INDIANAPOLIS —Mike Derice, an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts who focuses on the Northeast Region, talked to reporters following the 2018 NFL Draft about what he saw in defensive end Kemoko Turay, the Colts' second-round (52nd-overall) pick this year:
What did you see in Kemoko Turay?
"Kemoko Turay — he had rare athletic traits for an outside linebacker/defensive end, and the way he rushed the passer without really having complete knowledge of what he was doing, I thought, 'Hey, get this guy with some good coaching ... and guys that he wants to follow, the upside would be tremendous with a kid like that.' One year of high school football where he had 19 sacks as a senior; he was a basketball player growing up, and track athlete. He's from Africa; I think came to the United States in 2000. So he really had limited experience. He had a great freshman year at Rutgers as a DPR — designated pass rusher — and then his sophomore and junior year he was in and out with some injuries, so you never really got a chance to see him develop. And then his senior year, although the numbers didn't show from a stats standpoint, you could see that there were traits that said, 'OK, this can translate to something special if honed in the right way.'"
How much of a jump does Turay have to make to the NFL? How raw is he?
"He's not as raw as you think — or at least I thought. So someone put out an interesting stat in the building. We had (Director of Pro Personnel) Kevin Rogers and (Manager of Football Research & Strategy) John Park, who put out a tremendous stat, because what I thought was that Kemoko was a natural pass rusher; just didn't have refined skills. And I know the stat numbers pretty well. So what we did is we looked at all the top pass rushers in this draft — (Bradley) Chubb, (Marcus) Davenport, (Harold) Landry — compared with Kemoko, the amount of times they rushed the passer, the amount of times they affected the quarterback whether by sack, hurries or hits, OK? Kemoko rushed the passer — throughout his career, four years — Kemoko rushed the passer half as many times as all the other guys. Everyone was around 1,000 rushes, right? Kemoko was like 550. The amount of times that Kemoko hurried the quarterback? Was close to the guys who had 500 more rushes. Hits, was more than the other guys. … The total number. So, for example, in regards to pressures, so hits on a quarterback, Kemoko was 24, Landry was 21, right? Career. Hits on quarterbacks. Chubb was 33. Davenport was 24; so they were tied. Sacks was obviously less — (Turay) had less sacks than everyone else. Pressures, he was less, but he was 110, Landry was 138, 144. And then the percentages, (Turay) topped all in regards to percentages. So he affected the game in more than one way, but he got to the quarterback. So if we could find a way to seal the deal, then we may have a guy who could be a very productive pass rusher. That's the hope. So you tie all that stuff in together — with what you see on tape, the way he looked at the Senior Bowl — you just feel it. Sometimes you can feel it, and sometimes guys like that do see upside. That's what I kind of look for in certain players."
You mentioned he was a designated pass rusher at first. Does he have to take that same path here, at least initially?
"Not in this particular defense. I think he'll be OK. With him, in particular, when he first got to Rutgers where he had the production, he was 210-pound defensive end. Came in as an outside linebacker — stand-up outside linebacker — they pushed him down and said, 'Hey, you know what? You don't know too much about football. Just rush the passer.' That was his trait. And then his sophomore year they tried to give him more; he steadily gained weight. This year he played at 255, which was encouraging to see. So he can carry 255 pretty well."