The NFL Draft kicks off Thursday night Malik Hooker Jersey
, which means the Indianapolis Colts will soon be on the clock, and the league’s version of "Christmas Morning" is nearly upon us. Armed with the 26th, 34th,..."5. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple The 6’0”, 190 pound senior cornerback had 47 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 12 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions in 12 games for the Temple Owls—earning First-Team All-AAC honors. Not to mention, he has an epic football name. Ya-Sin ran a 4.51 forty time at the NFL Combine to go along with an impressive 39.5 inch vertical. He’s still a bit raw at the position, but he has the sculpted size, athleticism, and length (32” arms) to eventually become an impact starting press cornerback. It also helps that he plays with nice physicality in coverage and is a willing defender in run support—demonstrating his competitiveness at cornerback. That being said, his technique and footwork could use some refinement, and he doesn’t have great long speed—making him potentially scheme dependent. Having already selected another Owls’ cornerback, Nate Hairston, could Ballard go back to the nest one more time—only this time for a defensive back with more upside? Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports4. Deandre Baker, CB, GeorgiaAt 5’11, 193 pounds, the senior cornerback recorded 40 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 9 passes defensed Andrew Luck Jersey White
, and 2 interceptions in 12 games for the Bulldogs. Baker earned AP First-Team All-American and 1st-Team All-SEC honors, and he also was the recipient of the Jim Thorpe Award—which is awarded annually to the top defensive back in college football. He ran a 4.52 forty time at the NFL Combine. Baker is highly regarded for his press coverage, as well as his competitiveness, toughness, and consistency. He shows impressive ball skills and good anticipation on routes. However, given his lack of size and 2nd gear of speed, he might be best suited as a zone cornerback at the next level—which might be music to Matt Eberflus’ ears. He’ll have to get stronger at the pro ranks, but having someone like Malik Hooker backing him up could help his long-term success too. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images3. Julian Love, CB, Notre DameThe 5’11”, 193 pound junior cornerback for the Fighting Irish had 63 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries (1 for a touchdown), 16 passes defensed, and an interception in 13 games—earning AP First-Team All-American honors. He ran a 4.54 forty time at the NFL combine with a vertical jump of 36.0 inches. Love is exceptional as a coverage corner, possessing excellent instincts, ball skills, and a high football I.Q. He is technically sound in coverage and has great anticipation on routes, as indicated by his 16 passes defensed in 2018. That being said, like Baker, he lacks great deep speed and might be best suited as a zone cornerback with safety help over the top. He also will need to get stronger and improve his overall physicality at the next level.Ballard ‘struck gold’ with Love’s former teammate Quenton Nelson in last year’s draft, for an ideal zone cornerback fit in Matt Eberflus’ scheme, could he do it again? John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports2. Greedy Williams, CB Darius Leonard Jersey White
, LSUAt 6’2”, 185 pounds, Williams has the prototypical size that general managers covet at cornerback, as well as the production with 33 tackles, 9 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions in 11 games. Because of his exceptional play, he earned AP 2nd-Team All-American and 1st-Team All-SEC honors as a sophomore.Williams ran a blistering fast 4.37 forty time at the NFL Combine. The former Tigers cornerback uses excellent length to both slow down wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt receptions at the point of attack. In addition to his excellent speed, he looks fluid covering routes and shows impressive agility in his change-of-direction ability. However, where he can get into problems, is that bigger, more physical wide receivers can beat his jam quickly, and he can struggle in coverage when playing from behind on routes. His help in run support and overall toughness could improve as well. Like the Colts very own Pierre Desir, Williams has the length and athleticism that have proven to work well in Eberflus’ system. It’s just a matter of whether he can play tough enough in run support for a defensive scheme that requires its cornerbacks to tackle. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports1. Byron Murphy, CB, WashingtonAt 5’11”, 190 pounds, the Huskies sophomore standout recorded 58 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 13 passes defensed, and four interceptions (1 for a touchdown) in 14 games—earning AP 2nd-Team All-American and 1st-Team All-Pac 12 honors respectively. During the NFL Combine, Murphy ran a 4.55 forty time and had a vertical jump of 36.5 inches.Murphy is a very instinctive cornerback with a high football IQ, who has excellent ball skills.He’s willing to mix it up in run support and close down hard on a receiver in space—showing excellent toughness and fight.While he’s not a great athlete and lacks deep speed, he makes up for it with the other exceptional areas of his overall game. He seems like an ideal fit in Matt Eberflus’ ‘Cover 2’ defensive scheme with his instinctive and ball-hawking play (yet a need to have some safety help behind him). However, like Williams before him Peyton Manning Jersey
