Evander Hood appeared in 50 games in four years for the Missouri Tigers and was remarkably consistent throughout his career there. He tallied five sacks in both his junior and senior seasons, finishing with 153 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, eight passes defended, five forced fumbles, and one blocked kick.
Although he did have a few nagging injuries throughout his collegiate career, he only missed three games total, all in 2006, when he broke his foot and played through the injury the last seven games of that season.
At 6-feet-3 and 298 pounds, "Ziggy" is just about the right size to play nose tackle for the Colts — at least in the Meeks/Dungy system — though he is lighter than Antonio Johnson, Daniel Muir and Boston College's Ron Brace, who Indianapolis also talked to in Mobile.
Where he truly fits into the Cover 2 scheme is in his ability to shoot gaps, penetrate into the back field, and use his explosive first few steps — as well as some moves he's developed over the past couple of years — to get past the guard and center and to the ball carrier.
Hood gets a sack vs. Baylor in 2008
AP Photo/Jerry Larson
In practices on the Monday prior to the game, Chris Steuber was impressed by how well Hood adjusted to the scheme the Bengals installed and by what he referred to as a "tremendous burst off the line and a variety of moves inside, which included an insane inside spin move against California center Alex Mack."
The Colts spoke with Mack as well, but it's unclear whether they had their eye on him and talked to Hood as a result of his impressive performance against Mack.
Steuber also mentioned that Hood's early practices reminded him of Trevor Laws' performance at last year's Senior Bowl practices. Laws, a Notre Dame grad, was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft, so that bodes well for Hood.
He's currently the 83rd-ranked player overall, which would place him in the second half of the third round, but plays a position of need and is the fourth-ranked defensive tackle. If a run starts at the position — and it usually does, especially when a position is as top heavy as defensive tackle usually is and appears to be this year — then Hood could very easily be chosen in the second round of the 2009 draft.
He does have amazing short area quickness, is very athletic for a man his size, has a very active motor, and has already refined a number of his pass rushing moves, so he would appear to be the total package. Size, speed, athleticism, dedication, tenacity, and a commitment to learning the craft of the position are usually traits that land a defensive tackle prospect in the first round.
When you add in the fact that he was aware enough to bat down eight passes at the line, in on enough plays to force five fumbles, and quick enough off the snap to block a kick, it starts to look plausible that Hood could have a first round grade by the time April rolls around.
The trouble is that Hood, practice aside, does not seem to be cooperating thus far. After a solid start to the week Steuber did not mention Hood's name again for the remainder of the week and Hood had only one assisted tackle in the game itself. While the entire front seven for the North — and one of the men in front of him on Scout.com's draft list at the position, BJ Raji — struggled against the South's offensive line, the Senior Bowl was Hood's first chance to stand out on the national stage.
He still has the Combine in February and his Pro Day on March 19, so he will have plenty of opportunities to wow scouts with his athleticism when position drills and workout numbers are are all said and done. However, if he posts bad numbers, that will hurt his stock and he will likely plummet to the end of the second round or possibly even the third round, where the Colts would be waiting to take him.
The traits listed earlier are rare enough that a bad offseason and poor workout numbers should not affect Indianapolis' decision on draft day. The Colts should trust what they see on film and on the field at that point, not numbers. That has served them well so far and would serve them well should Hood slide into the second day.
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