The Indianapolis Colts kept up their defensive focus in the fourth round, using their second pick of the round on an inside linebacker.
The Colts selected Florida inside linebacker Antonio Morrison with the 125th pick in the NFL draft. The team certainly has a need at this position with Jerrell Freeman leaving the team in free agency.
Morrison is tough, run stuffing linebacker who is excellent at beating blockers to make the stop. He is at his best when running between tackles and bringing power run plays to a halt. His limitations come in range vs the run from side to side and is more of a situational player in coverage. Morrison has some value as a blitzer.
While his tape may have a lot of flashy highlight, Morrison’s player grades don’t quite matchup. Here’s what Pro Football Focus said about him earlier in the year in a “Buyer Beware” piece:
"Morrison didn’t grade out much better than Jones did in 2015, ranking No. 127 of 145 qualifying linebackers. His only positive grade came as a rusher, and his 117.0 passer rating allowed was 27th-highest among LBs in this class. Morrison comes with the reputation of being able to deliver the big hit, but that didn’t translate into an ability to get opposing ball-carriers on the ground with consistency. He missed 12 tackles against opposing running games in 2015, giving him the fifth-worst tackling efficiency versus the run among this year’s inside linebacker class."
PFF’s grades aren’t the be-all end-all but it paints a picture of a player who has an undo reputation due to his highlight reel. Many scouts saw him as a top 50 pick if it weren’t for some concerns about his durability. Morrison also weighs 233 and needs to add weight, which could be an issue for a player with concerns about his speed.
The Colts are still in need of a playmaker on defense who can actually be a game changer. For them, that would be an EDGE rusher but this draft is light on those players and the Colts might find one before the draft ends.
We’ll have the next few picks for the Colts, so make sure to keep checking in for coverage and analysis.