INDIANAPOLIS — "I'm our generation of Von Miller."
That was Indianapolis Colts rookie defensive end Kemoko Turay the very first time he spoke with the Indianapolis media.
After being drafted in the second round, 52nd overall, Turay was ready to show the world what he's got.
Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is widely regarded as the top pass rusher in the NFL and has been considered as such since early in his career. Turay has admired from afar, even patterning his gamer after Miller's:
"I patent my game (after Miller's) because he wears 58 and when I was playing football I didn't have my bend and I realized he had a good bend. I constantly kept working on my bend and my flexibility and before – when I started playing – I just had straight speed and I was long arming. Watching Von Miller – it started with JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] – when I started watching Von Miller and I started appreciating my number and I haven't wanted to change my number since then."
Patterning your game after Miller's means blending raw athletic gifts like speed and agility with technique, and Turay — who has since had to settle for No. 57 with the Colts — appears ready to get to work on just that.
He was one of the more athletic edge defenders at the Combine and the Senior Bowl, but there is work to be done when it comes to unlocking Turay's potential. After day two of the draft, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Turay "looked like the freaking best pass rusher at the game," but that Turay "needs work, there is no doubt."
Ballard continued: "I'm telling you, Turay would have come off the board pretty quickly. He's got some unique traits. He's long. He's got a great first step. It's hard. I'm excited to watch him get in a three-point [stance]."
Turay wasn't the only one to draw comparisons of him to Miller either, though.
"There are not many guys in this league that can get off the ball like he can get off the ball out of a two-point stance," Ballard said. "Von Miller can, and I'm not saying he's Von Miller, but he's got a unique trait. He's got speed. He's got bend. He's an athlete and we think he's got great upside."
Having one of the NFL's all-time great pass rushers on the coaching staff in Robert Mathis assisting defensive line coach Mike Phair also certainly helps Turay's development.
It's great for a player to have potential leading up to the draft, but then they actually have to show it once they get onto the practice field. So far, so good according to Colts head coach Frank Reich.
"I think all the players obviously need to grow, but as an offensive coach and as a former quarterback, you think you have a little bit of an eye for guys who can come off the edge," Reich said during rookie minicamp. "And that definitely flashed yesterday, not only on what you saw on the field but we take numbers and measurements on things. I won't go into the details but I will just say this, his numbers were very good yesterday."
Now Turay faces his first NFL training camp, where the pads will come on for the first time — as early as the team's third camp practice. It'll be the next step in his progression, as well as a terrific evaluation opportunity for the coaching staff.
But Turay remains confident in his abilities, and in his potential — and he hopes to be able to confirm his team's confidence in him sooner rather than later.
"I'm with the Indianapolis Colts now and being with the coaches and taking coaching and listening to them and following directions, I know I am going to be the best in the league."