Indianapolis hosted cornerback/kick returner Ray Fisher on Monday, March 29th and Tuesday March 30th. Fisher played his college ball at Indiana, where he played his first three seasons as a wide receiver before being converted to cornerback for his senior season.
He appeared in 43 games in his four seasons with the Hoosiers, totaling 18 rushes for 98 yards, 118 receptions for 1,070 yards and nine touchdowns, 48 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two passes defended. He also returned 18 kickoffs for 650 yards — an impressive 36.1 yard average — and two touchdowns, as well as 17 punt returns for 165 yards for a 9.7 yard average.
The old adage that you take the best athletes that can't catch and put them on defense appears to be true in Fisher's case, as he posted an unofficial time of 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 38-inch vertical leap, and a 10-foot-2 inch broad jump at Indiana's Pro Day. He adjusted well to his new position, starting six games in 2009 before a knee injury ended his season.
The knee appears to be healed — his visit with the Colts included a thorough physical exam — and his numbers at his Pro Day back that assumption up, as he would not have been able to perform that well if his knee was still bothering him. If his knee is still bothering him and he was still able to perform at that level, then watch out, because he would then be the steal of the second day.
At 5-foot-8 and 171 pounds, he is about the same size as former Colts return specialist and cornerback TJ Rushing, though Rushing saw little action on defense. As an undersized player with injury concerns that doesn't have a natural position, Fisher raises just about every pre-draft flag that NFL teams have. He doesn't have any known character concerns, so that is a plus.
Given all the factors working against him, Fisher most likely will not be drafted, but the Colts have a long and distinguished history of turning undrafted players into key contributors.
When asked to assess Fisher, NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber had this to say: "He's been a productive player, but he's a major tweener who doesn't have a specific position. He could probably have an impact on special teams at the next level. He could get looks as a slot receiver or a nickel corner, depending on what a team has planned for him. He has versatility and that will help him, but I don't see him being drafted. However, he will be in a camp this summer."
Though he probably would have a tough time playing in the slot for the Colts given their crowded depth chart, Indianapolis could certainly use someone that could contribute on special teams, both in the return game and on coverage units. With his athleticism, Fisher would make an ideal gunner and doesn't exactly face stiff competition for the return specialist job.
If Steuber's prediction is correct — and his predictions usually are — then Fisher may as well end up with the Colts at camp this summer.
Since he is currently not ranked among the top 46 cornerback prospects or the top 515 prospects overall by Scout.com, it would not make sense for Indianapolis to use one of their two compensatory selections in the seventh round to pick Fisher, but they have most likely targeted him as a priority free agent and should be able to acquire his services. His athleticism will be very valuable in the kicking game and the fact that he was able to switch positions so quickly and effectively shows that he is coachable.
He does have a number of red flags, but he also possesses a number of key attributes that the Colts have been able to harness in the past to develop quality role players. He does not have star potential, but Indianapolis does not need stars on special teams at this point, they just need someone that is better than the status quo. Fisher fits that bill.
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