When the Indianapolis Colts drafted two pass rushers in Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo with their first- and second-round picks, many felt that was the writing on the wall for former second-round pick Ben Banogu, who’s done a whole lot of nothing across his first two NFL seasons.
He’s yet to start a game, but in the 25 he’s appeared in, Banogu has only been able to record 2.5 sacks, 17 tackles and five QB hits. He didn’t suit up for multiple games in 2020 because he was unable to impress the coaching staff at practice.
That’s pretty much as bad as it gets. Indy used its No. 49 overall pick on the former TCU star back in 2019, but he’s seemingly been a square peg the Colts have been trying to shove into their round hole of a defensive system.
So many times we’ve heard about players requiring an endless motor to succeed in Matt Eberflus’ defense. On top of seemingly lacking the talent, it would appear Banogu isn’t able to make up for it with his effort. But could working out with DeForest Buckner save him?
Could DeForest Buckner help save Ben Banogu’s Colts’ career?
Here’s what Banogu told reporters at OTAs last week:
"“It was good. It wasn’t anything crazy. DeForest (Buckner) and I have worked together on the practice field here. It was easy for us to work together in the offseason. Working on our craft, fine tuning things, trying to get better, trying to learn new things about our game. It’s easier working with someone that you practice with and play with. Me, Buck and Tay (Taylor Stallworth) had a great time there. We felt like we got better. We wanted to take the things that we learned and got better at and put it into this fall camp and then going into the season.”"
This is very much a make-or-break season for Banogu. It’ll be his third in the league and he’ll need to make a serious impression to log significant reps in a crowded defensive end rotation, which now features new faces in Paye, Odeyingbo and Isaac Rochell. On top of that, Kemoko Turay will be (hopefully) fully back from his ankle injury, Tyquan Lewis figures to take over for the departed Denico Autry, and Al-Quadin Muhammad was re-signed for a year.
Those are multiple bodies who have proven their worth at the position. Banogu will have his work cut out for him.
However, training with one of the best defensive linemen in the game could do wonders for his technique, which is an obvious aspect of his game that’s been holding him back. Like we said, Banogu’s speed and athleticism translate to the next level, but there’s much more development that needs to happen to help him improve upon his raw talent.
Banogu is already on the outside looking in and will need an impressive training camp and preseason to preserve whatever standing he last left in the Colts’ defense. At least he’s going about it the right way, though, because there’s perhaps no better mind to pick than Buckner’s.