits that profile.
But he needs to continue to show focus and sharpness in route-running to convince NFL teams he's worth a third-round pick. On Indiana's pro day on March 26, watch for Latimer to connect with Colts coaches personally if he wants a shot to stay in-state.
S Jimmie Ward, NIU
With a gaping hole at safety after Antoine Bethea left in free agency, the Colts may look to the early rounds of the draft. The best fit that has a realistic chance of being there in the second round is NIU safety Jimmie Ward.
Physically, Ward has all the fluidity and quickness necessary to play either safety spot. He's a solid man-coverage corner, making him a solid dime or nickel defensive back option right away. But he doesn't have much experience in single-high zone coverages, so his fit as a pure free safety is in question.
Ward ran a blazing 4.45-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, impressing Colts defensive back coaches in attendance, according to Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Wiederer. The Colts coaches spoke with Ward after the workout, and the team should be looking at him in the second round, even as a potential trade target.
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
The Colts seem hell-bent on drafting a linebacker in this year's draft, and Skov is one of this year's best run-stopping Mike linebackers. The senior from Stanford has great instincts attacking the line, and his physical play is reminiscent of great NFL Mike linebackers like Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher.
Skov didn't do himself any favors by not participating in the combine drills in February. Skov has a history of knee injuries that may be a slight concern for NFL teams, and a strong 40 time or three-cone drill could go a long way in putting some of those concerns to rest.
The Colts will almost be sure to visit the best run defender in this year's draft.
Arizona State Defenders
Whether it's DT Will Sutton or OLB Carl Bradford, the Sun Devils had a couple high-profile defenders that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano could have been there to see a few weeks ago.
Bradford was the real draw, a pass-rusher who a lot of people are comparing to Baltimore's Terrell Suggs, Gil Brandt said. Suggs was instrumental to Pagano's defense in Baltimore, and Pagano may be ecstatic about finding a new Suggs in this year's draft.
Sutton continues his free-fall at defensive tackle, with Brandt calling him a day-three candidate at best after his so-so workout.