Marcus Freeman spent five seasons in Columbus as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. He logged the bulk of his snaps his last three seasons with the team, playing sparsely in his freshman season and he was redshirted in his sophomore year as a result of a knee injury and resulting infection.
For his career, he totaled 264 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, 15 passes defended, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 42 games. Like Ron Brace at Boston College with B.J. Raji, Freeman's stellar play was often overlooked due to the star power of his teammate, James Laurinaitis.
But now that they are no longer teammates and are unlikely to be in the future, Freeman is doing an excellent job of establishing himself now that he has graduated.
Marcus Freeman forces a Juice Williams fumble
AP Photo/Seth Perlman
He's currently the sixth-ranked outside linebacker and the 80th-ranked player overall, according to the Scout.com draft database and, given his recent numbers in workouts and impressive performances in position drills, his star is definitely on the rise. He will not end up on the level of Laurinaitis (second-ranked middle linebacker, 17th overall), but he may sneak into the last part of the second round or the early part of the third — in fact, he went 45th to the New York Giants in the recent Scout.com Publishers Mock Draft.
After watching the film, teams obviously knew what they had in Freeman. His production and motor speak for themselves, as you simply don't average six tackles a game unless you have a nose for the ball — especially when surrounded by the kind of talent he was surrounded by on defense.
He certainly would be able to step in right away in run support and, while he's a little big to play outside linebacker for the Colts at a shade under 6-feet-1 and 239 pounds, he also has a great deal of speed and athletic ability.
Freeman met with officials from Indianapolis at the Combine in February, where he put up a position-best 30 reps on the bench press, but underwhelmed in the 40-yard dash, posting a time of 4.74 seconds. For a typical team that runs the 4-3 defense, Freeman is actually a little short — most 4-3 teams prefer a player that is at least 6-feet-3 and a tad bit heavier — so it was imperative that he show scouts and general managers that he has the quickness to compensate for his shorter stature.
He proved exactly that at his Pro Day on March 13, running the 40 in 4.51 seconds, looking smooth in his position drills, and improving all his numbers. In addition to shaving nearly a quarter second off his 40 time, he also ran the short shuttle in 4.08 versus 4.12 and the long shuttle in 6.66 versus 6.98. The stability of his short shuttle time is a good indicator of his overall quickness and lateral movement, proving that he might actually be that fast and probably just got off to a bad start at the Combine or just had a couple of bad runs.
His 10-yard dash times are almost identical — 1.55 at his Pro Day and 1.56 at the Combine — and his 20-yard dash numbers, coupled with his 40 time show that he may just not have finished hard enough — 2.68 at the Combine, 2.59 at his Pro Day.
The Colts signed free agent Adam Seward Friday night, but with Tyjuan Hagler and Freddy Keiaho unlikely to return they will need help at the linebacker position and Bill Polian and company will certainly look to the draft first. They could always use the depth at a position that is already young, but many of its members are starting to get old enough for restricted free agency.
Regular readers of ColtPower.com know that Indianapolis has a draft board that is pretty stocked with linebackers for every round — both inside and outside — so they can choose their spots. That means that they don't necessarily have to reach for Freeman, but they would obviously count themselves lucky if he were there towards the end of round two or three for them to scoop up.
It remains to be seen whether or not this front office will take a linebacker in the first day, even with a new coach in the draft room. The Colts have a long and distinguished history of taking late round or undrafted players and making something out of them and the smart money is on them continuing to go with what has worked in the past.
However, it's always interesting to think of what the coaching staff could do with a player of Freeman's ilk. Since he would come to the team with excellent instincts, a nose for the ball, and tremendous athletic ability, all they would need to do is teach him the system and watch him go.
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