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Boyett A "Buzz Saw" If He Can Stay Healthy

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John Boyett was known in Oregon both for his weak knees and an intense tackling ability. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
John Boyett was known in Oregon both for his weak knees and an intense tackling ability. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Last Tuesday, I began a series taking a closer look at each player the Indianapolis Colts selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Today is John Boyett’s turn.

Selection: Sixth round, 192nd overall

Position/size: Safety/5 ft. 10 in., 204 lbs.

Collegiate awards: 2011 All-Pac-12 first-team by Phil Steele and second-team by coaches, 2011 All-America honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly, 2009 Freshman All-American first-team by CollegeFootballNews.com and Phil Steele.

Strengths: Boyett thrives off his mental capabilities. Whether it’s instincts, work ethic, pregame film study, taking correct angles or a willingness to get tough to support the running game or deliver a big hit, Boyett has got the brain every safety prospect should envy. He also has good technique and great strength, which allow him to make good, solid tackles on big ball carriers.

Weaknesses: It’s a good thing Boyett’s work ethic and instincts are as good as they are, because he would never make it into the NFL based on his body alone. Despite his strength, Boyett is small for a safety and lacks both top-end speed and athleticism when it comes to changing direction. This prevents him from helping cover slot receivers, he must stay back deep as a ball hawk to make an impact. His durability also came into question last year, causing his draft stock to fall a bit. Boyett only played in one game as a senior because of a partial tear in both of his patella tendons. He finally got surgery after his knees bugged him during his junior season.

Best case scenario: First and foremost, Boyett makes a full recovery from his double knee surgery in time to make a bang in training camp. His instincts and smarts impress teammates and coaches enough to earn a spot on the opening day roster. He’s not going to start right away because Antoine Bethea is an established starter and LaRon Landry was signed this offseason to a starter’s contract. However, if this is a best case scenario for Boyett, one of those two goes down with an injury, allowing him to come in and prove he belongs in the NFL.

Worst case scenario: Boyett rushes himself back onto the playing field too quickly and only makes his knee issues worsen. He remains injury plagued the rest of his career, never staying healthy long enough to make any lasting impact. When he does rarely get on the field, his lack of speed and height make him an easy target when matched up against bigger, faster receivers.

Realistic expectations: All indications are that Boyett will be physically ready for training camp. Even if this is true, the Colts should be patient with him throughout his entire rookie year as he gains back his strength, stamina and confidence in his legs. Because of this, it’s unlikely he’ll make any big impact in 2013. I’m not sure whether it will be on the active roster or the practice squad, but the Colts will find a way to hold on to Boyett until at least next year. Provided he can stay healthy, Boyett’s instincts should allow him to at least be a backup safety and possibly a contributor on special teams.

Quotes: HC Chuck Pagano: “He’s a buzz saw. He’s a downhill guy. He loves special teams. This guy blew us away in two minutes (in a combine interview). He’s very passionate about playing football. We feel good about John.”

GM Ryan Grigson: “The tape speaks for itself with him, but it’s nice when you sit down and look someone in the eye, it means a lot. John was a player that we all knew could play lights-out, but when he got to sit down in front of us we said, ‘Okay, this is why the guy plays this way, he’s an intense guy.’ ”

Boyett: “The way Ronnie Lott played the game defines the position,” said Boyett.  “Just the way he played the game with a chip on his shoulder, I feel like that’s how everyone should play.”