The state of Indiana is not historically known as one of the premiere states in producing NFL talent. But there have been gems in the rough that have shined at the top level. When one thinks about where top tier talent is produced around the country, states such as Florida, Texas and California come to mind. Big names include Lamar Jackson out of the Sunshine State, and two of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, started in the Golden State. But there have been plenty of impact players to come out of Indiana to thrive in the NFL. And this year, teams shouldn’t sleep on the Hoosier State because there are many players that are ready to make a statement at the next level. First, let’s take a look at some of the best players from Indiana to make a name for themselves in the National Football League:
As one of the best talents produced in Indiana, Woodson attended R. Nelson Snider High School in Fort Wayne and attended Purdue University to have an outstanding career. Although his forte was cornerback and kick returner, and would often be a big part of the offense as a running back. Along with football, he was also a star track runner, where he had multiple top 3 finishes in the 55 hurdles in the NCAA Championships.He finished his football career at Purdue with 13 individual records, and was inducted in the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. He became one of the best secondaries in the nation, and was taken 10th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987, where his legendary career began. Woodson spent his best years in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. As one of the all time great cornerbacks to play the game, Woodson was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 with the Steelers, won the Super Bowl with a star-studded Baltimore Ravens squad in 2000, and holds the record for most interception touchdowns at 12. In 17 seasons, Rod snagged 71 interceptions, ran for nearly 5,000 kickoff return yards, and scored 17 touchdowns. In his first year of eligibility, it was an easy YES to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Doyle went to Cathedral High School, where he earned All State honors for football and won the state championship in 2006. In his senior year, he reeled in 21 catches for 400 yards and four touchdowns. His game did not catch the eyes of many colleges, as the only scholarship he received was from Western Kentucky. A three-time captain, Doyle was named to the Phil Steele National All-Freshman team, and was named first team All-Sun Belt as a senior. His stellar senior season led to an opportunity in the NFL, where he went undrafted to the Tennessee Titans. His time was cut short with the Titans, as he was waived after signing a contract, and was soon scooped up by his hometown team, the Indianapolis Colts, where he would become “Mr. Reliable”. He is not the most flashy player, but his tendency to be in the right place at the right time is the reason he is still a consistent player in the league. Doyle has made multiple Pro-Bowl appearances with the Colts, and is set to stay in his hometown until his contract ends in 2022.
One of the hottest and recent stars to come out of Indiana goes by the name of Terry McLaurin, AKA Scary Terry. Born and raised in Indianapolis, McLaurin developed at Cathedral High School, and caught a lot of attention around the country there, as he won Indiana’s Mr. Football award in 2013, and was ranked the 36th best wide receiver in the nation according to 247Sport Composite. The four-star recruit would take his talents to Ohio State University, where he progressed well in his four years. As a senior, Terry made an impact that would ultimately give him a shot at the pro level, as he reeled in 35 receptions for 701 yards, and reached the end zone 11 times for the Buckeyes. In 2019, he was drafted to the Washington Football Team with the 76th pick in the third round. McLaurin was one of the more premiere rookies in the league; he became the first player in NFL history to catch at least five passes and a touchdown in their first three career games. He finished his rookie season with 58 receptions, 919 yards and seven touchdowns. But it was his second season that turned the heads of the football world. Making spectacular catches all season long, and despite an unstable quarterback position, McLaurin eclipsed 1,000 yards and four touchdown passes. Rising in the wide receiver ranks, Terry McLaurin is slowly rising to become one of the best receivers in the league.
With the NFL draft on Thursday, here are a few players from Indiana who look to hear their name called.
There has been a lot of buzz forming around the former Cathedral High School star linebacker. The 4-star spent his four years of eligibility at Ohio State University and appeared in a total of 47 games. In his career, he had a stellar tackle record, recording a total 185 tackles and 16 tackles for loss. Werner received All-Big Ten honors in his senior season, where he had 54 tackles and two forced fumbles, as well as appearing in the National Championship game vs. Alabama. Now declared for the NFL draft, PFF has Werner ranked as the number seven linebacker in the draft, and many mock drafts have him as a possible late-first round pick. His versatility, athleticism and the ability to cover the zone well will make him a great addition to any team in the league. At OSU, he was known for his physical striking attribute and quick trigger. If he is able to bring this to the pro level, there is no doubt he will thrive as a rookie in the league
No, this is not Captain America Chris Evans, but he can bring the effort and leadership every day like Cap does. Hailing from Ben Davis in Indianapolis, Evans finished his senior season with the Giants rushing for 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns. Evans caught the eye of Jim Harbaugh and Michigan at a camp in Indianapolis, and shortly after, he committed to play for the Wolverines. At Michigan, he had a productive career, producing nearly 1800 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Pro Football Focus has Evans ranked as the seventh best running back in the draft, but NFL scouts are concerned about his productivity in 2020. He only had 16 rush attempts, totaling 73 yards in six games. But one thing teams see that stands out in Chris Evans is his ability to grind the outside, burst through the hole, and keep his feet moving. If Evans can return to his dominant game, an NFL team will be lucky to pick him up on day two or day three in the draft.
The former Lawrence Central Bear Cam McGrone is set to find himself on an NFL roster come draft day. The four-star recruit was one of the top linebackers in the nation. As a senior, McGrone tallied 84 tackles, 14 of them for loss and had four sacks. Fully committed to play for the Michigan Wolverines, he took his opportunity and never looked back. Against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, McGrone put on a show, racking up a single-game career high 12 tackles. That was a part of a stellar junior season, as he totaled 65 tackles and 9 tackles for loss. In a shortened 2020 season, he still ended the year with 26 tackles in five games. As he prepares to hear his name called, his explosive play and ability to blow up the run game catches the eyes of many scouts. But one thing believes scouts will have to improve on is his efficiency in coverage defensive schemes. Here is another case, like Chris Evans, where if McGrone can return to producing numbers like he did in 2019, one NFL team could get a steal selecting him in the third or fourth.
Rondale Moore is one of the more interesting players in this draft, and has positioned himself as one of the best receivers available. Originally from New Albany, Indiana, Moore transferred his senior year of high school to Trinity High School in Louisville. He became a four-star recruit there, and found himself committed to Texas University to play for the Longhorns. He would soon decommit to go play for Purdue and coach Jeff Brohm. Moore had a remarkable freshman season, recording over 1,200 receiving yards, and averaged nearly 100 yards per game. He was named First Team All-American by the Associated Press, as well as Freshman of the Year by CBS Sports. Injuries kept Moore from reaching his full potential, as production his next two years took a dive. But, scouts have no problem drafting this kid in the first round. Standing at 5’7, Moore has flash-like speed to beat his defenders off the line and insane strength for his size, but what may hurt his draft stock is his lack of game experience. Either way, we know Rondale Moore will be a late first round/early second round pick to a team lacking receiver depth.
Another Lawrence Central product is set to make his way to the NFL is Gerrid Doaks. The three-star recruit received offers from Indiana, Buffalo, Ball State and Cincinnati. Doaks signed on to play as a Bearcat, and was able to put up consistent numbers throughout his college career. Last year, In one of the most historic seasons in Cincinnati history, he was the leading back for the Bearcats, with a total 673 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He is not a top 10 running back in the draft, but he is projected to hear his name called on one of the final days. Doaks speed and ability to break away for big plays may give him a shot to compete on an NFL roster. The longer it takes to hear your name, the harder it is to get on a roster, but Doaks has full faith he can run and gun in the big league.
Will Matchett is a reporter with the NextGen Sports/Recorder Media Group Partnership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org