Ben Banogu brings jack-of-all-trades talent to Colts’ defense
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – We know who the Indianapolis Colts selected with their second pick in round 2 of Friday night’s NFL Draft.
That would be TCU’s Ben Banogu.
Still to be determined is his role in Matt Eberflus’ defense.
Is it Ben Banogu, defensive end?
Ben Banogu, outside linebacker?
Ben Banogu, pass rusher?
His numerous meetings and discussions with the Colts – at the NFL Scouting Combine, TCU’s Pro Day, the Senior Bowl, etc. – always touched on his intriguing versatility.
“They’ve been talking about playing everywhere in the front seven, from linebacker to rushing on passing downs, just trying to maximize my athleticism,’’ Banugo said. “They were saying (playing) right next to (Darius) Leonard, doing a little bit of that and getting around the edge as a pass-rushing end.
“They’re looking at me as a guy that’s a jack-of-all-trades, that can do just about anything. That’s the kind of vibes I got from them.’’
The 6-4, 249-pound Banogu played two seasons at Louisiana-Monroe before transferring to TCU. After sitting out the 2016 season, he started 17 games and finished with 106 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He generated 8.5 sacks in each season.
Banogu primarily was an end in TCU’s 4-3 scheme. The last time he played competitively as a linebacker was at Prosper (Texas) High School.
The possibility of an end-to-linebacker switch increased at the Senior Bowl.
“Most of my linebacker stuff I could showcase teams was at the Senior Bowl,’’ he said. “Obviously the Colts liked what they saw. They obviously knew I could pass rush, but just showing my versatility really intrigued them. I’m just happy it was good enough for them to pull the trigger on me.
“It wasn’t one of those things where I was just surprised. It was just exciting, man. To be drafted in the second round, at 49, to an organization like that, getting that call I was ecstatic. I was pumped. I was ready to go.’’
Even though he doesn’t specifically know how he’ll fit in Eberflus’ defense, Banogu is convinced he’ll be a great fit.
“Oh, yeah, I thought that was a great spot for me,’’ he said. “I feel what they were telling me and what they thought that I could do sort of fit the same thought process that I had about myself.
“I saw Indy traded back and had a couple of picks within the second round. With the conversation I had with the staff, I was hoping I would get the call. Once I got the call, man, it was crazy.’’
Given his druthers, Banogu wants the opportunity to build his pass-rush resume.
“I love to get after the passer,’’ he said. “I love getting sacks and setting the edge and rushing. That’s the awesome part of the game. That’s why I play it.
“Doing some of the linebacker stuff at the Senior Bowl really opened my eyes to all the neat ways you can create plays and turnovers for your team. I’m just really excited to show them what I can do within the front seven.’’