Colts General Manager Chris Ballard tends to draft 1-2 small school prospects every draft, as well as dip into the Senior Bowl pool of prospects. His smaller school (in the football sense) picks include:
- Grover Stewart, Albany State
- Marlon Mack, South Florida
- Shaquille Leonard, South Carolina State
- Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
- EJ Speed, Tarleton State
- Danny Pinter, Ball State
- Mike Strachan, Charleston
- Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
- Eric Johnson II, Missouri State
- Andrew Ogletree, Youngstown State
- Rodney Thomas II, Yale
- Titus Leo, Wagner
- Jake Witt, Northern Michigan
With such a long list with quite a few big hits, his deep scouting net should not be underrated. The likelihood of a small school prospect being drafted among the Colts 7 (for now) picks in 2024 is strong. As such, here are 7 smaller school Senior Bowl prospects to keep an eye on as possible future Colts.
Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
The absolute star of the Senior Bowl on Day 1 was Quinyon Mitchell, not to the surprise of The Blue Stable analysts Hunter Haas and Jay Robins. He dominated in reps against Brenden Rice, Jacob Cowling, Luke McCaffrey, and more. Whether it is 1 on 1s, 7 on 7s, or full scrimmage, Mitchell flashed bright. Sticky in coverage, great ball skills, and a strong frame paired with incredible athleticism.
Quinyon Mitchell Interview Part 1 Post Day 1 practice
Stock ⬆️ after a big performance today for the Toledo CB pic.twitter.com/ozjnLGfkND
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) January 30, 2024
The biggest knock on him heading into the Senior Bowl was that he was going up against MAC WRs, not SEC or BIG 10 WRs. So far he has certainly answered that and proven that his reputation as the top-graded CB since 2022 is not unwarranted. Should he continue to impress in the Senior Bowl week and light up the combine (which he should as a Feldman Freak), the Toledo CB is going to be a very tempting player for Ballard to take in Round 1.
Ryan Flournoy, WR, Southeast Missouri
Every year there is a prospect from a school that only the most die-hard draft degenerates research for the draft. That prospect potentially gets an invite to the Senior Bowl or Combine and impresses, forcing tons of analysts to try to research who he is and where he comes from. I might have gotten a small head start on the crowd, but after Flournoy’s impressive Day 1 of the Senior Bowl, he is flying under a lot less radars.
Remember when I said to keep an eye on Flournoy…
Consider those eyes open after a strong 1st day at the Senior Bowl. Some buzz from scouts and media about how impressive he was Day 1.
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) January 31, 2024
Who is Ryan Flournoy? He is a 6’1 200lb WR from SEMO in the FCS level of football. He received 0 FBS offers out of High School, but over the last 2 years has flashed as one of the best athletes in college. A hands catcher with a strong deep ball and YAC profile versus his FCS competition, Flournoy had a great showing. Displaying track speed, reliable hands, and constant separation while also adding some tenacity as a run blocker? Ballard likey.
Dylan Laube, RB/FB/Returner, New Hampshire
The fullback is a dying breed in the NFL, but Laube is bringing it back! While the Colts don’t run sets with a true Fullback (see LB Zaire Franklin in at FB 2x this season) and have tons of depth at TE, Laube’s versatility will increase his potential landing spots.
Honestly, there is little Laube can’t do. His route running and YAC out of the backfield are strong. He has power in his blocking to help spring RBs or protect the QB. He beat Linebackers to the corner several times with his speed. A strong athlete who can be a running back instead, or even be used as a returner.
Is Dylan Laube the best route runner of all the 2024 #NFLDraft RBs?
— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) February 1, 2024
In talking with several scouts at the Senior Bowl, one remarked “He is like the lovechild of Danny Woodhead and Kyle Juszczyk”. A weird combination for sure, but hard not to see it once mentioned. Whether it is with a team running a West Coast-style offense or not, Laube is set to hear his name called sometime on Day 3 of the Draft.
Rasheen Ali, RB, Marshall
On Day 1 of the Senior Bowl, the star of the RBs was Rasheen Ali out of Marshall. Immediately he came across as a speed demon, hitting the outside zone and screens with a ton of juice. The shiftiness and extra gear were fun to watch while being able to get low and fall forward for more yards often. Ali has had some good pass pro reps as well in the Senior Bowl, displaying a 3 down back skillset despite getting labeled by some as a receiving change of pace back.
