Colts Prospect: Nick Roach

Nick Roach is a multi-talented prospect who has a shot at staring in the NFL — if he can stay healthy. At the very least, he's a top special-teams guy who can fill in at linebacker when necessary.

Nick Roach LB Northwestern

The numbers: 6004/234/4.74

2006 stats: 41 tackles, 21 assists, 4-20 tackles for loss, 2-17 sacks, 1-14-0 interception

The player: Look at Roach on film and you'll get excited about his pro prospects. A veritable tackling machine from his weakside position at Northwestern, Roach seems to be everywhere all the time. He's a fluid athlete who can do it all — stack, pursue, blitz and cover. Roach generally knows where the ball is and is a smart player who is virtually impossible to fool on play-action or draw plays. He specializes in blowing up screen plays.

There are the usual drawbacks, though. He's a bit undersized and isn't really great at shedding blocks. But that's true of most weakside prospects, and shouldn't hurt his pro prospects much.

What is pushing his stock down, though, is his lack of durability. He gets hurt a lot. It's not that Roach isn't tough, but his reckless style of play makes him prone to injury.

The team that does get him, though, will not just get a linebacker prospect, but a guy with special-teams ability, mentality and experience.

They will also get a top character guy who improves those around him by example. Roach earned an art degree at academically respected Northwestern with a minor in business, so you know he's a serious dude.

Reminds me of: While Roach likes to think of himself as a Derrick Brooks type (don't they all?), he looks to me more like Philadelphia's Omar Gaither — a fifth-rounder who performed so well on special teams that he beat out over-hyped second-rounder Matt McCoy for a starting spot.

How he fits: For some bizarre reason, many draft books are projecting Roach inside. Maybe it's his lack of height. But anybody who's watched him play knows that Roach has NFL ability (NFL starter ability) on the weakside and that he'd be eaten up in the middle. If he can stay healthy, I could easily see Roach competing for a starting spot after a year or two on specials. He's one of those guys you take a flyer on and hope he pays off.

His lack of size and questions about his durability should push Roach into the second day of the draft.

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