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INDIANAPOLIS — Today, we move on to the third round of the draft to explore which players may be available as options for the Indianapolis Colts.
These aren’t the only good options that may be available to the Colts — unexpected players slide every year — but these players are those that I’ve weighed the likelihood of being available along with what position groups Indianapolis may need most, and how these players specifically fit what the Colts normally look for. There are also players that teams will sometimes bend their positional standards to accommodate if they feel that player is special.
*The following players are listed alphabetically.
Ben Banogu | Edge Defender | TCU
We presented TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier as a second-round option, and now we take a look at his bookend on the line in Banogu. The latter is the more athletic of the two, as Banogu put up an elite athletic profile this offseason in preparation for the draft. After transferring to TCU in 2017, he put up really quality marks with 32.5 tackles for loss and 17.0 sacks in his two seasons. As a potential pro, he is not yet the sum of his parts. You can see his agility when he puts the moves on blockers, but he has not yet tapped his potential as a speed edge rusher.
Yodney Cajuste | Offensive Tackle | West Virginia
Cajuste would have been a second-round option if not for having to recently undergo surgery on a quad muscle, which is expected to set him back a few months. As a player, he is still a little raw as he currently lacks the technique you'd be looking for in a starting tackle, but you can see there's quickness, size and strength to work with. Injuries are a concern, unfortunately, as his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons ended prematurely due to knee injuries, and now there's this quad injury. The third round now seems more appropriate due to these flags.
Blake Cashman | Linebacker | Minnesota
Cashman wasn't spoken much about until after the Combine, but those of us that were late to the party were pleasantly surprised. He's an alpha linebacker who fits perfectly into today's modern linebacker mold. He’s a complete, three-down prospect who gives max effort, has a bunch of athleticism and is a tackling machine. His issues with tackling technique and identifying plays on misdirection/option and inside runs do appear to be coachable.
Michael Deiter | Offensive Lineman | Wisconsin
This is an incredibly seasoned player who has started 54-of-54 career games at left tackle, left guard and center. He is likely to stay inside in the pros, even saying as much during the Combine. His movement skills and adequate strength should allow him to fit in to any scheme quickly.
Damien Harris | Running Back | Alabama
Alabama's Josh Jacobs is most analysts' top running back prospect, but at one point his teammate was in the mix. Harris is a battering ram of a runner, but he also catches the ball naturally. If paired with a good offensive line, the team could dominate time of possession with his ability to break tackles and push piles forward. He is also a good blocker, so he is a very physical three-down back.
Trysten Hill | Defensive Tackle | UCF
Hill fits the Colts' attacking style of play along the defensive line, causing disruption for both quarterbacks and running backs. He put out some good tape in 2018 despite not jiving with UCF's new coaching staff and only starting one game during the season. With maturity, work ethic and camaraderie within the entire organization being pillars to the Colts, I imagine they've done their due diligence this offseason to see what went wrong.
Amani Hooker | Safety | Iowa
At 5-11, 210, Hooker has a nice frame that allows him to be physical without it taking much of a toll. He's a smart, tough safety prospect who is capable in coverage and can come downhill and lay a hit in the run game. At Iowa, he showed the versatility to be moved around the lineup. He tested well at the Combine in both explosion and change-of-direction drills.
Joe Jackson | Defensive Lineman | Miami
Jackson has a Colts-style frame at 6-4, 275. It's the type of frame they look for in players who are capable of playing strong-side end but who can also kick inside to tackle and provide some interior pass rush. He's more of a straight-line defensive lineman who causes disruption by putting his effort and power all on the man in front of him, but he's not your typical edge defender who's going to bend the edge and be a high-end sack producer.
Lonnie Johnson | Cornerback | Kentucky
Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was present at Kentucky's pro day, and although edge defender Josh Allen was who most were there to see, it's more likely that someone like Johnson is available to the Colts. Allen is a projected top-five pick, while defensive backs Johnson, Derrick Baity, Mike Edwards and Darius West are all much more likely options for the Colts later in the draft.
Johnson has great size and length with his measurements of 6-1, 213 and a 77-inch wingspan all ranking at least in the 80th percentile. However, he needs to tap into that size to be more physical and aggressive, of which he shows signs of being capable. His lack of deep speed and downfield awareness makes him a little better fit in a zone system.
Dawson Knox | Tight End | Ole Miss
We didn’t see what all Knox has to offer after having to compete for targets with D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge at Ole Miss. He’s a well-rounded tight end who catches the ball well, runs crisp routes and is an adequate blocker. He does need to be coached up a little more in the blocking department, but it’s not a big red flag to his game currently.
Christian Miller | Edge Defender | Alabama
Miller is an ascending edge prospect without a ton of reps to his name. He has nice size and great length, speed and athleticism, and he might have the most bend of any edge in this class. Despite not having as many reps to his name, he uses his hands very well to get past blockers. He does, however, need to get better about freeing himself from blocks when he does engage.
David Montgomery | Running Back | Iowa State
Despite not testing well at the Combine, Montgomery is a perfect three-down back prospect capable of catching the ball and protecting the quarterback. He’s a methodical runner that could dominate a game from whistle to whistle with 35 touches. Minus the uber patience, I see a good amount of Le’Veon Bell in Montgomery’s running style.
Jachai Polite | Edge Defender | Florida
Polite has first-round tape but has had a Day 3 offseason. To put it nicely, he tested unexpectedly poorly at the Combine and his pro day, but he did say he'd been dealing with a hamstring injury. He also got flack at the Combine for telling the media he was uncomfortable in some team meetings because they were critiquing his game. Because of all that, who really knows what Polite's stock is at this point? However, if he's there in the third then you really have to take a hard look at it.
Polite was a 3-4 outside linebacker at Florida, but that doesn’t rule him out from being a 4-3 defensive end like he would be with the Colts. We saw Kemoko Turay make a similar switch, and the two are somewhat comparable as players. Polite’s game is built on speed and agility rather than power. He’s going to win with a dip and bend rather than a straight-arm or bull rush, and that could still work for him in the NFL. He’s a speed rusher, but he still plays smart and responsibly.
Riley Ridley | Wide Receiver | Georgia
The brother of 2018 Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Calvin Ridley, Riley is a crafty player who is a technician at the receiver position. He plays relatively fast on tape even though his 4.58 40 at the Combine refutes that to some extent. He has good hands, is one of the best route runners in this class and makes smooth cuts. Although he doesn’t have elite speed, he creates space with his route running.
Max Scharping | Offensive Tackle | Northern Illinois
For teams without an immediate need at tackle but would like depth, the third round is a good spot. Scharping is a solid, reliable tackle prospect who could feasibly move inside to guard, but doesn’t have much trouble on the edges. He moves well, but could stand to get a little stronger and hurry up to square-up defenders so he’s not having to come at them from an odd angle.