Coming off an impressive 2012 campaign, the Indianapolis Colts have been scoping out any potential avenues via which they can add talent.
On Thursday, the Colts signed linebacker Caesar Rayford, formerly of the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League (AFL). He has also spent time with the Spokane Shock of the AFL and the B.C. Lions of the CFL after failing to impress the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie in 2008.
In a corresponding move, Indianapolis waived fellow linebacker Jake Killeen, who was signed to a futures/reserve contract back in January after playing three seasons with the Tri-Cities Fever of the Indoor Football League.
A defensive end and Washington product, Rayford spent the last four seasons with the Blaze, amassing 68 total tackles, 22.5 sacks, 26.5 tackles for a loss, 16 passes defended, seven forced fumbles, seven fumbles recovered and two interceptions. In case you’re not familiar with AFL football, those numbers – especially the sack total – are impressive in a league that thrives on quick passes.
His real prowess, however, is as a kick blocker. Over his four AFL campaigns, Rayford blocked six kicks, including a league single-season record five in 2011. Throughout his college career with the Huskies, he also thrived as a kick blocker.
The signing corresponds with Colts GM Ryan Grigson’s background as a CFL player and scout as well as a coach in the AFL. While he’s far from a lock to make the roster, the fact that the Colts noticed Rayford despite being six years removed from college is impressive. It took hard work, dedication and standout film to get Grigson’s attention, so Rayford is obviously doing something right at this point in his professional football career.
Now with the Colts, Rayford will battle with the likes of Justin Hickman and Lawrence Sidbury for one or two backup outside linebacker spots. Although he’s a longshot to make the 53-man roster, he can’t be completely discounted as a factor in the competition considering his AFL production and physical tools.
We’ll see soon enough if Rayford’s outstanding AFL showing can translate in Colts training camp.