, it’s a fair question of whether cornerback is that great of a need in Round 1, where he’ll likely be selected. Well, I woke up this morning and checked to be sure, but yesterday’s awful performance wasn’t a nightmare. The Colts really did get shut out by the Jaguars to lose 6-0 in a game they absolutely had to win. The offense was bad in every phase, and the coaching left a great deal to be desired as well. I don’t have near enough space to detail all the losers as thoroughly as we probably should, and I’m not sure I have the energy either. As you might expect, this isn’t going to be a very pretty column, so let’s just get into it so I can get all this toxin out of me and never think about this game again.WinnersDenico AutryReinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsTalk about a game. Denico Autry came to play, even if almost no one else did. He put up a monster defensive performance, notching 3 sacks, 7 tackles, 4 QB hits, and 2 forced fumbles. He has 6 sacks for the season, despite dealing with injuries that have sidelined him or altered his ability to play at his best for a bit of this season. Considering that Autry was signed as a virtual nobody from Oakland, his impact on the team has been a significant one that is worth recognizing. Autry is a young guy who fits perfectly inside this Colts defensive scheme. Props to him for playing hard in this game.Honorable Mentions: Jabaal Sheard, Matthew AdamsLosersFrank ReichReinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsThis was Frank Reich’s worst game as a head coach. As the primary offensive play caller, Reich was unable to make the necessary adjustments to deal with Jacksonville’s excellent coverage, and seemed to struggle to dial up plays to get his receivers open. The Colts ran the ball just 6 times on first down, opting to pass instead. In theory that had worked against the Jaguars the last time, so it could again. However, in practice it was a miserable failure. Starting out the game that way would have made sense given their success last time with the pass. However, once they saw that it wasn’t effective and that the game was close, it seems like calling a more balanced and less predictable offense would have made more sense. Reich’s worst calls were in the second quarter when he went for it two different times on 4th and 1. Both attempts failed, and both came well within field goal range. I am all for being aggressive and trying to score touchdowns instead of field goals, but we were not facing the Saints Darius Leonard Jersey
, where you have to score on every drive to even have a prayer. This was the Cody Kessler-led Jaguars. Priority 1 should have been to put points on the board. Getting a lead would have created more urgency by the Jaguars offense, which was being thoroughly outplayed by our defense. Additionally, as we would see, those two field goals would have kept the game at a tie, and the 3rd failed attempt to convert the 4th down in the 2nd half would have provided an opportunity for a 3rd field goal which could have won the game. This was simply poor play callingTo top it all off, the clock at the end of the game was managed poorly, with the team getting back to the line to go very slowly, as well as running a ton of time off the clock before eventually taking a time out. The end result was that the team ran out of time while driving to attempt to score. It was a bad showing, and a moment to remind ourselves that Frank Reich is doing this for the very first time. For a rookie head coach, he has been remarkably good, but he wasn’t today. I don’t anticipate having to write about Frank Reich being a loser very often.Anthony CastonzoPhoto by Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCastonzo is not alone in getting abused by the Jaguars’ defensive line, but as the most tenured, highest paid, and ostensibly best offensive lineman on the team, he has to be better. He consistently struggled to deal with what was being thrown at him by the Jags and did not put up nearly the kind of performance we’ve expected from him through this season. The real killer was late in the game when Castonzo blocks down on Calais Campbell and lets Ronnie Harrison get a free hit on Luck when they absolutely have to have a 4th down conversion with 2:34 left in the 4th quarter.We know what this line is capable of, and the Jaguars defense that showed up today is the one that took this team to the AFC Championship game last season. You can’t sleepwalk through a game against these guys, and that is what it looked like Castonzo was doing.Ryan GrantDouglas DeFelice-USA TODAY SportsI gave credit to Denico Autry for the job he did, so another one of Chris Ballard’s offseason acquisition deserves credit for his work too. Ryan Grant, the guy who was supposed to be able to provide a number 2 to Hilton’s 1, was a complete non-factor today. He was targeted twice, with one being an egregious drop. The consistent inability of Grant, or really anyone, to get open was a major factor in getting Andrew Luck hit. When Grant was open, he dropped the ball that came his way. Not the kind of contribution the Colts needed.Dontrelle InmanDouglas DeFelice-USA TODAY SportsWhile Inman has been a solid pickup and contributed reasonably well this season, he was Malik Hooker Jersey White
, like Grant, largely not a factor in this game. He was targeted 6 times for just 2 catches and 14 yards. However, it was one of those missed targets that really hurt. On 3rd and 9 from their own 45-yard line, the Colts had an opportunity to get the kind of chunk play they couldn’t all game. Despite pressure, Luck hung in there and aired one out to Inman for what would have been a huge gain. For whatever reason, Inman turned his body the wrong way, and couldn’t get flipped back around right, so instead of the Colts getting a big play to put them in the red zone, they punted. The Officiating CrewLook, I know that complaining about the refs is something most every fan base does, and it is worst after a loss, but this was one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve seen in a long time, and it wasn’t biased to one side or the other, it was bad all around. They missed obvious calls, like when they called T.Y.’s clearly incomplete ball a catch, and they made bad calls frequently, like the roughing the passer call against Matthew Adams who had a great sack in which he clearly used his shoulder to tackle a ducking Kessler. Their worst work was inserting themselves into the game’s finish and claiming that forward progress had stopped Erik Swoope as he was tackled out of bounds, which should have stopped the clock and give the Colts one more shot at the end zone before time expired. It was not only an incorrect call, but it robbed the Colts of that shot and of a better ending to a really lousy story. Don’t misunderstand me, the officials aren’t the reason the Colts lost this game. They provided more than enough of those to do that on their own. However, this crew shouldn’t be anywhere near an NFL field without a lot of improvement.