Numbers: 6020/229, 4.41 forty, 2.52 twenty, 1.50 ten, 19 reps, 37.5 vertical, 10'3 long, 4.13 shuttle, 6.65 cone
2006 stats: 13-147-2 receiving, 3-56-0 kick returns, 1 special-teams tackle
The Player: There were a lot of scouts at Ohio State's pro day because there were a lot of potential stars there. But no player stood out as much as Roy Hall. A big, sculpted athlete, he ran a 4.38 forty. It wasn't official, but it drew a lot of men with stopwatches asking him to do it again. He didn't, but he did run a 4.41 and a whole bunch of low-4.4s that day. And he jumped and shuttled and coned and benched much better than anyone expected.
So why was Mr. Everything a relative unknown before his pro day performance? Probably because he was fifth on the Buckeyes' list of wideouts last year. That's not quite as bad as it sounds. The Buckeye's offense usually starts three receivers and their 2006 crew had more talent and depth than most NFL squads. Two of the four ahead of him — Ted Ginn Jr. and the Colts' own Anthony Gonzalez — were first-round picks this year, and the other two — Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline — look like they'll be high draft picks in 2008 and 2009. All of them have the stuff to be future NFL starters.
Hall didn't play behind those guys because of any physical deficiencies. He's big, fast, agile and has good enough hands. In fact, he has the in-born talent to have been at the head of the class. He's not afraid to use his strength by shielding the ball from the defender's reach, fighting for extra yards after the catch and, no surprise here, laying killer blocks in the running game.
But for all his talent, Hall didn't play all that much in college. The reasons for this are simple: He ran poor routes, he didn't try that hard when the ball wasn't coming his way and he dropped more than his share of easy catches. Simply put, he would have played more if he tried harder.
Despite his speed, Hall doesn't have much potential as a return man because he's something of a long-strider who takes a long while to get to top speed. He has some experience as a special-teams tackler and blocker, but did not excel at it in college.
Reminds me of: On some plays, Hall looks a lot like Oakland's Jerry Porter, but he lacks Porter's aggressiveness and determination. Coming out of college, Hall looks a lot like Kassim Osgood, a similarly built wide receiver who has had a few long catches for the Chargers, but hasn't really been a reliable performer, except on special teams.
How he fits: Don't be fooled into putting Hall into either the wide receiver hole or tight end hole. The Colts are more diversified and sophisticated than that. Just as 252-pound Dallas Clark is sometimes split wide, I've seen 191-pound Brandon Stokley go in motion and serve as a lead blocker. Bryan Fletcher has lined up at fullback and Ben Utecht is likely to find himself at any of a number of positions.
The Colts do this to create mismatches. Should the defense try to cover the split end with a 5'9 corner, he'll have to try to hold up against a behemoth like Clark at least every once in a while. If they decide to put a linebacker on the slot, he would have been eaten alive (in the good ol' days) by Stokley or (from now on) by Gonzalez.
That's where a guy like Hall can come in handy. If he improves his route-running and concentration, he could become a legitimate threat who can line up at any number of positions or go in motion to create a mismatch or confusion on the opposing team. Even if he never gets that much better, he's still a threat that must be countered. Suppose it's third and long. The Colts send Hall from H-back or tight end on a post or option route. That'll take at least one safety out of coverage, or split the deep zone. You think Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Gonzalez, Clark, Utecht and/or Fletcher couldn't take advantage of that?
Hall is far from a finished product, but he will be able to learn and get as many practice reps as he needs with Indianapolis, which now has a wealth of receivers. He'll be expected to use his speed and size on special teams — more likely as a blocker on return teams than as a tackler on coverage teams — before he gets too many chances on offense.
Hall is, to put it bluntly, the type of luxury only successful teams can afford. He has awesome potential, but has delivered very little actual production. There's a significant chance he won't make it out of training camp. There's an even better chance he'll hang around for years, adding the odd reception here and the occasional block or special-teams tackle there. But there's also a just as significant chance that he will become a vital cog in the offense, blasting past linebackers and stomping on defensive backs on his way to glory.
Bad teams need to save their fifth-round picks to fill holes. Good teams can take a chance on a potentially great player. Consider Hall to be the Colts' lottery ticket.