While some draft experts and many Colts fans were surprised when the Colts used their third-round selection on San Diego State middle linebacker Freddie Keaiho, there was at least one person who wasn't the least bit taken back by the news. Frank Bauer, Keaiho's agent at Sun West Sports, knew that a Cover 2 defense team like the Colts, Bears, Lions or Buccaneers would be calling his client's name by the third or fourth round.
"You look at how teams like the Colts use their 'backers in the Cover 2, and he's a perfect match for them," he recently told ColtPower during an interview. "You hear it all the time that clubs love players, and then go another direction. But I had a good feeling that one of those teams were going to end up taking Freddie."
Bauer, who has experience as a defensive coordinator, told us that Keiaho has great instincts on the football field. And he knows people will be impressed by how Keiaho runs sideline to sideline displaying exceptional tackling technique. But one of the other factors that clearly played a role in the Colts interest is who Keiaho is as a person off the field.
"He's a really good student and a high character guy. He just fit's Tony Dungy's mold," Bauer explained.
Keiaho has been on the Colts radar for quite some time, but the team started to show real interest in him when they invited him to participate in a formal interview during the NFL Combine at the end of February. And then Bauer went down to Orlando for the 2006 NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando and bumped into the Colts head coach and they started talking about Keiaho.
"He said, 'Boy, I love this kid, Frank,' " Bauer recalled. "He liked him in the interview process at the Combine, loved what he had to say and could tell that he knew football -- and cared about football. That's Freddie's focus."
The Colts had also checked out Keiaho at his team's Pro Day and held a personal workout with him. And they flew him in to Indianapolis for a pre-draft visit.
"They put him up at the board, listened to him to see how much knowledge he has about football. And I think that really helped Fred," Baer said.
A former star running back in high school who rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns during his senior year, the 5-foot-11, 224-pound speedster was a force to be reckoned with on special teams in college, blocking four punts during his career. But Keiaho didn't get to start at middle linebacker until his senior year. When that opportunity arrived, he made people notice him there as well by leading the Aztecs defense with 113 tackles (68 solo).
One of the big questions is where does Keiaho fit in to the Colts defense? Indianapolis has Gary Brackett entering his second-year as the starter at middle linebacker and veteran Rob Morris behind him on the depth chart. They lost their starter at the strongside spot with the departure of David Thornton to Tennessee, but apparently plan to give weakside backup Gilbert Gardner first shot at nailing down that position. And they have Pro Bowler Cato June at the weakside spot.
"I think Freddie's first thing will be that he's going to be a special teams player, and a great special teams player because he's really good at that," Bauer said. "They'll probably try putting him at the middle 'backer, but NFL teams take these young guys and work them in at the different positions to see where they fit the mold and also where they need him -- and that can change at any time."