Ed Thompson, Senior NFL Analyst for Scout.com, has told ColtPower.com that Indianapolis officials met with Mississippi State safety Derek Pegues at the Combine in February.
Pegues was an extremely versatile player at the collegiate level, returning kickoffs and punts in addition to his work on defense.
For his career, he appeared in 47 out of 48 games with 146 tackles, four tackles for loss, 12 interceptions which were returned for an amazing 241 yards and three touchdowns, 79 punt returns for 792 yards and two touchdowns, 112 kickoff returns for 2,498 yards, 20 passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
Basically, he was all over the field on both defense and special teams.
However, in a fairly weak safety class — both strong and free safeties — he's currently ranked 7th at his position and 87th overall.
Gene Swindoll, publisher of Gene's Page, the Mississippi site on Scout.com, feels as though any team that takes him in that part of the draft — late third, early fourth round — will be getting a steal. "He initially came into his senior year projected as a possible first-rounder," Swindoll said.
Pegues intercepts a pass vs. Georgia
AP Photo/Todd Bennett
Some of the reasons for the drop in his draft status have to do with his speed, size, and coverage abilities at the strong safety position. "At 5-feet-10, 194 pounds, he is very strong for his size and is a hard-nose player who has good but not great speed (4.56 to 4.58 in the 40 at his Pro Day)," Swindoll said. "His physical skills are more suited to strong safety on the pro level, although he played both safety and cornerback in college."
But Swindoll also adds that Pegues has some intangibles in addition to what scouts and general managers will see when they look at the film. "He's a guy who truly loves the game of football and will work very hard every day in practice," Swindoll said. "During his college career he was a team leader who was always a team player. He is a very nice guy who will only be written about in the newspapers due to what he does on the field and not what he does off it."
Pegues is another in a long line of NFL players — particularly at the running back and safety position — whose draft position has been hurt not by his experience and production in college, but by his postseason workout numbers.
Most recently, and most relevant to Colts fans, Jamie Silva went from leading Boston College in tackles as a safety during the 2007 season to going undrafted in 2008. He was timed at almost 4.9 seconds in the 40 at the Combine and his Pro Day last year, which bodes well for Pegues.
Derek's workout numbers aren't bad, they just aren't phenomenal. He ran a 4.3 second short shuttle and had 23 reps on the bench press, so he did have some impressive times to report from his Pro Day. When teams go to the tape, they'll obviously see a player with numerous talents that excelled in coverage at the collegiate level — though it remains to be seen what he'll do against NFL caliber receivers — played quite well as a box defender, and was extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands, no matter what type of return he was executing.
For a player to make the Colts as a safety, they need to be able to help the club in more areas than just on defense, since Indianapolis has two accomplished starters and very capable backups.
Pegues fits that mold as a return man and Al Afalava fits that mold someone that could immediately contribute on coverage teams. Since they do not have a need at the position — although they certainly have a need for a return specialist — it may come down to draft position and Pegues is simply too well-regarded and too skilled to slide past Afalava during draft weekend.
Indianapolis is also looking at a number of talented return men that also play receiver or cornerback, which are positions of higher need for the team.
Ultimately, Bill Polian and company are going to take the best athlete available and, given Pegues' position, team needs, and the way the draft board is stacked for the Colts, he could end up on the outside looking in. Although some team will be happy to get him, it may not be the Colts.
But, anything can happen during the course of the draft and, if the worst case scenario is that Indianapolis ends up with Pegues on the roster, well, that's not a bad scenario at all.
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