AFC South: Donye' McCleskey

Ranking Colts' unknown corners

May, 26, 2010
5/26/10
11:12
AM ET
With third-round draft pick Kevin Thomas lost for 2010 due to a knee injury he suffered at an early rookie practice, cornerback depth is an issue for the Indianapolis Colts.

After Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey, the options are limited.

[+] EnlargeRay Fisher
AJ Mast/Icon SMISeventh-rounder Ray Fisher didn't play cornerback until his final year at Indiana.
Indianapolis drafted Ray Fisher in the seventh round, brought in six undrafted corners and has a leftover from the practice squad.

I asked Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. if he could tell us a bit about each of them so we might gain a better feel for who has a chance to emerge this year the way Lacey did in 2009.

Here’s what Muench said:
Ray Fisher (Indiana) -- Fisher is a developmental prospect who played receiver for the first three years of his career at Indiana and sustained a season-ending knee injury in his only season playing corner [last year]. It’s going to take him some time to pick up an Indianapolis scheme that’s been more creative under defensive coordinator Larry Coyer. So, as you point out, Fisher is going to make his biggest impact on special teams at least early on.

Here is how I would rank the rest of their options at corner at the back end of their roster. We don’t see any of them developing into quality starters but they are capable of providing adequate depth.

Brandon King (Purdue) -- King doesn’t have great man-to-man cover skills but he flashes the ability to reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage. In addition, it’s still a base Cover-2 scheme and he can hold up in underneath zone coverage.

Mike Newton (Buffalo) -- Newton doesn’t have great speed for a corner or size for a safety but he is a four-year starter who shows above-average instincts and can line up at corner as long as he gets help over the top. He’s capable of picking up this scheme and giving Coyer some flexibility in coverage.

Terrail Lambert (Notre Dame) -- Lambert is the X factor here. He signed with San Francisco as a rookie free agent in 2009 and later signed with the Colts. I don’t know how he’s progressed over the course of the last year but I put him here because he spent some time on the practice squad last year and should be comfortable with the scheme/team.

Thad Turner (Ohio) -- Turner has the potential to be an effective reserve bump-and-run corner but he needs to add weight and his upside is limited by stiff hips.

Jordan Hemby (North Carolina) -- There’s a lot to like about his upside but Hemby has had some problems staying healthy and it has hindered his progress. While he’s someone to keep an eye on, I’d be surprised if he made a substantial contribution this year.

Donye’ McCleskey (Indiana State) -- The good news is he has the tools to develop into an effective reserve safety. The bad news is he got away with suspect technique at Indiana State and he’ll have to break those bad habits to succeed in the NFL.

David Caldwell (William & Mary) -- Caldwell is a small-school prospect who should have a more difficult time adjusting to the speed of the game than McCleskey because he doesn’t have as much natural ability.

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