According to Senior Scout.com NFL Analyst Ed Thompson, the Colts recently met with Arizona outside linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka.
Tuihalamaka was a junior college transfer from Phoenix College and played only two seasons with the Wildcats before declaring for the NFL draft. During his two seasons with Arizona, he totaled 95 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, half a sack, a forced fumble, three passes defended, and an interception. The bulk of that production came last season, where he had 72 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, the interception, and all three passes defended.
Tuihalamaka, who measured in at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds at his Pro Day on March 12, could probably have used another season in the desert to refine his game. If he had posted fantastic workout numbers at his Pro Day, his prospects would have improved, but he ran a 4.7 second 40-yard dash, a 4.64 in the short shuttle, a 33.5 inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-4 inch broad jump, and only 18 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
When you couple lack of college experience with subpar workout numbers, it is easy to see why Tuihalamaka is not currently ranked among the top 41 outside linebacker prospects or the top 515 overall prospects in Scout.com's draft rankings. At this point, it would appear as though he is not on the radars of many NFL teams, even as an afterthought undrafted free agent.
The fact remains, though, that he has met with the Colts and they obviously have seen something in this young man that they like. According to Thompson, Tuihalamaka has also met with the Baltimore Ravens, which is another team that has a well-documented history of turning undrafted, so-called "scrubs" that no other team wanted into valued contributors.
There have certainly been players with less experience and worse workout numbers that emerged from the ranks of the undrafted and unwanted to become staples on their respective teams rosters.
Could Tuihalamaka make an impact with Indianapolis? The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, with an if.
If the Colts are able to coach Tuihalamaka up through OTAs, mini-camps, and training camp, then waive him and re-sign him if he doesn't show enough progress, then they will be able to place him on the practice squad, where he can continue to grow and develop. The stopwatch obviously does not tell the whole story when evaluating a player, but there is not a great deal of film on Tuihalamaka to determine whether or not he has the necessary skills, ability, and game speed to play linebacker at the next level. If nothing else, they would be able to keep him on hot standby just in case the injury bug bites the linebacking corps, which has tended to happen since the team went to the Cover 2 defense.
To say that Tuihalamaka has no chance to make the roster and contribute, at least on special teams in the coverage unit where competition is not exactly fierce, would be to count out a player that rose from the junior college ranks to play for a talented Arizona team at the highest level of NCAA competition. That assumption would underestimate the character of a man that has been a position where he had nothing to lose and proceeded to gain everything.
This is not to say that Tuihalamaka will rise to become the NFL's next star outside linebacker, but two highly regarded scouting programs have already used one of their precious player visits to evaluate him. There must be something there.
Where there is smoke, there is not always necessarily fire, but Tuihalamaka is at least worth a look as an undrafted free agent.
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