Indianapolis Colts fans have been screaming for two years that Andrew Luck needs better line protection, and those who make the picks heard the cry. Meet Ulrick John (not John Ulrick), the second lineman the Colts selected this year with experience playing multiple line positions. He hails from Georgia. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and he played for Georgia State when they were just starting their Division I football program.
If Jack Mewhort is the “versatile” one, then Ulrick John could be the “athletic” one. Jack and John are both (at least in theory) capable of playing any position on the offensive line. John specifically has experience switching between tackle, guard and center (sometimes switching weekly, as needed). Given the Colts’ line struggles the past couple of seasons, it makes sense that the team might want to experiment with different types of players. They need options when inevitable injuries occur. But it does make me wonder if they’re protecting Luck with guys who are Jacks of all trades and masters of none. I, with mixed emotions, suggested the “Jack of All Trades” nickname for Mewhort after hearing the word “versatile” thousands of times in the wake of his drafting. Could Jack or John become masters at a specific trade, specifically in John’s case, in protecting Luck’s blind side?
Everyone seems to agree John has the perfect body type for left tackle at 6-foot-5, 300-pounds; it’s like he was assembled by science to play the position but then allowed to grow at a normal human rate. He’ll have to put on weight in order to reach his full potential, but scouts like his footwork and his quickness. Colts GM Ryan Grigson described him as a “developmental guy.”
A bit of a red flag for me is that the internet can’t seem to agree on how tall he is. Georgia State has him listed as 6-foot-8, articles about him during the draft process list him at 6-foot-7 and the Colts’ roster has him listed at 6-foot-5. He has some injury concerns. In 2013 a torn labrum slowed him down. He’s experienced ankle, shoulder and rib injuries, but word on the street is that he played through them.
The biggest knocks against him seem to be related to his strength as terms like “narrow shoulders” and “under-developed lower body” appear in his profile. Luckily, given the right attitude and work ethic, those are things that can be remedied, and it’s already been stated that adding strength will be his top priority for his rookie season. He’s not going to bring any off the field problems; he’s a high character guy with a good work ethic who just seems to be a little behind in his physical development.
Honestly, the biggest issue seems to be that many analysts and fans believe he would have still be available as a free agent (he was taken with pick No. 232 and there are only 256 picks in the draft). I’m not “drafty” enough to know who might have been a more valuable pick, but I’m willing to see what he’s made of before passing a “not worth it” judgement. Grigson wanted him, and Grigson got him; until they start losing, I’m willing to give them both the benefit of the doubt.