For this evening edition of the Colts Notebook, we'll be taking a look at a couple intriguing draft picks, Hugh Thornton, and John Boyett, whom Chuck Pagano colorfully described last week as a "buzz saw."
6th round safety John Boyett, who used to play alongside Eric Dungy at Oregon, represents another low risk, late round gamble by the Colts front office. In rounds 4-7, teams often take chances on small school guys, players with maturity issues or bad measurables, and guys whose draft stock has plummeted due to injury. In Boyett’s case, it was the latter.
A star on Oregon’s defense, Boyett had a brilliant 2011 campaign, despite playing on two bad knees. Then, just a game into last season, he decided to have the surgery he needed and repair the torn patellar tendons in his knees.
Interestingly, the Colts originally had no official plans of meeting with Boyett at the combine in February. According to GM Ryan Grigson, Colts Area Scout Dave Razzano pulled Boyett aside and brought him in to talk with the staff during a short break between scheduled meetings with other draft prospects.
As Head Coach Chuck Pagano puts it, they met him by chance. “I’ll tell you what,” Pagano said of the young safety, “you watch this guy play, he’s a buzz saw. He’s a downhill guy. He loves to play. He loves special teams. He’s a guy that, again, we grabbed him at the combine just by chance. He was standing there, we grabbed him and pulled him in. We didn’t have him for a formal, we had a few minutes in between, and this guy just blew us away in about a two-minute interview. You could tell that this guy was very, very passionate about playing this sport, playing football, and what he could bring to the table. So I feel good about John (Boyett).”
Yep. Buzz saw. Coming from a fiery guy like Pagano, any comparison to a potentially dangerous power tool should be viewed as a high compliment.
Boyett is one of the many football players who tend to play through injuries when it may not be the best decision for their long-term health, but he is realistic about how it affected him. “Yeah, I played through it my whole junior year,” he said of playing hurt. “It was very difficult at times but it was probably my weakness was being able to play through them and I wish I would have been able to take care of the issues before it got to that point.
“I wanted to play football and I wanted to leave it all on the field for my teammates and the team that I played for and the coaches that coached me. So it bit me in the meantime, it bit me in the butt. It’s just the middle of the road right now and I’m hoping to finish things strong and I’m ready for this opportunity.”
Chuck Pagano, who has taken admirable caution at times with player injuries (Josh Chapman comes to mind), believes his rookie safety could be ready by training camp, and added, “We’ve got to protect John Boyett against himself because part of the deal, he loves to play, he loves the game. He’ll play hurt, so he was his own worst enemy. He wouldn’t tell those guys the pain he was feeling, he just played right through it.”
Football players are generally tough people, but toughness can make a person short sighted. Sometimes they need their coaches and medical staff to step up and look out for the player’s well-being, and the Colts will do that for Boyett.
Time will tell, but this kid has the potential to be a very good addition. If John Boyett makes the team and contributes on special teams, it’s a good pick. If he is able to do much more than that, it will prove to be another smart gamble.
As the Colts prepared to go on the clock for the third round of the 2013 draft, fans sat and waited, dreaming of what cornerback, wide receiver, or even safety they might draft. The pick came in…Illinois Guard Hugh Thor – wait, what? Hugh Thornton? Who is Hugh Thornton? It’s okay. He may not have been on many fans’ radar, but, hey, neither were T.Y. Hilton and Vick Ballard.
We have learned since that Thornton, a natural guard who played out of position at left tackle last year, is one tenacious blocker. He’s quick on his feet, has good strength, and he played very well against Big Ten competition.
“I like that our whole entire staff has really had big grades on him since August,” GM Ryan Grigson said of Thornton. “This was a guy that played left tackle this year for Illinois at a high level. I thought he was the most dominant guard of the Senior Bowl.
“Really is a great fit as a guard, but started at four different positions except center for Illinois. He really represents all the traits that you could want at the offensive guard spot: size, power, aggression, production, and constant finish. The way he plays excites you and it’s kind of, as an offensive lineman, he can set the tone for how the game is meant to be played.”
While it’s important to temper expectations, the film of Thornton playing in college (videos near the bottom of this link) do tend to give hope that he will be able to compete for a starting job or, at the very least, provide high quality depth – something that’s been missing of late – along the Colts’ oft-injured offensive line.
Thornton is pretty excited himself, joining a team fairly close to home (he’s from Ohio) and reuniting with his former offensive line coach, Joe Gilbert, who now holds the same position with Indianapolis. “I think that’s just God looking out, putting me in the right position,” he said. “I have a great relationship with Coach Gilbert and I’m excited to work with him in the future.”
A former high school state champion wrestler, Thornton was asked if he uses anything he learned from wrestling while playing football. He didn’t hesitate. “Probably discipline, hard work and endurance,” Thornton said. “The main thing that it taught me was composure. My coach in high school, Coach Laughlin, he was an Olympic trial coach back in the day and one thing that he taught me is just perseverance, persistence and dedication.”
