Before you take a look at the players on this list and dismiss the players as "training camp fodder" remember that the Colts have a long history of finding diamonds in the rough.
These players are all long shots to make the team, to be sure, but plenty of obscure undrafted free agents have made it onto the roster (for example, Curtis Johnson, Jordan in 2008), into the starting lineup (Ed Johnson, Gary Brackett) and even to the Pro Bowl (Jeff Saturday). Will any of these players follow suit?
Only time will tell. But let's at least get to know them better.
1. Ramon Humber: The Colts jettisoned one linebacker named Ramon this offseason — Ramon Guzman — but added another in Humber, a 21-year-old from North Dakota State.
He started all 11 games for the Bison in 2008 and was the team's tackle leader with 93 from the strongside linebacker spot.
At 5-feet-11, 232 pounds, he's gained a considerable amount of weight during his college years (he weighed 214 as a freshman) but may still be a bit small to play strongside for the Colts.
Although 5-feet-11, 221-pound Freddy Keiaho and 6-feet, 236-pound Tyjuan Hagler have manned the strongside position for the Colts in recent years, the Colts may want to beef up at the point of attack going into 2009. The top two probable candidates to start are probably Philip Wheeler (6-feet-2, 240) and Adam Seward (6-feet-3, 250).
Size isn't everything, though, especially on the Colts, so that doesn't necessarily mean that Humber won't be on the strongside.
Like all the players on this list, he'll need to earn his spot on the roster through excelling on special teams in training camp and the preseason.
However, Humber is also carrying some baggage that could negatively impact his chances.
According to the Associated Press, Humber's roommate at North Dakota State, receiver Jordan Schultenover, is now facing drug charges and Humber is also being investigated, and told police he used marijuana, but has not been charged.
That's certainly not the attention a man who has at least eight players — Wheeler, Seward, Hagler, Keiaho, Gary Brackett, Clint Session, Michael Okwo and Jordan Senn — favored to make the roster ahead of him at this point.
Click here to see highlights from Humber's Pro Day on Youtube.
2. Mike Tauiliili: Tauiliili's name looks like a typo, but the other 31 teams that passed on him may be the ones making a mistake.
AP Photo/Jerry Lai
Tauiliili (5-feet-11, 235 pounds), whose last name is a nod to his Samoan heritage (his given last name was Brown), excelled on some very bad teams while a member of the Duke University Blue Devils. He was a four-year starter and racked up 140 tackles as a senior, good for third in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. However, the Blue Devils went 1-10, 0-12, 1-11, and 4-8 in Tauiliili's career.
Like, Humber, he's got some red flags in his past. Tauiliili was suspended one game in the 2007 season after being arrested on a variety of charges, including some involving weapons.
He did end his collegiate career on a high note, however, as he was named Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game. He impressed NFL.com's Gil Brandt at his Pro Day. Brandt wrote that Tauiliili showed "he will be a special teams star in the pros."
Tauiliili did play extremely well in a BCS conference against some pretty stiff competition, and there's no doubt that new special teams coach Ray Rychleski is familiar with Tauiliili after facing Duke while a coach at Clemson. And Rychleski is the man Tauiliili will have to impress, and fulfill Brandt's prophecy, if he hopes to make this team.
3. Tyrell Sales: Unlike Humber and Tauiliili, Sales actually comes from a big-time collegiate football program as a Penn State Nittany Lion.
Although he's certainly not the best player to come from Joe Paterno's "Linebacker U," he's certainly had the best coaching of the trio and the most winning experience.
It took Sales two years to break into the starting lineup, but he started 25 of 26 games as a junior and senior, making 68 tackles and forcing two fumbles in 2008.
"[Sales] was an average major-college player who was always overshadowed by much better athletes around him," FightOnState.com's Mark Brennan told ColtPower.com. "He can run a decent 40 but that never seemed to translate into game speed. He made one great play in his career — keeping a loose fumble alive so a teammate could recover at a key moment in a win at Ohio State last year — but that was due more to his guile than athletic ability. I'm not sure where he'll fit in at the next level (inside or outside) because he'll struggle in coverage and he's not a natural run-stopper. But he will pick up the playbook quickly and he'll do whatever the coaches ask of him without complaint. He was on special teams coverage units as a senior at Penn State."
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
The 6-feet-2, 230-pounder, who was born on New Year's Day 1986, also had some run-ins with the law while at Penn State. He had all charges against him stemming from a fight in downtown State College dismissed in 2007. However, Sales was also arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing in Pittsburgh in 2008, and was picked up for a DUI earlier this spring, just before the draft — which probably explains why he went undrafted.
While those problems may make Sales look like a bad apple, that's not exactly the case, says Brennan.
"Penn State has had a few meatheads go through the program in recent years but Sales was not one of them," Brennan said. "He was well respected by his teammates, coaches and the media, and was involved in any number of charity events.
"From this angle, an overzealous local district attorney had no business dragging him (and several others) into the apartment fight fiasco. With respect to that situation, Sales was in the exact same boat as Lydell Sargeant — a judge dropped all charges against the two of them and one other player. The DA withdrew charges against the "name" player of the group, Justin King, on the morning of the preliminary hearing.
Brennan added that he didn't believe the incidents should warrant fans to label him a troublemaker, though.
"The Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day incident [in 2008] was overblown, too, from everything I've heard. As I recall, Sales ended up serving one day of community service simply because he did not want to drag it out by going to court.
"As for the DUI, that was obviously a very serious offense and people have every right to criticize him for a terrible lapse of judgement. Making it even worse was the timing of the offense — right when he was trying to impress the NFL people.
"Overall, however, I'd suggest people view that offense on its own and make whatever judgments they will based on it rather than some perceived pattern of trouble that really was not there."
The Colts have had their fill of troubled defensive players from Penn State, although they decided to give Ed Johnson another chance this spring along with Sales. Johnson is facing a one-game suspension to start the year and Sales would probably have to enter under the league's drug program. Both former Lions will need to be on their best behavior if they want to draw a paycheck from the Colts this fall.
HARTZ'S HUNCH: This wasn't intended to be a negative article, but during research on these three players, a common thread seemed to be their possible questionable judgment in their personal lives that has led to legal issues. While that in no way makes them unique among NFL players — and in no way indicates whether they will make the team — those red flags go a long way towards explaining why Tauiliili and Sales weren't drafted.
Humber came from a lower level of competition, as North Dakota State is a Football Championship Subdivision team. That doesn't mean he can't make the team — both Senn and Curtis Johnson came from a lower level — but he'll certainly have the toughest adjustment to the NFL game. His possible legal problems just came to light last week — and again, he has not been charged with anything — but it's not something he wants hanging over his head as he sets out to attempt to make the team.
It's difficult to imagine any of these three on the opening day roster, considering the talent ahead of them at linebacker. If you're taking odds, my money would go to Tauiliili at this point, but none of these players look like ones to bet the farm on at this point.
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