INDIANAPOLIS — Linebacker Ben Banogu, the Indianapolis Colts’ second-round (49th-overall) pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, held his first media conference call on Friday night. What did he have to say about his game?
What have the discussions been as far as linebacker goes?
“Well as far as linebacker goes, the coaches – we had meetings and everything through the Senior Bowl process, the combine and pro day. They have been talking about playing everywhere in the front seven from linebacker to rushing on pass downs. Just trying to maximize my athleticism.”
Would you be playing a strong side linebacker?
“Yeah, they were saying playing right next to (Darius) Leonard. Doing a little bit of that and then also getting around the edge and pass rushing. Doing the stuff that I have been doing and what I am comfortable doing but they also see that I can do a lot within the front seven. So they were saying wherever they put me they feel like I can excel at and they were looking at me as a guy that is a jack of all trades that can do just about anything. That’s the kind of vibe that I got from it.”
Next to Leonard, is that MIKE?
So this was not a huge stunner for you that the Colts gave you a call tonight?
“Well I mean I knew (inaudible) to be drafted in the second round at 49 to an organization like that. Getting the call I was ecstatic, I was pumped, I was ready to go. I know all the great stuff that happens in Indy. I was just so excited to be a part of it. The call was awesome, hearing my name called was awesome. Now it’s starting to settle in. I am just excited about being a Colt.”
Do you have much history at linebacker? Have you played there before?
“I played a little bit in high school, but most of my linebacker stuff that I could showcase NFL teams was at the Senior Bowl. Obviously, the Colts liked what they saw and they obviously knew I could pass rush. Just showing my versatility was something that I think really intrigued them. I am just happy that it was good enough for them to pull the trigger on me.”
At TCU, were you mostly a 4-3 end?
Did that ever involve doing any pass coverage and is that something you might have to do here?
“Honestly, like drawing stuff up on the board and kind of taking me through some pass rush stuff and through some coverage stuff they kind of touched on all things. For me, I am ready to do just about anything. With the coaching staff and with my football IQ, I feel like I can pick it up pretty fast and be effective.”
Did you expect a call in the second round? What were your anticipations like tonight?
“For me, I was looking at the teams and what teams needed and talking to the guys that are close to me and trusting their information. I saw that Indy traded back and they had a couple picks within the second round. With the conversation that I had with the staff, I was hoping that I would get a call. Once I got the call, man it was crazy. For me, I guess I knew I was going to get the call at some point, I didn’t know what team. My hope was Indy because the conversations that we had. It just so happened they called and I was just excited about it man. I was pumped.”
Did you make a pre-draft visit here?
“No, I didn’t make a pre-draft visit, but they came to TCU on numerous occasions. From meeting with me and then at the pro day, before the pro day and talked to them at the combine too. I had been meeting with them and kind of conversing with them at the Senior Bowl too, I also met with them. It has been some good conversation throughout. It wasn’t like one of those things that I was surprised, it was just exciting man.”
You have talked to the Colts enough to know what their scheme emphasizes like speed and athleticism. Do you see yourself as a fit in that regard? Is this a good spot for you?
“Oh yeah, I felt like that was a great spot for me. I feel like what they were telling me and what they thought that I could do. It kind of fit the same thought process that I had about myself. For me, once I got through meeting with them and going up on the board and talking through film, man I was just excited to have the opportunity to play with the team and with the organization and everything.”
In a perfect world, where do you want to line up and you can’t say wherever the coaches tell you?
“Honestly, wherever the coaches tell me – I have no choice. For me, I love to get after the passer. I love getting sacks and setting the edge and rushing. That’s an awesome part of the game and that’s why I played. Doing some of the linebacker stuff at the Senior Bowl really opened my eyes to all the neat ways that you can kind of create plays and turnovers for your team. I am just really excited to show them what I can do within the front seven. I am confident in myself and I am just glad that they are confident in me to give me the opportunity to go out and showcase that.”
Playing in a growing defense and alongside Darius Leonard is pretty exciting as well.
“Oh yeah, that’s so exciting. That’s the guy that I watched this past year that made a name for himself coming from a small school. He did his thing out there. For me, it’s an opportunity to watch him and see how he does things and learn from him and the rest of the guys. Just try and help the team win.”
Were the other teams that you were talking to also about playing linebacker?
“It was more like 3-4 defensive end, rushing and linebacker too. It was a good mix.”
With your talks with the Colts, do you expect your first crack would be at linebacker here?
“Well, honestly I am not really quite sure, that’s for them to pick. Where they see me fitting best is where I will be. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had me down rushing and being a defensive end and then also doing a little bit of coverage as well.”