Linebacker Prospect is an Enigma

Some reports have the Colts taking a serious look at a linebacker from a lower level of NCAA football who could be hit-or-miss. Some scouts are touting this player, while others are panning him. Are the Colts in the camp that believes, or will they pass on this mystery man?

The scouting reports on Hofstra linebacker Gian Villante range from "buyer beware" to "sleeper candidate."

Those simple facts make the young man a very intriguing prospect and someone that, understandably, the Colts felt they needed a closer look at.  Villante has excellent measurables at 6 feet, 2 inches and 240 pounds, and has been clocked anywhere from 4.59 to 4.65 in the 40 yard dash.

He played against a lower level of competition at the Division I FCS level, which makes the production he had in college difficult to gauge.

Since he was a far superior athlete to most of the players he faced off against every week, his 410 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, and eight sacks could be inflated simply because he was faster and stronger than everyone else on the field.

But, there have been a number of prospects that have emerged as candidates for 2008 NFL rosters, such as Craig Hormann, Matt Sherry, and highly-touted quarterback prospect Joe Flacco.

Gian Villante
Photo: Hofstra Athletic Communications

And, since the Colts have talked to two of those gentlemen — also, they would have no compelling reason to speak with Flacco — there must be some diamonds in the rough and some NFL-ready talent in the Division I FCS pool.

Judging strictly from his workout numbers, measurables, and college production, Villante would certainly fit the sleeper mold alluded to earlier.

As a matter of fact, Draft Analyst Chris Steuber is one man that believes in Villante's upside.  "He's a high-motor guy and a very good tackler," Steuber said.  "He always seems to be in a position to make a play, flies around the ball, and shows good instincts.  In addition to the 4.59 40 he ran at his Pro Day, he also showed excellent strength, benching 225 pounds 30 times.  The only question about him is the level of competition he played against.  A team may select him in the seventh round, as he should be a solid special teams player."

There are just as many reports, though, from respected sources, that doubt Villante's ability to make the adjustment in speed and scheme to the NFL level.

Some question his work ethic, many question his ability to take on blocks and win battles at the point of attack, and almost all of them report that he is a prospect that looks good in shorts and on the stopwatch, but not so good in pads, and certainly not on a professional football field.

Also, has an injury history, having missed the entire 2005 campaign with a knee injury.

However, the ultimate consensus is that he rates out as a seventh-round prospect at best and an undrafted prospect for another team at worst.

In that case, the Colts should probably shoot for something in the middle — wait to see if he goes undrafted and make him an offer as a free agent.

If nothing else, an athlete of his caliber should be able to contribute on special teams, and that's an area where Indianapolis could certainly stand to improve.

If he ends up on the positive end of the spectrum, the Colts get a player that has value in the kicking game.  If he ends up in the negative end, they did not waste a draft selection and can easily distance themselves from their mistake by cutting Villante early in training camp.

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