For the last two seasons, Jamie Silva has served as the team’s primary back-up at safety and has established himself as one of the team’s leaders on special teams coverage units. Since he joined the team, two realities have been relatively obvious.
First, Silva is the kind of player who has uncanny football instincts and uses his experience as a team leader at Boston College and his knack for being around the football to make plays. Second, the reason he relies almost entirely on his football instincts to excel is because he lacks the elite athleticism of most NFL safeties.
The importance of intangibles should not be understated but at the same time, the limitations associated with not having NFL caliber speed and athleticism have a very real impact on a player’s ability to ever serve anything more than a supporting role.
This is where undrafted free agent safety prospect David Caldwell could come in. Caldwell out-performed all safeties at the 2010 NFL Combine in the broad jump, 3-cone drill, short shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle. His 39.5 inch vertical leap would have ranked third amongst safeties at the combine. His 4.5 40-yard dash speed is significantly faster that Jamie Silva’s 4.78 time at the 2008 NFL Combine.
While Cadwell did not play for a school capable of competing for a national championship, what he did do was play at safety and corner back positions during his time at William and Mary. He started three seasons as a safety, racking up 243 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three interceptions, and seven passes broken up.
His career totals in tackles were just outside the top 20 active leaders at the conclusion of the 2009 season, and 12th in the nation among all active players with 163 career solo tackles.
As film on Caldwell shows, he plays at a high speed on the field. He knows how to make solid, hard-hitting tackles, and displays that uncanny “nose for the football.”
Caldwell has the speed and athletic ability to return, if needed. In his final three years at William and Mary, Caldwell returned 30 kickoffs for 677 yards (22.6 yards avg.) and one punt return for seven yards.
When one considers that Silva is not only asked to cover kicks and punts but has occasionally been asked to return as well, that Caldwell has a background filling those roles and the speed that is more conducive to succeeding in that role, it makes sense that Caldwell could pose a real threat to Silva’s continued future on the team.
It’s another competition at the Colts training camp this summer that could be exciting to watch.
For more highlight film on Caldwell, visit the William and Mary Football Video Highlight page.