The Colts signed eight undrafted free agents who will be competing for a spot in the trenches on the offensive line or at the tight end position. And although five of them come from well-known universities, some of these players are not very well known to the average fan.
Most surprising out of these signings is the number of tight ends added, considering the Colts only
lost Marcus Pollard and still have Dallas Clark, Ben Hartsock, Ben Utecht and
Bryan Fletcher on the roster. So let's start with that group as we introduce
you to these new faces.
ends: People rave about the Colts' tight ends, and there's lots of youth and
talent there, but with just unproven four candidates for four positions, new
blood was required. More important to the team as receivers than blockers, the
Colts look for tight ends who can catch.
Gregg Guenther, Southern Cal*
Workout numbers: 6065/255/4.87
Who is he: Can't find this guy in
your draft guide? That's because he was busy playing forward for the Trojans'
basketball team last season. After a few years as a backup tight end in which he
caught 24-206-3, he quit football to concentrate on hoops as a senior. On the
hardwood, he's considered a physical and resourceful player. That should help
him in football, but he has a long way to go, especially as a blocker and route
Where does he fit: The Colts are clearly taking the success of Marcus
Pollard and Antonio Gates very seriously. Guenther definitely has NFL skills,
but needs coaching and reps. He'll be given a legitimate chance to stick (at
least on the practice squad) and could help himself a lot by proving his
toughness on specials in camp and preseason.
Joey Hawkins, Texas Tech
stats: 7-89-0 REC
Workout numbers: 6085/245/4.82
Who is he: Not surprisingly,
the ridiculously tall and lanky Hawkins was another power forward before he
switched to football. Blessed with outstanding hands and decent speed, he's a
project worth developing. But he's as far from a finished product as you'll find
in college football. A tight end in name only, he was more of a king-sized wide
receiver the few times he took part in Texas Tech's high-powered offense and
knows almost nothing about blocking.
Where does he fit: The Colts, with dreams
of Hawkins plucking high passes out of the stratosphere above the end zone,
would love to stash him on the practice squad and bring him along slowly.
Tory Humphrey, Central Michigan
stats: 8-137-0 REC
Workout numbers: 6015/257/4.47
Who is he: If you look at
Humphrey on tape, you'll see a decent route runner with good release, nice hands
and great leaping ability. You'll also see a willing blocker who bends his
knees, stays low and shows good strength. Look at his workout numbers and you'll
see a top prospect. Then you'll look at his stats and realize that he hasn't
done much and at a small school. A real NFL prospect should dominate.
he fit: Without an outstanding camp, it will be hard for Humphrey to stick. The
Colts are betting that Humphreys' meager production was the Chippewas' fault.
His best shot at an NFL paycheck may be as a blocker as none of the Colts tight
ends other than Ben Hartsock do much in that area.
With both starters (Tarik Glenn and Ryan Diem) signed and two reserves (Makoa Freitas and Joaquin Gonzalez) who have started in the NFL, there's not a lot of
room on the roster for young tackles. Although he's still young, Glenn has a lot
of miles on his treads and less-than-perfect conditioning habits and a
replacement on the left side may prove necessary soon.
Lou Lombardo, Maryland
Who is he: This guy is a total sleeper. Nothing but a
weight-room star for years for the Terps, Lombardo lost a lot of fat before his
senior season and started at right tackle. He emerged as an active and
disciplined blocker, and excelled in the sort of trap-and-mirror stuff the Colts
use more than any other team. My favorite thing about Lombardo, though, is that
he gets downfield on running plays like a tight end and can lay a lick on the
Where does he fit: The large number of prospects at guard and center would
almost certainly prevent a move inside, so he'll have to prove himself at
tackle. He needs a lot of coaching, but could be a huge surprise. They may try
to stash him on the practice squad or convert him to short-yardage tight end.
Jason Russell, Central Arkansas
Who is he: A mobile left tackle who was the best player
on a team that bulled through Gulf South defenses for over 200 rushing yards a
game, Russell played guard at the Cactus Bowl and drew positive reviews. Scouts
got another look at him when he worked out at Ohio State's pro day (nobody
wanted to go to Central Arkansas) and did 28 reps. A tall kid with a good upper
body, he seems comfortable inside which could provide the Colts with another versatile lineman.
Where does he fit:
He'll need lots of
coaching to play at an NFL level, but he certainly has the potential.
and centers: The Colts like their guards and centers to be interchangable, so
they are basically the same position. After the Colts lost guard Steve McKinney
to free agency before the 2004 season, they tried to fill his spot with Steve Sciullo and Tupe Peko. But both players failed and are no longer with the team.
Undersized rookies Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja stepped in and played fairly well,
but appeared overmatched in the playoffs. Making matters worse, the Colts lost
Rick DeMulling, their best guard from 2004, to free agency this year. Scott and Lilja
will get first shots at the two available starting jobs, but will be
hard-pressed by draft picks Dylan Gandy and Rob Hunt. Despite this profusion of
young talent, the Colts want more competition at the position. Traditionally,
the team has preferred fast, athletic players on the o-line, but may be looking
for more strength after having a hard time running inside last year.
Cody Campbell, G, Texas Tech
Who is he: Another member of the Red Raiders' vaunted
offensive machine, Campbell is an explosive blocker with a solid upper body and
excellent hand use. He'll need to work on his footwork to provide a better base
in bull rushers, although he does slide well laterally.
Where does he fit:
Campbell is a legitimate center/guard prospect, but with Jeff Saturday, Scott,
Lilja, Marico Portis, Trevor Hutton and now Gandy and Hunt ahead of him, he may
have a hard time sticking.
Chart, G, Southern Utah*
Who is he: Chart is an all-out brawler with excellent
agility who was voted All-Great West twice. He played all five line positions
for the Thunderbirds and started at both guard spots.
Where does he fit:
Stranger things have happened than a guy like Chart beating the odds, but I
really think he's auditioning for some team's practice squad.
Matt Ulrich G Northwestern
Who is he: A quick and strong short-area blocker who
probably learned more by practicing against first-rounder Luis Castillo every
day than he did in any game. The critics say Ulrich doesn't block downfield
well, but put up surprising workout numbers and may be better than he appeared
in college. He looked good at the Gridiron Classic, but needs to learn to adjust
and finish his blocks better.
Where does he fit: Another project thrown into
Howard Mudd's inbox, Ulrich will have to show a lot in camp to force his way
onto the team.
"Who Are Those Guys?" Part Two
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