Marshall RB Rasheen Ali, who impressed early in Senior Bowl practices, suffered a ruptured biceps tendon that will require surgery, per sources.
Ali faces a four- to six-month recovery. He should be ready for the 2024 season. pic.twitter.com/KIJ7M3BcyF
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 1, 2024
Unfortunately, Ali’s positive momentum took a sizable dent, as news broke on the final day of practices that he ruptured his biceps. It’ll likely require a 4-6 month injury recovery time according to reports, which thus ends his predraft process on the field. However, that timeline does mean he should be good to go sometime in training camp or preseason. After his initial performance at the Senior Bowl, he could hear his name called despite this setback.
Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy
The final small school Senior Bowl back is a bit different, as he is more of a power back than Laube or Ali. He can be used as a receiver but isn’t as proficient in that regard. This doesn’t mean that Vidal has limited 3rd down uses, as what truly pops up beyond his run style is his pass protection. Vidal plays with a vicious and powerful tone-setting pass-pro ability that is sure to make any QB in the pocket feel very safe. Taking on Safeties and LBs with ease while also being a devastating chip blocker if need be on penetrating DL, Vidal is fun to watch even without the ball.
Kimani Vidal likes to attack in pass pro, he is willing to get in the mud. pic.twitter.com/VAF9GZVeW2
— BOLTS Draft Talk (@BoltsDraftTalk) January 27, 2024
As Bill Carroll, the Director of HBCU Scouting for CDS Draft told me:
“In a Draft Class with Frank Gore Jr., Kimani Vidal reminds me the most of Frank Gore Sr.”
While he might not have true breakaway speed, Vidal is a constant churner of 5-8 yard runs with strong power, vision, and initial acceleration. He is seemingly always able to churn extra yards after the tackle, dragging defenders forward for stronger gains than expected. If the Colts want to add an extra power back behind Jonathan Taylor with both Moss and Sermon as Free Agents, then Vidal makes sense.
Luke McCaffrey, WR, Rice
Here’s a familiar name. NFL bloodlines run strong in this draft class, and Luke McCaffrey has a ton of athletic talent in his. From his Olympic grandfather, his track star mom, his NFL veteran dad, his Offensive Player of the Year brother, his former NFL player turned Dolphins assistant coach brother, and his current NCAA QB brother, the McCaffrey family knows how to become top-level competition athletes.
— Steph Sanchez (@Steph49K) January 31, 2024
Luke is a former QB turned WR like his dad, and had he embraced the change sooner he might have been rated higher in this class. McCaffrey is still learning how to use his body like a WR, but his hands are well-developed and his Yards after the catch are solid. He is a very smart WR in picking apart zones with his QB background and has found the soft areas of the coverage routinely in Mobile. While his route running needs work, he is a very good athlete from a family known for his hard work ethic.
If a team is patient with McCaffrey, he will turn into a really solid WR for a team’s depth chart.
Carter Bradley, QB, South Alabama
The final small school prospect is the only one to be playing on his home turf at the Senior Bowl: Carter Bradley. The son of Colts DC Gus Bradley, Carter turned heads on day 2 with surprising ball velocity to fit some precise throws in tight windows on 7 on 7s and 11 on 11s.
Hometown QB prospect Carter Bradley (South Alabama) rips a seam throw to Texas A&M WR Ainias Smith for a score during 7-on-7s. pic.twitter.com/wnWbRdgOfY
— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) January 31, 2024
A smart QB with good decision-making, Bradley did well enough to warrant a closer look on Day 3 in the draft. With the familial connection, there is a chance Gus could advocate for the Colts to take him in Rounds 6-7, or as a priority undrafted free agent. If Gardner Minshew is not retained this offseason, extra competition to backup Anthony Richardson will be important to find at some point. Perhaps Bradley could earn either the QB2/3 job (QB3 doesn’t count against the roster). Imagining him and his dad trying to one-up each other in practice is an entertaining thought alone.
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