Hagler: Linebacker or Safety in Indy?

With their last pick in the fifth round, the Colts made another selection of a player who could be billed as a "tweener." But this time it's a linebacker who could end up as a safety.

With their third pick in the fifth round, the Indianapolis Colts selected Cincinnati's Tyjaun Hagler, a 5'11, 236-pound outside LB.

But as with a couple of the other picks in this draft, Hagler's not necessarily going to wind up at the position he played during his senior year. Despite being billed as an OLB by practically every draft source, ColtPower's John Cimasko reviewed the bio sheet that the Colts distributed in their media room. That sheet listed Hagler as an OLB/SS. 

Hagler, as is the case with practically every defensive draft pick this year by the Colts, is best-known for his run defense. He has a real nose for the ball on rushing plays, and led his team in tackles last year with 82, two less than he posted in his junior year. Many draft pundits projected that Hagler would be selected by a team that could use him in a 3-4 defense. He's got the athletic build and strength to work around would-be blockers and hit gaps with great quickness. A smart player, he knows how to use the angles to his advantage and has great lateral movement to the sidelines.

But Hagler does not have extraordinary pass coverage skills, which makes it all the more peculiar that the Colts would list him as a SS in addition to his core position. While he hits like a strong safety, he will need a lot of work to be capable of covering NFL-caliber wide receivers. His one advantage at safety is that most of the action would be developing in front of him giving him time to adjust to the receiver's routes. At linebacker, he too often got caught not dropping back quickly enough to prevent a completion.

One thing's for sure, Hagler is yet another Colts rookie who could have an impact on special teams. They could easily have four rookies on the field -- Jackson, Hayden, Giordano and Hagler -- especially on kickoffs and punts.

Hagler's a bit of a long shot, unless the Colts see some natural ability that they think they can develop into a backup safety. He's practically the same height and weight as Gary Brackett, who is a reliable player, but has not been able to break into the starting lineup of a fairly mediocre linebacker corps.

TFY's Take: An undersized linebacker, Hagler is a tenacious defender who flies around the ball and is productive on special teams. Has ability on the weak side but must improve his ability in coverage to be anything other than a backup in the NFL.

Brent Foshee of ColtPower Says: Hagler, at this point, is strictly a two down defender in the NFL if the Colts try to keep him at LB. His coverage skills are questionable. While he has size limitations, his tenaciousness on special teams may be enough to earn him a roster spot, or at least a spot on the practice squad while he develops.


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