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Marvell Tell III Moving To Cornerback With Colts

With the 144th pick in Round 5 of the 2019 Draft, the Colts took USC defensive back Marvell Tell III. Why are the Colts moving Tell to cornerback?

Zach Bolinger | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLISThe experiment is happening far earlier than it did with T.J. Green.


In today’s NFL, teams all over the league have flirted with the idea of drafting longer defensive backs, with physiques that look like a safety to see if they can find a new home at cornerback.


The Colts are trying that with 5th round pick Marvell Tell III, who stands 6-2 and 195 pounds.


A college safety at USC, Tell will get his first NFL look at the cornerback position.


Chris Ballard said wanting to see Tell at cornerback comes from his intriguing athletic makeup and a pre-draft workout Colts cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon did with the lean DB.


Tell is another answer to the Colts bringing in unique body types to a defense that is looking to do some different things moving forward.


When you are playing the quarterbacks that lie ahead in 2019, these are the type of athletes that can lead to more creativity from Matt Eberflus.


“Athleticism, explosiveness, length, intelligence, he’s a really smart guy, change of direction,” Colts area scout Chris McGaha says of what is attractive about Tell as a corner. “The way he tested at the pro day, all the numbers were really good. He’s just a great, great kid who is going to work his tail off. He’s going to do what he has to do to make the position change.


“It’s a bit of a projection. You kind of have to be creative, I guess. But just the way he moves, the way he changes direction, and then you’ve got a longer guy out there. He’s going to work at it.”


Impressive short area quickness from Tell and elite jumping numbers in the testing portion of the draft process played into the Colts projecting him at corner. Tell finished his career at USC with 220 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions and 13 pass deflections.


According to Tell, no team showed him more interest in the draft process than the Colts.


Part of Indy’s attraction to Tell comes from their belief that he can be used as more than just a cornerback.


Whereas Green---the team’s 2016 second-round pick was strictly a deep safety in college---Tell moved around a bit at USC. Plus, the Colts waited until very late in the 2017 offseason (Green's 2nd NFL season) before moving the former Clemson safety to corner. Tell will be exposed to corner from Day One in the NFL. Lastly, the mental makeup of Tell is something the Colts feel will lend to a smoother transition.


But there’s still going to be a learning curve for Tell.


The Colts have the depth at corner to be patient with Tell, who also could fill some sub package duties, similar to how Indy used Quincy Wilson at times last season.


“These guys are valuable when they can do a lot on game day,” Ballard says. “Quincy Wilson has developed into not only a good corner, but he slides in (and) he plays dime (linebacker). He’s highly intelligent and he can slide and play different roles for you.


“We think Tell has got that same type of talent. Any time you’ve got a chance to get a big athlete with long arms, good speed, we think he can do a bunch of different roles. (But) we’re going to play him at corner to start out.”



Post-Draft Stories

-Rock Ya-Sin ranked as the top college corner in one pretty important category for the Colts

-The Colts see some Jamie Collins in new hybrid linebacker Ben Banogu

-Frank Reich has a 'take it to the house' game-breaker in Parris Campbell

-How similar are the physical traits of Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke?

-In trading up for Khari Willis, the Colts showed their love for the Big Ten safety

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