According to Scout.com Senior NFL Analyst Ed Thompson, Oregon State safety Al Afalava has a visit scheduled with the Colts on April 7. Afalava was a four-year starter with the Beavers and compiled some impressive statistics throughout the course of his career with 167 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 14 passes defended, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, two touchdowns, and a fumble recovery in 47 games.
Usually four-year starters for Division I BCS schools are sought after prospects — especially in a pass-heavy conference such as the Pac 10 — but Afalava is currently the 23rd-ranked safety according to Scout.com's position rankings and the 288th-ranked player overall.
Since Mr. Irrelevant will be taken 256th overall by the Chiefs, that puts Afalava directly on the bubble between being an undrafted free agent and a 7th-round prospect.
Afalava and a Beaver teammate bring down a UCLA ballcarrier
Generally speaking, players that were successful in college but aren't highly regarded as NFL prospects are guys that don't meet the measurables requirements for pro teams at the position or are generally not considered athletic enough to keep up with the speed of the game at the next level. Many suspected that Bob Sanders was too small to play the safety position and every team in the draft passed on Jamie Silva in 2008 due in part to his poor workout numbers.
For his part, Afalava made up for the fact that he was not invited to the Combine by posting some eye-catching numbers at his Pro Day on March 13th. He ran a 4.47 40, which should put to rest any questions scouts and general managers have about his speed and fared particularly well in the short shuttle with a time of 4.07 seconds. The second time is noteworthy because it shows a great deal of agility and his ability to change direction, which is obviously advantageous when pursuing the ball carrier.
Jim Phillips of BeaverFootball.com talked about Afalava's tenacity and hitting ability when he mentioned Afalava's strengths: "Hits like a truck, great instincts against the run, and an intimidator covering the slants and digs over the middle." However, a glimpse into Afalava's weaknesses also shows why he is not high on a lot of draft boards. "His game speed is an issue," Phillips said. "And he is more susceptible to long ball than is considered ideal."
When he makes the leap from college to the pros, NFL teams will expect Afalava to contribute in pass coverage and the Colts in particular will ask him to cover the deep area of the field, so that weakness is certainly a concern.
When asked about Afalava's pro prospects, Phillips said, "He's not a guy who is going to test through the roof and his lack of top end speed could be an issue at the next level. But he has very good instincts and is a smart football player who will punish people. I would liken him somewhat to Hamza Abdullah but a bigger hitter. Depending on how a team uses their safeties, if they roll them up a bit, he could be one of those guys that outperforms guys who get more press."
Although that scouting report does not speak to a successful career with the Colts as a starter, he could be a special teams standout with his lethal combination of straightline speed and hitting ability. Afalava is a player that seems to thrive on contact and could certainly step in and immediately contribute on coverage units.
His hustle would fill the void currently left by Matt Giordano — who is still available in free agency — and he would provide youth and depth to the secondary as he continues to learn his position responsibilities with Indianapolis.
Alan Williams will no doubt be able to get maximum production from him as a defensive back and he's a perfect candidate to improve under the tutelage of new special teams coach Ray Rychleski.
If the Colts do not re-sign Giordano or Keiwan Ratliff, they will need bodies for depth and the kicking game if nothing else. In the seventh round, Afalava provides exceptional upside and very little risk.
Talk about this player in our Insider's Forum!
Follow ColtPower's updates on Twitter!