INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Mathis knows a thing or two about coming into the NFL as an unheralded draft pick and developing into a star pass rusher.
So when the Colts on Friday decided to select Rutgers edge rusher Kemoko Turay with the 52nd-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft — the team's third of what ended up being four second-round picks on the night — Mathis didn't quite take too kindly when fans went to social media to bemoan the acquisition.
"These comments are hilarious," Mathis wrote on Instagram. "This kid will be a star! (I've) been watching film on him for months now."
Mathis, now in his second season as a pass rush consultant on the Colts' coaching staff, now hopes to play a major role in the development of Turay, much in the same way Mathis blossomed after Indianapolis selected him in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Alabama A&M.
And with the Colts changing to a 4-3 defensive front — one that simplifies the approach and puts a premium on speed — Turay hopes to come in and compete for a spot right away along the edge, or even back at linebacker if need be.
"I'm going to bring everything," he told reporters Friday night in a conference call. "I'm a very flexible guy when it comes to talent. If they need me as a pass rusher or if they need me at end. If they need me as a pass dropper, everything. I'm bringing everything to my plate. I'm going to work on everything – a new craft and everything. I have a great support system that work on me."
At 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, Turay brings ideal size to develop as a defensive end, but he also has the speed general manager Chris Ballard covets, as he ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash in this year's NFL Scouting Combine.
At Rutgers, Turay did a bit of everything for the Scarlet Knights. His redshirt freshman season — one in which he'd earn Freshman All-American honors — featured 7.5 sacks, but also included a memorable blocked kick — he had an NCAA-best-tying three that year — against Michigan to help secure Rutgers' first-ever Big Ten Conference victory.
Turay had a career-high 65 tackles (seven for a loss) last season to go along with four sacks, while also forcing one fumble, recovering two others and collecting six QB hurries. In 44 career games, he logged 15.5 sacks.
Turay said he has a non-stop motor that is ideal for a 4-3 scheme that requires all defenders — including those up front — to sprint to the ball, even if it's in the secondary.
"I'm a hard worker, you know?" he said. "At Rutgers we've got that mindset [that] we don't stop until the whistle blew. Then I did that at the Senior Bowl, showing the coaches that I am all-go. So I am going to chase the ball 15 yards and make a play and help my corners, help my safeties and I'm going to do everything possible because I believe in winning."
2018 NFL Draft - 2nd Round 52nd Overall - KEMOKO TURAY