Cincinnati defensive end/tight end Connor Barwin spoke with representatives from the Colts prior to the Senior Bowl.
Barwin played in 49 games with the Bearcats, mostly at tight end, but started 13 games at defensive end in his senior year.
His career statistics are a mixed bag, with 53 receptions for 692 yards and six touchdowns, 49 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, six passed defended, four blocked kicks, and three punt returns for 38 yards.
Barwin didn't really have an opportunity to contribute until his junior year, playing primarily special teams — where he blocked those kicks — but had a chance to shine as a tight end in his junior season.
Barwin tips a pass against South Florida
AP Photo/David Kohl
He caught 31 passes for 399 yards and two touchdowns that year and showed the ability to work the soft spot in zones and became a valuable target in the red zone.
His breakout season, though, came as a senior where, as a first-time starter on defense, he accumulated most of those tackles, all the tackles for loss, all the passes defended, and all 11 of those sacks.
In a major conference such as the Big East, it is an extraordinary accomplishment to post statistics like that in your first year as a starter, to say nothing of it being your first experience as a player on that side of the ball.
Scouts have taken notice, as Barwin is currently ranked as the sixth-best prospect at the defensive end position and the 63rd overall prospect. Given his athleticism and the fact that he was fast and agile enough to play tight end, his draft stock should only improve after he works out at the Combine.
That means that Indianapolis would either need to take him in the first round or hope that he falls to them in the second. Unless he has a very poor showing in Indianapolis this month and does not atone at his Pro Day, he will be gone by the end of the second round.
In addition, a number of 3-4 teams may draft him as an outside linebacker, since he is a fast learner, is athletic, and has an understanding of the passing game having played the tight end position.
At 6-feet-3 and 253 pounds, there are a number of possibilities for a player that has the raw talent, experience, and malleable nature that Barwin possesses.
Chris Steuber agrees: "Barwin is a versatile player who has experience playing on both sides of the ball. He has a great frame; a bit undersized, but has a strong upper body and is aggressive at the point of attack. He initiates contact off the snap and plays with great leverage. He has quick feet, savvy moves and is relentless off the edge. He has to shed blocks cleanly and be consistent defending the run."
With his size, speed, short area quickness, and tenacity, Barwin would be a good fit to play defensive end in a rotation with Raheem Brock, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Curtis Johnson, and Marcus Howard.
However, with the depth the Colts already have at the position and the needs they have in other areas, Barwin would be a luxury pick in the second round that they may not be able to afford.
If, on the outside chance that Barwin is labeled an "athlete" — a jack of all trades, but master of none — and slips to the third or fourth round, then he makes sense as an exceptional value pick.
In the first two rounds, however, he is likely a rare player that they cannot afford, given the other roster spots that need attention.
Learn more about Barwin in this story from Scout.com's Ed Thompson.