In the sixth round of the NFL Draft, you’re not likely to find many starting caliber players–at least for the long term. There are certainly exceptions, most notably a pick back in the 2000 NFL Draft when the New England Patriots selected Tom Brady 199th overall. Brady is the exception though, not the rule, and it’s tough for NFL teams to find guys who can even contribute on special teams for a few years with those sixth round picks.
That all being said, I don’t think the Colts have found the next “Tom Brady” in the 2013 NFL Draft, but they picked a guy by the name of John Boyett out of Oregon that I believe to be a heck of a football player, and a starting caliber safety in the NFL. The reason why Boyett fell to the sixth round is entirely because of injury, because when he was on the field, he was making plays all over it. Here is my pre-season report of Boyett going into last season:
One of the top returning safeties in the country, a guy who leads the secondary for the Ducks and racks up tackles like they’re going out of style. Last season, he had 108 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, an interception, and six passes broken up en route to being a first-team All-Pac 12 selection as a junior by Phil Steele, a second team All-Pac 12 selection by coaches, and an honorable mention All-American. One of the best defensive backs in the country and a leader of the Oregon secondary. As a sophomore in 2010, had 78 tackles and five interceptions and was selected as a second team All-American by SI.com. Needless to say, his career at Oregon has been very productive, and he’s led the team in tackles two out of the three years he has been there. Also a very valuable special teams player for the Ducks who blocked two kicks last year. A player who is always around the ball and always making plays. A solid athlete who looks like he could be a pretty good starting safety in the NFL.
Before Boyett’s 2012 season was cut short, he was off to a killer start with two tackles and an interception. The injuries he suffered were very severe, tearing both patellar tendons in his knees. Still, Boyett isn’t your average sixth round pick. This is an All-Pac 12, All-American safety who led the team in tackles as a freshman in 2009, as a junior in 2011 (108), and finished second by one tackle to Casey Matthews in 2010.
This is an extremely productive player who isn’t the greatest athlete, but he’s got range and instincts, and he finds ways to make plays. The Colts’ defensive backfield isn’t overly deep, at least with proven players at this point. Boyett has a chance to be #2 in line to start at safety behind Antoine Bethea, and possibly even behind LaRon Landry now that Joe Lefeged has gotten himself into such a mess.
The fact that the Colts decided Boyett was worth a sixth round pick is a good indication to me that his knee surgeries were successful and the Colts are comfortable with his progress. If Boyett can contribute as a rookie, it will initially be as a special teams player and rotational defensive back, but with the situation of Joe Lefeged right now, Boyett has a chance to be THE key backup at the safety position and make a name for himself.
Literally just one play away, just as some backup was last year at Oregon when the All-American went down with those devastating injuries. I think Boyett has a chance to be a special player, and if he can prove that his knees are back in shape, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy as one of the leaders of this team and a starting safety by 2014.