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. Colin Cloherty:
Cloherty measures only 6-feet-3 and tips the scales at 245 pounds, which is generally too small to play the tight end position for most NFL teams, but puts him at about average with Jacob Tamme and Dallas Clark — good company — as far as the Colts are concerned.
TE Colin Cloherty
AP Photo/Stew Milne
His lack of size, the fact that he played in the Ivy League for Brown collegiately, and that he registered only 99 receptions for 1,211 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons for the Bears lead to him going undrafted and signing a free agent contract with Indianapolis.
The other issue with Cloherty is that he does not possess the speed and ability to attack the seam in a defense and go deep like Clark and Tamme do. Given the talent on hand at the position and the fact that, at a maximum, Indianapolis is going to keep four tight ends, Cloherty faces abnormally long odds to make the roster.
His best shot is to find a niche as an H-back/fullback type player, similar to the way the Colts used Gijon Robinson in 2008. Cloherty needs to improve his blocking and Robinson needs to get bumped up to a slot position for this to work, but he could add a pass catching/red zone option out of the backfield that Indianapolis has been missing since Luke Lawton was released.
2. John Matthews:
Matthews was tremendously productive at the University of San Diego, but that is obviously not a Division I BCS powerhouse, which certainly hurt his draft status.
On the hoof, he certainly looks the part of a Colts receiver, measuring in at almost six feet tall and 200 pounds. He also ran the 40 yard dash in 4.52 and 4.54 seconds at San Diego State's Pro Day.
Though Indianapolis tends to favor production over measurables when it comes to indentifying quality prospects, those numbers may not be enough to bridge the gap as Matthews adjusts to the speed of the pro game.
The fact remains, though, that his production was similar to that of 2008 selection Pierre Garcon, who dominated Division III football during his college career. The big thing that Garcon had going for him, however, was that he also was able to return kicks, a skill set that Matthews does not have.
All this having been said, the depth chart at wide receiver for the Colts, to be kind, is unsettled. They generally break camp with six receivers on the roster. If Matthews can separate himself, he definitely fits the mold at the position for Indianapolis and could end up contributing on coverage units at the very least.
3. Brett McDermott:
McDermott was consistent throughout his career at Holy Cross, 138 receptions for 1,736 yards, and 14 touchdowns in his three years with the Crusaders. But, considering that Holy Cross is a Division I FCS school, scouts were looking for a little more dazzle in the numbers, and he went undrafted.
At six feet and 201 pounds, McDermott also fits the mold of what Indianapolis looks for at the receiver position, so he has an even shot against Matthews and, again, with the depth chart being what it is at the receiver position for the Colts, his odds of making the roster are instantly improved.
Indianapolis has been lacking a quality slot receiver since the departure of Brandon Stokley, and McDermott, given the type of receiver he is, his game sense, experience, and consistency, could very well be the player to fill that role. He is hurt by the fact that he does not have a great deal of special teams potential, so it is either third receiver or bust for McDermott.
If the Colts decide that he is not their guy, or that Dallas Clark can continue to perform slot duties, McDermott will be on the outside looking in.
Roy Hall would seem to have the inside track to the third receiver role, but has yet to establish himself as more than an upside player. Garcon could take the job, but will probably also handle return duties, so the Indianapolis coaches may not want to put too much on the second-year player's plate.
If it can be argued that Hall and Garcon have secure roster spots, that still makes only five players — with none of them being particularly distinguished — fighting for two roster spots.
Since there is no guarantee that anyone outside Wayne and Gonzalez have any real job security, that means there are seven men fighting for four spots, which somehow seems to be better odds for Matthews and McDermott.
Ultimately it is up to them to separate themselves from the pack, even if the pack is not particularly distinguished. Provided that McDermott taps his potential in the slot, he has the best chance of any of the three players discussed to make the team.
However, out of nine receivers currently on the 88 man roster, seven are six feet tall (McDermott included), one is 5-feet-11 (Giguere), and one is 6-feet-3 (Hall), so McDermott will need to work that much harder to make sure he does not get lost in the shuffle.
With Robinson, Clark, Tamme, and Tom Santi already on the roster, Cloherty's only real shot is to slide into the vacant H-back/fullback role and hang on.In addition, he faces competition from Jamie Petrowski and Justin Snow, who is a long snapper by trade but a tight end in a pinch. The odds are too stacked against him. He needs to adapt or be cut.
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