Colts Prospect: Stewart Bradley LB Nebraska

While Bradley may not be the kind of athlete that makes scouts drool just by showing up, he is an experienced linebacker from a big-time program who plays hard, plays smart and has always been productive

Stewart Bradley LB Nebraska

The numbers: 6036/254/4.72

2006 stats: 41 tackles, 35 assists, 6-18 tackles for loss, 1-6 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 3 forced fumbles, 4-0-0 fumble recoveries, 1-(-1)-0 punt return

The player: Remember Quentin Coryatt, the fastest, hard-hittin'-est linebacker the Colts just had to choose with the No. 2 pick in 1992? Turned out that although he had all the measurables to be a great linebacker, he didn't have the unmeasurables to succeed. After a few mostly forgettable seasons, he disappeared from the NFL radar and is now running a magazine.

To assuage that painful memory, I present Stewart Bradley — the anti-Coryatt. While his triangle numbers add up to average, his instincts, football intelligence and drive have made him a productive player. In a world of hit-or-miss prospects, Bradley is something of an almost assured single, but a player who's unlikely to ever develop into a homerun.

A big guy who can handle the duties of a Sam or a Mike, Bradley is a load to take on at the point of attack. His strength is not just is shedding blockers, but also in redirecting tight ends and backs at the line of scrimmage. He is an excellent blitzer (with experience at defensive end) and is so adept at stunting, you can expect to see him absolutely unblocked at least once or twice every game.

While not the most acrobatic guy you'll see in coverage, he gets nice drops and understands zones. Just don't expect him to carry that coverage too deep downfield.

An excellent open-field tackler, Bradley will definitely help the team of drafts him as a special-team force. He doesn't blow people up like the highlight films want, he just takes them down and keep 'em down. He does have a habit of both causing and recovering fumbles.

A stellar performance at the Senior Bowl this year upped his stock considerably. While the sack and the forced fumble didn't surprise anyone, Bradley's confidence, ease and fluidity in coverage sure did.

The biggest problem with Bradley has been his durability — or lack of it. Not only did he miss nine games in 2005 because of an ACL tear, but he's been dinged-up throughout his college career. Let's hope that he doesn't follow in the footsteps of another big linebacker (from Nebraska yet) the Colts No. 5 in 1994 — Trev Alberts, who turned out to be as tough and durable as a fragile porcelain mouse.

Bradley is considered a smart and high-character guy, but not a vocal leader.

Reminds me of: Brandon Short, a fourth-round pick by the Giants out of Penn State in 2000. He had a solid but unremarkable career with the Giants, then signed with the Panthers in 2004. After two seasons of the same, he re-signed with the Giants and is carrying on — just as steady as ever.

How he fits: While most draftniks will discount Bradley as "not the Colts type" because he's bigger than most free safeties, I wouldn't be so quick to count him out. The successful experiment last season with Rob Morris on the strongside (not to mention memories of Marcus Washington) may just have convinced the Colts that big at linebacker isn't so bad after all.

If he stays healthy, Bradley could contribute as a rookie on special teams and as a short-yardage and/or blitz package specialist until he's ready to compete for a starting role. Considering how quickly the Colts go through linebackers, that could be sooner than later.

He should be around in the third round but not likely any later than that.

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