Small Package Could Be Big Payoff

The Colts got good production from their running backs in 2007, but many feel the team could improve its backfield depth. Indianapolis has spoken with a running back who could be available on the second day of the NFL Draft. Find out more about this player inside!

As's Ed Thompson reported in his Draft Buzz on March 11, the Colts have spoken with Georgia running back Thomas Brown during the lead-up to next month's NFL Draft.

Brown had a productive career with the Bulldogs, rushing for 2,646 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry and has recovered from two career-threatening injuries — a broken leg as a senior in high school and an ACL injury in his junior year at Georgia. He also broke his collarbone while at Georgia.

As a senior in 2007, Brown shared carries with freshman Knowshon Moreno. The duo combined for over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns, with Brown compiling 779 yards and 10 scores, respectively.

Thomas Brown
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Despite standing just 5 feet, 8 inches and weighing 204 pounds, Brown was able to get the tough yards in college and is a capable pass blocker, as well.

"Being a pass-blocker is not a natural thing to do, but being in Georgia — and understanding the system we were in — you had to learn how to pass-block and take practice week-in and week-out and get used to it," Brown told Thompson. "In my opinion, pass-blocking has the built-in mentality that you always have to be the bigger guy to be successful, but I'm a prime example that it's more about leverage and attitude."

Brown is also likely drawing attention from the Colts because he also was a standout kick returner in college, averaging 22.7 yards per return. He tied a Georgia record with a 99-yard return for a score his junior year vs. Tennessee.

Brown showed his strength and athleticism at the NFL Combine, finishing eighth among running backs with 25 repetitions at 225 pounds, and was third in the vertical jump with a leap of 36 inches. He was fourth in the broad jump, going 10 feet, eight inches.

However, it's probably a combination of Brown's size and speed that has pundits projecting him as late-round pick. His 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine was 4.51. That's not slow by any means, but it's not top-end speed for a running back, either. has him ranked as the 17th-best running back in a draft assumed to be deep at the position.

Brown just doesn't have the type of physical attributes that could push him higher in the draft, but he certainly seems to have the drive and toughness to make an NFL roster. He is a hard worker, and was named team captain twice at Georgia and in the East-West Shrine Game, as well.

Brown, whose favorite player was another undersized running back, Barry Sanders, could certainly be a player the Colts would want to keep an eye on as the draft progresses. And his physical attributes are similar to Maurice Jones-Drew (5 feet, 7 inches, 208 pounds), a player both Bill Polian and Tony Dungy have confirmed the Colts wanted to take in the 2006 Draft.

The question, however, is whether Brown would ultimately be a significant upgrade over backups like Kenton Keith or Clifton Dawson. Keith has shown he's capable of stepping in and shouldering the bulk of the carries. Could Brown hold up like that if the player in front of him goes down? Those are the questions the Colts will have to answer if they decide to add any other running back to their mix this offseason.

But if the Colts — or another team — can get Brown in one of the draft's final rounds, he might just earn a chance to prove he can play with the big boys.

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