Who Are Those Guys?

Jerry Langton takes a look at the Colts' undrafted free agents who are attempting to make the team at the QB, RB, and WR positions.

As enviable as it is, the Colts' offense isn't perfect. The playoff loss in New England showed that the Colts can be stopped if outside running lanes are clogged and the team is forced to work for yards inside. Compounding that problem, Indianapolis lost its best guard, Rick DeMulling to the Lions in free agency. The draft yielded two solid guard/center prospects and a scatback, but spare parts are needed all over and the Colts are always looking to enhance their rep as the team who finds prospects other teams miss. Fourteen undrafted offensive players were invited to camp (players marked with an asterisk have yet to sign a contract) and any could end up on the roster in September.


Quarterbacks

Although Peyton Manning has missed just one snap due to injury since his entry to the NFL and Jim Sorgi appears to be an adequate and promising back-up, the Colts would be silly not to look at their options for a third man. If the ball were handed to Sorgi in earnest, his skinny frame would be in danger from snap one. Travis Brown has a big arm, but slow feet and Tom Arth is languishing on the bench in Europe, so there may be room for some competition. The pressures of keeping a kickoff specialist, lots of pass-rushers and defensive backs may prevent a spot for a No. 3 guy, but it makes sense to have someone who understands the offense a phone call away.

Sonny Cumbie, QB, Texas Tech*

2004 stats: 642-421-4742-32-18 PASS, 52-(-167)-2 RUSH Workout numbers: 6032/224/5.28

Who is he: A super-productive passer who benefited from playing in Texas Tech's flying circus offense, Cumbie follows Kliff Kingsbury and BJ Symons into the NFL. A former walk-on who is considered a below-average athlete, Cumbie doesn't have a big arm, but he does put nice zip on short passes. He needs improve his lateral movement in the pocket, but has a nice, compact release.

Where does he fit: Lots of people call Cumbie a product of the system and they're probably right, but he's a smart passer with confidence and could mount a challenge for the No. 3 spot especially if he can improve his ball security.

Reggie Robertson, QB, California*

2004 stats: 9-6-121-1-0 PASS, 2-5-1 RUSH, 1 TK, 1 AT Workout numbers: 6010/196/4.78

Who is he: Aaron Rodgers' backup in Cal's high-powered attack, Robertson didn't get much of a chance to play as a senior. But he did pull out a couple of games when Kyle Boller got hurt a few years ago and when Rodgers faltered later on. Robertson earned a reputation as a smart and courageous player and from all reports is a very impressive young man. A better athlete than many at his position, a lack of superior arm strength led to him passed over for Rodgers when Boller left.

Where does he fit: With his lack of stats and college playing time, it may be tempting to dismiss Robertson as a camp arm. But he's proven he can deliver as a relief pitcher and even No. 2 pick Ronnie Brown was a sub (although one with lots of playing time) at Auburn. The Colts aren't looking for a starter at the position or even a No. 2, but they could use an athletic scout-team guy who could develop.


Running backs

After the playoff loss, Bill Polian publicly admitted his desire to improve the running game, particularly in short yardage. He mused about a big back or even a hammering fullback, so with a draft rich in both, fans expected some new players. Instead, the Colts opted for a pinball rather than a bowling ball when they selected Warrick Dunn-clone Anthony Davis from Wisconsin.

Marcus Williams, RB, Maine

2004 stats: 218-1077-14 RUSH, 22-194-0 REC Workout numbers: 5095/226/4.47

Who is he: A big, strong runner, Williams put up huge stats for the Black Bears, leaving as their all-time leading rusher and touchdown scorer. A punishing force inside, he doesn't play to his workout numbers on plays to the outside and will have a hard time turning the corner in the NFL. Williams is a much better receiver than most small-school feature backs, showing good route-running and soft hands. When I saw him he wasn't asked to block much, and he'll never be a real fullback, but he could have some potential there. The son of two doctors, you better believe he's smart.

Where does he fit: With Edgerrin James, Dominic Rhodes, James Mungro, Ran Carthon and now Davis ahead of him, Williams has his work cut out for him. But he offers more size than any of them and could carve out a niche for himself as a short-yardage specialist.


Wide Receivers


With three 1,000-yard starters and a number of promising reserves returning, the Colts didn't draft a single wideout. But with size and durability questions plaguing a number of the holdovers, the Colts needed some options. And, since the Colts haven't scared anyone on punt returns since the turn of the century, open auditions will be held there.

DaVon Fowlkes, WR, Appalachian State

2004 stats: 103-1618-14 REC, 18-419-0 KR, 21-194-0 PR, 10-82-2 RUSH, 2-0-0-0-0 PASS, 2 TK Workout numbers: 5075/165/4.47

Who is he: A tiny man who can run with incredible vision and balance, Fowlkes put up immense numbers at Appalachian State, a small school that has sent a surprising number of players to the pros. A naturally elusive stutter-stepper with no recognizable fear, Fowlkes' hands, toughness and athleticism may help him convince coaches that man his size can play in the pros.

Where does he fit: With a strong camp, Fowlkes could force his way into a punt return job and even get a few reps at slot receiver.

Levon Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

2004 stats: 26-574-0 KR, 32-489-3 REC, 2-25-0 RUSH Workout numbers: 6000/195/4.55

Who is he: The No. 2 receiver and primary kick returner at Georgia Tech, Thomas showed some elusiveness and tougness. He has superior hands and knows the game well, but takes a step too long to reach maximum speed and has trouble beating jams off the line.

Where does he fit: Thrown into the fray at wide receiver and given at least a shot at kick returner (he's too much of a long-strider to run back punts), Thomas will need a big camp to stick.

Kerry Wright, WR, Middle Tennessee State

2004 stats: 76-1048-11 REC, 17-183-1 PR, 4-13-0 RUSH, 1 TK Workout numbers: 5085/180/4.41

Who is he: Another insanely productive small-school guy, Wright does all the little things right. The Sunbelt's most feared player, he makes all the catches, his routes are sharp enough to cut diamonds and he keeps his body hard to get a good hit on. But the NFL frowns on short and thin and Wright is both.

Where does he fit: The Colts are much more likely than other teams to overlook a guy's lack of height and give him a shot. He'll head to camp as a top contender for the troublesome punt return spot and could get a few reps as a slot receiver as well.


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