The Colts’ draft plan was to bring in a bunch of defensive guys. The only true linebacker they drafted had some off the field issues in college, but was worth the risk.
E.J. Speed was the second of two fifth round picks by the Colts in April. He was taken as a linebacker out of Tarelton State. He has a large amount of athleticism, but he had an off the field issue that made him slide down draft boards.
As a senior, he was arrested as part of a credit card fraud scandal. Eventually, the charges were dismissed and he was allowed to continue to play. Chris Ballard said they did their due diligence and were comfortable taking the linebacker based on their findings.
As a rookie, Speed showed some flashes of his great athleticism. He only played in 12 games and most of his time on the field was on special teams. In fact, he only played one game on defense, and that was against Oakland. In that game though he had 6 tackles and one tackle for loss.
Being a fifth round pick, Speed likely knew that special teams were going to be the way to the field. That ended up being true, although he would be a good fill-in if there was an injury at linebacker. He has showed good lateral quickness and can chase down running backs.
It’s unlikely that Speed becomes a starter anytime soon. He is way down the depth chart at linebacker, sitting behind Bobby Okereke and Matthew Adams. But he is a hard worker, so there will always be a place on the Colts’ roster for players like that.