Undrafted, "Undersized" LB Gets His Shot

ColtPower.com reported on a linebacker as a late-round consideration for the Colts before last month's NFL Draft. They didn't take him in the draft, but the Colts certainly had their eyes on this speedy youngster. They've signed him as a free agent. What happens next? Brad Keller gives his take on this rookie here.

Indianapolis has signed linebacker/safety Jordan Senn of Portland State as an undrafted free agent.

The young man was first reported on by ColtPower.com shortly after his workout with the team and was also mentioned as an option for the team with their three sixth round compensatory selections, but he ended up not getting selected by anyone.

The Colts did get their man, though, and it looks like there's enough history at the position that Senn might be able to play his natural linebacker position in 2008 and beyond.

Originally it was reported that Senn would be undersized at 5 feet, 11 inches and 225 pounds to play outside linebacker, even for a team like the Colts that prefer smaller, faster players on their front seven.

However, history shows that Cato June — 6 feet and 227 pounds — and Freddy Keiaho at 5 feet, 11 inches and 226 pounds, have both suited up for Indianapolis as either a Sam or Will linebacker and done very well.

In the Indianapolis scheme, they look for explosive players that have a nose for the ball, have a non-stop motor, and make solid contact with the ball carrier when they connect.  Senn appears to have all of those attributes and his athleticism has definitely never been up to debate.

Jordan Senn
AP Photo/Benjamin Sklar

Senn has impressed in previous workouts with a 4.53 second 40-yard dash, a 4.11 second short shuttle, and a 36.5-inch vertical jump.

Those numbers, as well as what the Colts scouts saw on film and in person when they worked him out on March 19, were enough for Indianapolis to take a chance on the young man and give him an opportunity to earn a roster spot.

He played under former NFL coach Jerry Glanville at Portland State.  Upon taking the head job at Portland State, Glanville installed a pro-style defense — he was also the defensive coordinator under June Jones in Hawaii for a number of years — and Senn was forced to learn that defense during the offseason.

With all the changes, Senn was still productive and was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week last September, which means that he learns quickly and can be productive in a professional system.

June played safety at Michigan, but was considered too slow to play that position at the NFL level.  The Colts saw enough potential in June to draft him in the sixth round and convert him to a linebacker.

Since linebacker is the position Senn played in college, there will be less of an adjustment, though he will still need to absorb the coverage and zone responsibilities of his position in the Indianapolis defense, and will also have to acclimate himself to the speed of the game — this was much less of an issue for June, since he played in the Big 10, and Keiaho at least played at the Division I-A level at San Diego State.

But, the good news for Senn is that he does not need to learn a new position at a much higher level of competition on a team loaded with talented defensive backs.

While the Colts do have a great deal of quality depth at the linebacker position — particularly outside linebacker — they are not as deep in the front seven as they are in the back four, particularly at safety.

It will be on Senn throughout OTAs, mini-camps, and training camp, to learn as much as he can and use his athleticism to its greatest advantage, especially if he is to follow in the tradition of "undersized" prospects such as Keiaho and June.

Tony Dungy and Ron Meeks need a certain type of athlete with a certain type of demeanor and a certain level of athletic ability and it appears as though Senn does in fact fit the mold at the position.

All that having been said, it is not as though the Colts are in desperate need of linebackers to fill the practice field.

Senn does have a lot going for him, but he will need to make an immediate impact on special teams if nothing else and show that he is capable of playing at this level and this speed before the Indianapolis staff will trust him with a roster spot.  He may end up on the practice squad based purely on potential and his long-term ability to contribute in the kicking game.

But, Victor Worsley and Brandon Archer will certainly be able to share stories with Senn about how being on the taxi squad puts you one injury away from the regular roster.

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