Former Missouri S Jaylon Carlies brings added versatility to the Colts LB room

The addition of Missouri’s Jaylon Carlies in the fifth round of the NFL draft will add some versatility to the Colts’ linebacker room, along with bolstering the overall depth.

Carlies was recruited out of high school by a number of schools to play receiver. Initially at Mizzou, he began his career at cornerback but ended up making the move to safety.

While Carlies spent the majority of his college career on the back end of the Missouri defense, he has linebacker size at 6-3 and nearly 230 pounds. After the third day of the draft, GM Chris Ballard mentioned that linebacker is the position group Carlies will be working with as a member of the Colts.

Carlies’ length, with a nearly 81-inch wingspan, and athleticism, posting a Relative Athletic Score of 8.26, were key factors in the Colts’ decision to have him play linebacker. But on film, they also really liked what Carlies showcased when tasked with playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

“Carlies’ biggest impact for Missouri’s defense came from his tackling,” said Joey Van Zummeren, who covers Missouri Football for SI’s Fan Nation. “He was a really solid run defender and could also blow up screen passes. He’s able to wrap up running backs really well, even if they have the size advantage on him. He’d play close to the line often and disrupted runners pretty quickly.”

Out of 200 eligible safeties in 2023, Carlies ranked 43rd in PFF’s run-stop rate metric. During his three seasons at Missouri playing the position, he would total at least 65 tackles each year.

Colts area scout Tyler Hughes would note that there will be a “jump” for Carlies as he transitions to being a primary box defender, but his experience lining up there at Missouri will help.

On the flip side, coverage responsibilities at the linebacker position are more imporant than they’ve ever been, and Carlies’ experience as a coverage defender from his time in college brings a bit of a different element to the Colts’ linebacker room.

“As Carlies mentioned in his post-draft conference call,” said Van Zummeren, “Blake Baker’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme at Missouri put him in a few different positions. I don’t think he’ll have too much difficulty making the transition.”

As a linebacker, Carlies will primarily be tasked with covering running backs and tight ends, which Hughes points out he did well with at Missouri. In three seasons, Carlies would record nine interceptions and five pass breakups.

Assisting Carlies with this transition from safety to linebacker will be a Colts’ coaching staff that is very well-equipped to do so.

Assistant linebackers coach Cato June went through a similar transition during his own playing career. Meanwhile, linebackers coach Richard Smith was a part of Gus Bradley’s staff in Las Vegas that helped Divine Deablo make the switch from college safety to NFL linebacker.

“Carlies is a very mature and intelligent player,” added Van Zummeren. “He often broke down plays in press conferences, and he almost has a photographic memory. He’s patient to let plays develop because he trusts what he’s seeing.”

With Zaire Franklin and EJ Speed already on the roster, the Colts won’t need to rely on Carlies heavily as he transitions not only to the NFL but also to the linebacker position. The Colts also have Ronnie Harrison, another former safety, who can handle dime or big nickel lineups.

Linebacker certainly didn’t garner as much attention prior to the draft as other positions, but it was a need that did have to be tackled. There are some unknowns on the depth chart behind Speed and Franklin–not to mention that Speed and Harrison are only under contract through the 2024 season.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire