Indianapolis Colts: Two UDFAs who can make the team


Jul 24, 2014; Anderson, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano coaches on the field during training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After a head-scratching draft the Indianapolis Colts, along with the other 31 teams, signed a bunch of rookies who weren’t selected in the 7 rounds of the 2015 NFL draft as undrafted free agents. Undrafted free agents fight hard during summer training camps to show that they belong in the NFL. Unfortunately, each roster can’t have more than 53 players and most of them will be cut before the new season begins.

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However, every year there are a few undrafted free agents who have very impressive workout session during training camp and manage to gain a roster spot on a team or end up in their practice squad.

A few days ago the Colts signed 15 undrafted free agents with the hope to find at least a couple of future contributors that can make the final roster. Here’s the complete list:

QB Bryan Bennett, SE Louisiana

RB Tyler Varga, Yale

WR Ezell Ruffin, San Diego State

WR Quan Bray, Auburn

TE Jean Sifrin, University of Massachusetts

TE Justin Sinz, Purdue

CB Donald Celiscar, Western Michigan

LB Cody Galea, San Diego State

LB Terrell Hartsfield, Cincinnati

LB Zachary Hodges, Harvard

LB Junior Sylvestre, Toledo

CB Joshua Mitchell, Nebraska

CB Al-Hajj Shabazz, West Chester

S Robert Smith, Clemson

C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern’s draft analyst Chad Reuter thinks that the Colts have a pretty solid UDFA class this year and ranks them in the top five, behind the Baltimore Ravens, the New Orleans Saints, the Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans.

Jan 20, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad outside linebacker Zack Hodges of Harvard (96) breaks up this pass intended for tight end Casey Pierce of Kent State (87) during Senior Bowl North squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Hodges, OLB, Harvard

(6’2″, 250)

Hodges had contacts with the Indianapolis Colts before the draft and also during the draft but no team decide to invest a draft pick on him. The 2014 Ivy League Co-Defensive Player of the Year didn’t lose hope and when the Colts offered him a contract to bring him in as an undrafted free agent he signed immediately with Chuck Pagano’s team because “[…] They sounded like they really will give me a chance to compete“, Hodges said.

The “Ivy League equivalent of JJ Watt“, as NFL media Connor Orr called him in an interview (link below), led the team with 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks last season.

Hodges has a lot of the traits that NFL teams look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker: good burst, speed, athletic hips and a limited but still effective skill set of pass-rushing moves. The reasons why he went undrafted are the level of competition he played against, his lack of bulk to play in the NFL and his raw technique.

All of the aforementioned flaws can be fixed if a player is willing to do it and Hodges certainly doesn’t lack the character to be patient and develop into a good NFL player. With Robert Mathis and Trent Cole well past 30 years old Hodges can learn from two great players and eventually replace on of them if he puts his mind to it.

Hodges’ story is pretty incredible: to find out more about his tormented journey read this awesome Path to the Draft segment on

Jan 24, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad fullback Tyler Varga of Yale (30) carries up the field against South squad defensive corner Nick Marshall of Auburn (14) during the third quarter of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The North squad defeated the South squad 34-13. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Varga, RB/FB, Yale

(5’11”, 222)

After the acquisition of veteran Frank Gore the Indianapolis Colts added another running back, Josh Robinson out of Mississippi State, in the sixth round of the draft. Even if Robinson was drafted and Varga arrived as an undrafted free agent they will compete for a roster spot and I’m not sure if Robinson has better chances than Varga.

The big back from Yale has great bulk, strong hands and even stronger legs that allow him to break arm tackles with ease. Despite having the frame of a full back Varga can “[…] stop on a dime and make defenders miss“, as’s draft expert Lance Zierlein wrote.

At the Senior Bowl Varga had chance to show his skill set and he can really do it all: he runs well both inside and outside the tackles, can play the full back position if necessary and he has smooth hands to catch passes out of the backfield. Pass protection needs to be refined but he has the physical tools to be a great protector for Andrew Luck on passing downs.

If he can make an impact on special teams at first (and I believe he will) Varga could very well end up on the 53-men roster at the beginning of the season.

Next: Colts: Drafting Phillip Dorsett a mistake

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