The Ones That Got Away

While fans eagerly awaited the NFL Draft and the subsequent free agent signings, NFL teams were allowed to bring in up to 20 players for personal visits. So what happened to the players that visited Indianapolis this year? You may be surprised by what we learned.

According to the Tony Pauline at TFY Draft Preview, the Colts hosted just six players for visits during the offseason leading up to the draft. Although each club is permitted to bring in up to 20 players, they can't conduct a personal workout during the visit.

While some teams -- like the Chiefs for example -- bring in 20 players, some teams obviously see less value in the personal meetings. At least this past year, the Colts certainly didn't waste much time with them.

But there had to be some special interest in the six that made the trip, so let's take a look at what happened to that Indy-bound half-dozen, and how the Philadelphia Eagles may have been paying attention to Indianapolis' short list.

Rich Demers/FB/Massachusetts

Demers is a hard-nosed, short-yardage runner who no doubt got a glance after the Colts expressed concern over being able to successfully get that last yard or two in a 3rd-and-short or goal-line situation. Demers had a terrific season his junior year both rushing (664 yards, 5 TDs) and receiving (222 yards, 5 TDs). But his role diminished in his senior season and he posted a mere 290 yards from scrimmage combined.

Where he landed: Cincinnati, undrafted free agent, 2-year contract.

Jon Goldsberry/FB/Purdue

Yes, another fullback. But Goldsberry was a linebacker for three years at Purdue. Remember the Colts' draft day themes of versatility and improving their special teams? Goldsberry is a poster child for those themes. To realize his value on special teams, just consider that he was named "Best Special Teams Kamikaze" in the Big Ten by the Sporting News. Is there any more catchy title than that for a special teams player? Pair that up with him being an Academic All-Big Ten and recipient of a leadership award, and he sounds like a guy the Colts should have inked.

Unfortunately, plenty of clubs called him after the draft as they new he was a guy with a great attitude and work ethic. "I realize I wasn't the best, strongest or fastest," he said. "But [I knew] if I went out there and smacked around on people long enough they would quit and I could outlast them mentally." This is one that the Colts should not have let slip away.

Where he landed: Buffalo, undrafted free agent, after being offered a healthy $20,000 signing bonus -- almost the same amount typically given a 7th-round pick. The Colts had only budgeted $85,000 for signing bonuses for their entire group of undrafted free agents, roughly half of what they spent the year prior. They just weren't convinced the talent level in the undrafted ranks were significantly different to warrant sizeable bonuses. As a result, here's a guy they lost.

Matt McCoy/LB/San Diego St.

McCoy led his team in tackles during his sophomore and junior years, and only slipped to second place in his senior year. He's got the ability to be a starter as an outside linebacker...and soon. He was snagged a bit higher than expected by many draft pundits, so the Colts might have been caught by surprise, assuming they could move up in the third round to have a shot at him or even have him fall in their lap late in the third. But three picks after they selected CB Kelvin Hayden with their 2nd-round pick, he came off the board. One of the other teams that also hosted McCoy didn't gamble.

Where he landed: Philadelphia, 2nd-round pick, #63 overall.

Todd Herremans/OT/Saginaw Valley State

While the Colts may have watched with astonishment as the Eagles snagged McCoy early, they had to be even more stunned when they saw what happened in regards to Herremans.

If for no other reason, the Colts probably wanted a face-to-face interview with Herremans just to verify that he was truly as huge as he looked on paper and on film. The gargantuan 6'6, 321-pound offensive tackle has great width and wingspan. As you can well imagine, defenses don't get by him easily when attempting to blitz the quarterback whether he's playing left or right tackle. The only big knock on him was his balance -- and his footwork to a lesser degree -- but with Howard Mudd instructing, that wouldn't have been a problem for long.

And guess what? This may have been a guy that the Eagles purposely snatched from the Colts. They made a trade with the Packers to grab their spot -- just three picks before the Colts -- and used it to grab Herremans. Who did the Colts select three picks later? An offensive lineman -- Dylan Gandy out of Texas Tech. Makes you wonder Gandy or Herremans would be wearing the 'Shoe today if the Eagles hadn't jumped up to make that trade. Oh, and for the record, Herremans didn't visit Philly.

Where he landed: Philadelphia, 4th-round pick, #126 overall.

Shirdonya Mitchell/CB/Missouri

Mitchell had been projected as high as a 4th-rounder until he injured his knee and tore both his ACL and LCL during his Pro Day workout. A converted wide receiver, Mitchell had the added versatility of being a kick returner at Missouri. If he recovers fully, he is a speedy back who provides solid coverage, especially against the deep pass. But at best, he'll be practicing again at the end of August. More likely, he'll spend this year on injured reserve.

Where he landed: Miami, undrafted free agent, 2-year contract.

Reynaldo Hill/CB/Florida

Hill does a nice job in man-to-man situations, but didn't have the reputation as a real physical corner like the types of players the Colts brought in through this draft in the secondary. But he was one of the best cover corners in the SEC last year. But with the Colts' focus on run-support, the interest in Hill was a bit puzzling.

Where he landed: Tennessee, 7th-round draft pick.

Out of the players above, it appears that at least three may have gotten away from the Colts -- two by the way the Eagles worked the board, and one -- Goldsberry -- by being outbid in the post-draft rush of free agents.

So we're left wondering whether the Colts would have picked Matt McCoy instead of DT "Sweet Pea" Burns in the third round if he was still on the board. Remember that the Colts were also accused of reaching a bit when they selected Burns.

And we're left wondering if their jaws dropped when they watched the Eagles slide in front of them when they were just three picks away from being able to pick Herremans in the 4th. Or would they have picked Gandy anyway figuring Herremans would be around later in the draft as some draft gurus expected?

We may never get a straight answer on those questions. But it certainly demonstrates that visits to a team don't always translate into even one player being signed.

And it also shows that the Eagles might be watching the Colts a little closer than some folks might have imagined.

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