INDIANAPOLIS – Even for the type Gus Bradley has at cornerback, JuJu Brents would be considered an extreme outlier.
Bradley has always been a fan of big, long cornerbacks. That could be seen in his days as the defensive coordinator of Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom.’
Well, they don’t make many cornerbacks looking like JuJu Brents.
At 6-3, with a wingspan of 82 5/8 inches and arm length of nearly 3 feet, Brents brings height and length to the cornerback room you hardly ever see.
With the Colts hoping to use a little bit more press-man coverage, it’s body types like Brents that are coveted.
“There are not a lot of guys 6-3 playing corner in the league, but he is a really good athlete,” Chris Ballard says of Brents. “He’s a really good fit for what we want to do because he’s a press corner. We think he’s going to be really good at it. He’s a really good athlete and for a tall kid he can really change direction. We’re excited about it. We think he’s a really good fit for the defense.
“When you’re 6-3, there’s a difference. It gives you an advantage down the field because you’re not throwing over a 5-9, 5-10 guy. You’re throwing over a 6-3 guy. That looks different to a quarterback.”
Just a few days before the 2023 Draft, Bradley didn’t shy away from expressing what he looks for in cornerbacks.
In Bradley’s comments, he specified the desire for some short-area quickness, more than straight-line speed.
And that fits much more of the Brents’ profile, which is different from past 2nd round cornerback selections by Ballard in Roc Ya-Sin (2019) and Quincy Wilson (2017), who both were selected before Bradley’s arrival to Indy.
When Brents is asked to describe himself as a player, he acknowledges the rare physical frame at corner, but dives more into how he’s wired.
“Obviously, the talent that God has blessed me with, with my length and things of that nature, being able to use that to my advantage, get hands on guys, deter the route, throw off the timing, things of that nature,” Brents begins.
“(But) I would (also) say just my smarts. I’m a smart football player. I’m real intentional how I attack the game. I don’t go into it blind. Make sure I have a strict plan where regardless if it’s taking care of my body or how I want to go about the process of watching film. So, continue to keep improving in that area but man, just having those different tangibles and then being able to tie it together with the football smarts, I feel like I’m a perfect fit for this team.”
A wrist injury from this past season at Kansas State will have Brents watching from the sideline here this spring.
He’ll miss more than a dozen 11-on-11 sessions over the next month.
But when training camp rolls around in late July, Brents should still have a great chance to earn a starting job.
And he will do that for his hometown team.
“Just circling back to being a young child, loving the Colts, my favorite player growing up was Bob Sanders,” the Warren Central High School product says. “Just watching Peyton Manning, the greats, all those guys and now to be able to wear the Horseshoe on my helmet, it’s kind of surreal. It has sunk in for me.
“Now, it’s time to get to work for sure.”
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