Scouting reports 2024


Junior Colson, LB, Michigan (Junior)

Back for the 2024 NFL Draft edition, The Trick Play team is once again offering to immerse you in the heart of the event through the scouting reports of Rayane and Valentin. Who will become the next gem of the pro world and who, on the contrary, risks a spectacular flop?
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Strengths :

  • Good punch
  • Nice athletic abilities
  • Big ability to cover the passing game
  • Young and promising
  • Willing player


Weaknesses :

  • Reading ability
  • Pursuit angles
  • Plays too high
  • Imbalance
  • Run Stop
  • Raw


Let's dive into Junior Colson's strengths and weaknesses to get a comprehensive view of what he brings to the table beyond just the potential he's hyped for.
Junior Colson's appeal is quite evident. At just 21 years old, he's young, promising, and possesses impressive athletic abilities, making him an enticing prospect to develop. His athleticism is clearly visible on the field—Junior is fast, highly explosive, and appears to be quite agile when he manages to stay in control (a point we'll revisit later on).

Colson is also very intriguing in his ability to cover ground. As we've seen, Junior is agile and fast, and he has worked on these strengths to develop a solid coverage skill set. Whether it's in zone coverage or man-to-man situations, Junior moves well and has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can cover deep and wide zones, which should undoubtedly attract the attention of defensive coordinators.
Junior is often well positioned to make a big play and/or at least disrupt the quarterback and force him to make a very difficult pass if he wants to complete it, creating opportunities for turnovers for the safeties covering above him. The final against Washington is a great example of what he can bring in coverage since, without being the one who intercepted the ball that sealed the game in the fourth quarter, he is nevertheless one of the main reasons as he forced Penix to throw into a tiny window. The number of times Junior demonstrates this kind of play throughout the season is impressive. To conclude on this point, which is clearly Colson's biggest strength, when he moves in coverage, I noted that he has smooth hips and the ability to drop into his zone quickly and with good technique, which is very impressive.

 On the Run stop side, what I liked to see from Junior is his willingness. While he indeed has real difficulties in this aspect of the game as we will see later, he doesn't make excuses for himself, and most importantly, he doesn't hide. Junior strives to do his best and won't hesitate, if necessary, to crash into blockers to close potential rushing lanes that could open for the ball carrier. This kind of attitude is good in defense and especially at the LB position.
To continue on the Run stop aspect, Colson doesn't hesitate to use his punch effectively to separate from offensive linemen when they manage to get to him at the second level. While he doesn't show anything particularly extraordinary in this regard and still has room for improvement, the determination he shows in wanting to disengage from the block remains a positive point.
Now, while Junior has clearly proven several times during the season that he could be among the top linebackers in coverage, it's not quite the same story when it comes to his ability to defend the run. For a linebacker, I don't find him impactful enough in run defense, and that bothers me a lot.

Several things can explain this, but they all revolve around the same reason. Junior is still an extremely raw player. He has shown it on multiple occasions, and once again, I draw your attention to the national championship game played by Michigan against Washington. In that match, or at least in the beginning of it, Colson was unrecognizable. He was not at his best, and everything seemed to be moving too fast for him, which is normal given his youth. You'll see that most of the points we'll discuss will ultimately be related to this.
For example, his game reading. Junior seems slow when it comes to reading the game, and that's something that bothers me a lot, especially for a LB. Like many others in the NFL, reading is an extremely important element for Michigan's defense, regardless of the position. However, several times this season, especially during the final against Washington, I saw Colson being completely lost on the field. While his reading may sometimes be slow, the processing of the information he reads can also be particularly slow.
That's not something you want to see in the guy who's likely to be the leader of your defense. In the final, he repeatedly hindered other Michigan defenders in their movements by colliding with them during the play. So, we need to pay attention to Colson's future development on this point.

The same goes for his pursuit angles, which also need work. Indeed, Junior can sometimes be too eager when he spots the ball and rush in. When this happens, he can quickly find himself in overpursuit, giving the ball carrier a chance to change direction abruptly and shake off the defender.
While at other times, the opposite occurs. Junior overestimates his speed, ending up in underpursuit and having to make an emergency arm tackle because he misjudged his pursuit. These kinds of reps are not uncommon, highlighting the need to work on all of this to avoid struggling once in the pros.

Another negative point I've noted about Junior Colson is his tendency to lose balance, and I find that it happens a bit too often for my liking. Indeed, if he often finds himself off balance, it's because as soon as he spots something, he charges towards it. The issue, which is related to the previous point, is that when he charges, he's not necessarily under control anymore, losing all the agility that could otherwise be a strength in his game. Therefore, he'll need to work on staying under control to take his game to the next level.
Finally, I've noticed that Junior plays too high. Whether it's when taking on blocks, dropping into zone coverage and needing to change direction quickly, engaging in tackles, or even on blitz situations, Junior tends to play too upright. It's not uncommon to see him playing as straight as an "I," and inevitably, this directly impacts many game situations where he could be even stronger if he forced himself to play lower.