Wide receiver Tommy Ellingworth from little Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, caught the attention of some NFL scouts at a recent Pro Day, and one of the teams that expressed an interest in taking a closer look at Ellingworth was the Colts.
He's not currently one of the top 45 players at his position according to Scout.com, but his status could change on the Colts draft board once they have the opportunity to speak with him further and conduct a private workout.
Ellingworth is actually very similar to Eddie Royal, the prospect from Virginia Tech that Indianapolis has already shown some interest in. He is slightly taller than Royal (5 feet, 10 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches), about the same weight (186 pounds to 184 pounds), and scorched the stopwatches at the aforementioned Pro Day with a time of 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Royal was timed at 4.46 in the same drill at the Combine.
Photo: Inertia Sports Media
Both men are very likely to contribute on special teams, since they both have experience returning kicks and punts and both have worked on coverage teams.
Of course, the reason that Royal is rated as a fourth-round prospect at the absolute worst and Ellingworth will probably end up at the end of the draft, or as a priority free agent, is the level of competition Ellingworth faced at Division II Augustana.
He is similar in stature and physical attributes to both Royal and Marvin Harrison, but the fact that he was able to line up and play against inferior athletes at the Division II level means that he did not need to work as much on technique and recognition in order to get open — he simply outran or outmaneuvered his opponent to the ball.
He was very productive throughout the course of his collegiate career with 211 catches for 2,398 yards and also starred on the track team as a sprinter and a hurdler.
The interesting thing to note about those statistics, though, is that sprinters generally have gaudy yards per reception numbers and his average of 11.4 is not particularly gaudy or impressive.
But the important thing to remember in all of this is that there would be at least three highly-skilled players in front of him on the depth chart in Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Anthony Gonzalez, so he would have plenty of time to refine his technique and work on honing his athletic ability into production at the NFL level.
As at least the fourth receiver on the depth chart, it will be imperative for Ellingworth to contribute in the kicking game, not only as a returner, but on coverage units as well.
A player with his kind of speed, athletic ability, and motivation to succeed, if he ends up signing as an undrafted free agent, would be a huge asset to a special teams unit in dire need of an upgrade after a tumultuous 2007 season.
It's always a gamble to take a chance on an unknown player from an obscure school. Most scouts are more comfortable choosing from the best available options of the Division I ranks.
But players like Ellingworth and Justin Beaver tend to force scouts, coaches, and general managers to re-evaluate that outlook.
Both prospects are worth taking a shot at as free agents, particularly Ellingworth, who could actually serve as a valuable asset on the practice squad working with the scout team while he learns the position from some of the best receivers in the league.
With more depth at receiver than running back in this year's draft, it's a chance worth taking after the last player has had his name called on April 27th.