The Indianapolis Colts had a history of uncovering undrafted players and talent from small schools before Ryan Grigson took over as general manager. Defensive tackle Zach Kerr from the University of Delaware has the potential to be the Colts’ latest find in both categories.
Why did Kerr go undrafted? At 6-foot-2, he’s kind of short (though he makes up for some of that size differential by weighing in at 335-pounds, according to his Colts profile). He had some academic issues that ultimately led to him sitting out a year and switching from the University of Maryland to Delaware, but he kept his promise to graduate and earned a degree in Sociology. He’s was sidelined for a time with a concussion, but one concussion does not necessarily a “concussion history” red flag make.
Basically, Kerr went undrafted because there wasn’t a ton of need at his position in the league this year, even though there was quite a bit of interest in him as a player. He was always a player to watch. Rolling Stone did a feature on him titled “Passed Over: The Life of an Undrafted NFL Free Agent”, which focused on his draft weekend experience. He was expecting to be drafted in the latter rounds (NFL scouts projected that he’d go between rounds six and seven). When the draft was over, he had multiples calls; he was a free agent for a matter of hours before the Colts snatched him up. He said in the end he chose Indianapolis not because they offered the most money, but because that’s where he felt the most comfortable.
The Colts are always quick to point out their undrafted success stories by invoking the names of Jeff Saturday, Dominic Rhodes and Mike Vanderjagt, among others. The league is full of these success stories, just as it’s full of draft bust stories. While going undrafted undoubtedly stings, for some guys, and maybe for Kerr, getting to choose his situation could mean all the difference in his career.
It will be interesting to see how this defense meshes together. All of the younger guys (Kerr included) are quick to say how eager they are to learn from Robert Mathis. Meanwhile, newly acquired defensive veteran D’Qwell Jackson says he wants to hug Andrew Luck every day, after playing with 11 different starting quarterbacks during his tenure with the Cleveland Browns. The Colts have brought together a lot of different guys with diverse narratives and skill sets. Though Kerr is unlikely to start right away and though some may be critical of the level of competition he’s played against up to this point in his career, those in the know believe he’ll rise to the occasion and become another undrafted free agent success story.