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Is Rookie Cornerback Nate Hairston Primed For Early Playing Time?

Intro: After taking one cornerback in the previous five drafts, the Colts selected two corners in 2017. What are the Colts getting in Temple cornerback Nate Hairston?


INDIANAPOLIS – At first, Nate Hairston thought it was a joke.

During his first three years as a wide receiver at Temple, Hairston would hear it from his coaches.

You'd be a good DB, you'd be a good DB.

Going into the 2015 spring, the days of joking with Hairston were over.

Initial skepticism crept in for Hairston, after he was permanently moved to the defensive side of the ball.

But a visit from Jets head coach Todd Bowles (who played at Temple) eliminated any doubts that might have been previously present.

"(Bowles) told me after (a 2015) practice, 'Man, I think that if you continue playing corner, you'll be an NFL prospect.' Once I heard that from a head coach, I was 100 percent in," Hairston says of Bowles, a long-time defensive coach in the NFL.

"It was definitely eye opening. I think before he said that, I was kind of doing it just to make my coaches happy. I was just doing it. I wasn't really enthused about it. But once I heard that from him, I was completely 100 percent bought in and I gave 100 percent effort and 100 percent into learning how to play the position, so I thank him for that."

Two years later, Hairston was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 Draft, after he allowed no touchdowns in 36 targets during his final season at Temple.

When the Colts took a closer look at Hairston, they saw an instinctive corner that can definitely contribute on special teams.

Hairston moved around the cornerback position in his two years of playing at Temple, seeing time on the outside and in a nickel role.

"What makes him special is his mindset," area scout Mike Derice said after the Colts took Hairston with the 158th overall pick. "He's a guy that is a grinder. He approaches everything like he has a chip on his shoulder.

"Wherever we think his ceiling is, he can go higher than that."

Even though the Colts threw out "special teams" as the early home for Hairston, there will be chances to crack the lineup at corner as well.

The Colts currently lack a definite picture of how the cornerback reps will be divided up after Vontae Davis (and Quincy Wilson, the team's second-round pick).

Hairston has taken notice of the potential for playing time as a rookie.

"I definitely see the need there at cornerback and I'm happy that they chose me to help them in that area," Hairston says.

"I'm ready to get to it."

Nate Hairston - Round Five - Pick 158 - Corner Back - Temple

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