Colts Rookie Safety David Caldwell Liking Free Agent Opunity
INDIANAPOLIS – David Caldwell made his decision late in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Which was why the safety from William & Mary watched the final selections of the April 22-24 Draft with a particularly keen interest.
He knew the Colts liked him, and he knew he liked the Colts' situation.
So, Caldwell said he spent the final moments of the draft hoping that nothing changed, that the Colts would not select a safety. And while he had hoped to get drafted, he said by the end of the draft he sort of realized it might be OK if he didn't.
In the end, Caldwell got his wish.
And for that, he said he is very, very pleased.
"I was cool with the situation," said Caldwell, who signed with the Colts as a collegiate free agent shortly after the draft. "To me, late rounds, or picked up as a free agent – it's all a tryout.
"I definitely felt like this was the right situation for me."
That Caldwell was available after the draft surprised some observers.
Caldwell (5-feet-11, 212 pounds), a three-year starter in college, spent his first season at William & Mary as a backup cornerback before moving to safety. There, he developed into a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection as a senior. He entered the draft projected by many analysts as a late-round selection.
"He is reliable," William & Mary Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach Bob Shoop told the Newark Star-Ledger last December. "He rarely, if ever, misses practice. He's smart. He's a sure tackler.
"He has a good grasp of the defense and how his role fits into the framework of things."
It took a bit of time for Caldwell to learn that role.
And actually, it took Caldwell a bit of time early on to get used to being at college.
Caldwell, the great-nephew of Hall of Fame baseball player Larry Doby – the second African-American to play in the Major Leagues – spent a year at the Lawrenceville School after graduating from Montclair (N.J.) High School in 2005.
His mother, Karen Caldwell, told the Star-Ledger her son missed home, and that after football season, she drove him home each weekend. That, she told the Star-Ledger, was why he chose William & Mary.
"It was important that he not go to college that was too close," she said in December.
The transition was difficult at first. Caldwell told the paper that as a freshman in training camp, he called home often.
"Football in college turns into a business," he told the Star-Ledger. "If it surprises you, it can really overwhelm you. And I was just nervous from being away from home."
Those nerves subsided with time, and Caldwell lettered four seasons at William & Mary, starting 37 of 47 career games. He finished his career with 280 tackles.
He had 58 tackles as a senior, also finishing with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He started 11 games as a junior and 11 as a sophomore, leading the team with 107 tackles as a sophomore.
Caldwell also performed well in the pre-draft period, particularly at his Pro Day, when he registered a 39.5 vertical jump.
As the draft approached, then arrived, then concluded, Caldwell saw his immediate NFL future would come via the free agency route. His knowledge of the Colts' success in the area of adding undrafted free agents and plugging in young players helped ease the process.
The Colts have a history of not only having late-round free-agent rookies make the team and have an impact on the roster, but having free agents do so at the safety position. While 2007 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders was a second-round selection, two-time Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea was a sixth-round selection in 2006.
Melvin Bullitt, who has started extensively in each of the last two seasons, made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2007, while Jamie Silva has played extensively on special teams and as a backup safety after making the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
"As the draft ended, I was almost like, 'OK, I have a perfect situation to go to," said Caldwell, who – like the eight-member draft class and the other collegiate free agents are scheduled to begin organized team activities with the Colts this week.
"They don't have too many safeties. They didn't pick up anybody, and the safeties they have, a bunch of them are free-agent and late-round guys. "They're just guys like myself who might have snuck in in the late rounds or as a free agent. They're out there trying to fight for a spot."