Aside from looking like a potentially good find on film (a.k.a. YouTube videos), Thornton sounds like the type of levelheaded hard worker the Colts team, and fans can get behind. Time will tell what kind of player he will become, but in May, we can dream.
One final note on Indy’s third rounder, for anyone who didn’t see it several times last week, when he was asked what is the first thing that comes to mind when he hears the word “Colts,” Hugh Thornton quickly answered, “I think of champions, World Champions.” Yeah, I like ol’ Hugh already.
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I like seeing the positive comments made about John Boyett. John is an exceptional individual and will not let the Colts down. Boyett has a special gift of chasing the ultimate goal to be the best with a very high football iq that is not very common.
Seems to me the last time the Colts took a safety in the 6th round it worked out very well. We ended up with one of the best (and most underrated) safeties in the NFL: Antoine Bethea. Hope Boyett turns out the same way.
Thorton looked very respectable, and had a good Senior Bowl. Perfect pick at that spot. Want are the chances he starts day 1? Like you said, Boyett is no risk at that pick. If he can play STs like he did in college and be our 4th S, he's a steal. The injuries are scary though.
Boyett had the surgery on both knees in mid september and already ran a 4.57 at his pro day. Along with running routes and catching passes. Of course the biggest hurdle will be contact, but everyone seems to think he's ready and will be good by camp. I like a lot. But I've been wrong before!
I like Boyett but don't have high hopes: his injury is extremely rare and recovery stats are hard to find...the last NFL player with the same injury never made it back to the league. But we'll see, it's nice that he got the surgery mid-season so he'll have about a year of rehab before training camp starts.
Thornton looks like a great pickup all around IMO. He was under the radar but that's often a good thing with linemen; you can pick up tremendous talent later on and on the cheap.
@jtp142007- When you read the bio on this guy you come away with a sense that he's something special. Too much is made of height, weight, 40 yd dash time, etc. I work in IT and am a self professed stats freak, so I know that stats are often overrated. I think three better questions are: (1). Does he have heart? (2). Is he willing to work hard to improve? and (3). Does he have the brains to learn? The bio on Boyett answers all three with an emphatic "yes"! If this guy can come back from his injuries, I have very little doubt he will make the team. Even though his injuries were serious, everything I read about Boyett tells me not to bet against him.
@couchspud44 I like the sound of that. We just want to be careful not to set bar at Bethea's level. Though it hinges on his recovery, he has some serious potential, but he's still a good 6th round pick even if all he ever does is play well on special teams.
I sure like them rolling the dice on the guy, though. I agree, he could be special.
@smonroe I think Donald Thomas is going to take over for McGlynn. Thornton might be locked into a battle with a healthy Joe Reitz for the left guard spot. Reitz, a guy who grew up here watching the Colts, is good by most accounts, but, as you know, he gets hurt...a lot.
I still don't know what to think about Boyett's injuries yet. I hope he gets to a point where he can handle getting hit and can play for awhile.
@cwjwl I do hope he'll be alright. It's hard to say how he'll do when he gets out and plays, especially on special teams, where the collisions come at high speeds, but I suppose that's why guys like that go late in the draft. Low risk.
You should have high hopes, Boyett was a great bargain and huge come up for the Colts. Boyett will contribute where ever the Colts choose to utilize him on the field. If you met Boyett and talked to him for five minutes I am sure that your opinion would be totally different as JB is an exceptional individual.
@Coltsheadben Collie had the same injury that ended his season (and probably career) last year... Hard to be optimistic about a player coming back from that injury occurring in both knees, but if he can, he should be pretty good.
He really does sound like a heck of a guy, and a monster of a football player. I'm glad the Colts are givi g him a chance.
He's tough. Ronnie Lott tough, with the same killer instinct. I don't know how long it would take a normal human being to come back from an injury such as his, but Superman will fly again before the playoffs.
@colt nasty@TheGreatMisdirect@Coltsheadben Boyett's injury was originally described as a partial tear in each patellar tendon. From what I found, that means some fibers are ruptured/torn, but most of them are still connected. Here's a 2012 report on the injury from an Oregon newspaper: http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2012/09/oregon_ducks_senior_safety_joh.html
And here's a wikipedia article on patellar tendon ruptures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patellar_tendon_rupture
I like this pick because they took a risk on a 6th rounder. It isn't unusual for a 6th round pick not to make their team, but if this guy gets healthy, he could be much better than most 3rd day draftees.
But I'm much more excited about Hugh Thornton.
I wish I could clarify it. It is unclear to me what exactly was done to his knees, but his injuries and their surgical treatment appear to be very different from what we usually think about, i.e. Austin Collie.
It will be interesting to see how his recovery goes.