Colts Cornerback Brandon King Knows He'll Get Fair Chance in Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – As would any rookie, Brandon King wanted to get drafted.
But King, a cornerback, played at Purdue University, which is close enough to the Colts that he had a strong knowledge of the organization and particularly, its approach to players signed out of college who go undrafted.
Gary Brackett. Jacob Lacey.
Melvin Bullitt. Eric Foster.
Dominic Rhodes. Josh Thomas.
The first four are currently on the roster; the next two had long, solid careers with the team. They are just six of many such examples of collegiate free agents who have started and played critical roles for the Colts during their recent run of an NFL-high eight post-season appearances.
Around the Colts, a player is a player. Draft status has no merit on making the team.
And King said because of that, while he would have loved to have been drafted, he had pretty much the same enthusiasm approaching the NFL as if he had heard his named called on the weekend of April 22-24.
"I never thought I'd be here," said King, a collegiate free-agent signee by the Colts shortly after the 2010 NFL Draft and one of multiple rookies who will be profiled on Colts.com in the coming weeks.
"I never in a million years thought I'd be with the Colts, but I signed with them and I was just as excited as getting drafted because I know the Colts' history with Gary and Jacob Lacey."
King (5-feet-10, 194 pounds), who started 35 of 46 games at Purdue, had a solid career with the Boilermakers, finishing his career with 126 tackles and starting his final three collegiate seasons.
He started 10 games this past season, during which he had 30 tackles, 25 solos, two tackles for losses and three interceptions.
But he said his Purdue career wasn't always easy.
After playing extensively as a freshman, then earning the team's Most Improved Player-Defense honor the following spring, he sat out his second season with academic issues, an experience he said was difficult and imant at the same time.
"I had kind of gotten my name out there, my foot in the door as a freshman, and that really sent me back a year," he told GoldandBlack.com recently. "But I kept my mouth shut and just kept working hard. I just had to go and get back to where I was and be even better than what I was."
King said the experience changed him, and was key to his development as a person and player.
"It made me mature fast," he said. "A lot of kids in my situation could have easily went home and went to another school. But I committed to Purdue and wanted to play there, so I stuck it out."
King returned and started 13 games as a sophomore, developing his game over the next three seasons enough that he was projected by many draft analysts as a potential-late round selection entering the draft. And while running a reported 4.53-second 40-yard dash might have dropped him in the eyes of some scouts, the Colts historically place a premium on the ability to perform on the field.
King, who describes himself as "an aggressive corner, a big hitter and a guy who makes play," said the Colts' recent history of on-field success was a major factor when deciding where he wanted to sign shortly after the draft.
"It was definitely part of the appeal," King said. "They win every year."
King said he also knew from friends such as former Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter – 2008 sixth-round selection and now the Colts' backup quarterback – Indianapolis' approach to late-drafted players and free agents.
"From playing with Curtis a couple of years ago, he taught me how they approach things," King said. "He came in as a sixth-round pick and had to make the team. Also, talking to Gary Brackett and a lot of guys who didn't get drafted, they've been very successful here – Jacob Lacey, too. It was kind of a no-brainer. I was like, 'Why not?' It was kind of a perfect situation."
King said knowing Painter, and having been around Indianapolis, has helped somewhat ease the early stages of the transition to the NFL.
"I knew quite a few guys, I'd played with Curtis and I knew some other guys being here in Indy," he told Colts.com. "A lot of guys come in nervous and don't feel at home. I kind of feel at home here. I've been watching these guys four or five years now."
King, like the rest of the Colts' free-agent rookies and the eight-member 2010 NFL Draft class, is scheduled to return to Indianapolis next week after spending the first weekend in May at the team's rookie mini-camp. That three-day event was to educate and acclimate the rookies, and King told GoldandBlack.com he was surprised at the similarities between the NFL and college.
"I thought it would be a totally different world, but it's pretty much the same game. Football is football.
Coming in, you don't know what to expect, but its just football. Now, it's about learning the technology and competing."
Still, whatever the differences, and however steep the learning curve, King said he knows from history – and from looking around at the names in the Colts' locker room – that when OTAs begin he is sure to get an equal opportunity. And that, he figures, is all he can ask.
"It doesn't matter what you play, as long as you can play football and you go in and give your best effort, they have a spot for you," he said.