Penn State Maryland Football

Then-Maryland defensive back Nick Cross runs toward a Penn State player on Nov. 6, 2021, in College Park, Maryland.

INDIANAPOLIS — Nick Cross’ college film should come with a parental warning.

The former Maryland safety’s highlights are filled with one high-speed collision after another, often separating an offensive player from the football.

It’s the kind of raw violence that nearly had Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay making comparisons to Bob Sanders — before Irsay pulled himself up short on draft weekend.

But it’s not hard to see how Cross’ fast and physical style meshes with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. The original play caller for the Seattle Seahawks’ famed “Legion of Boom” surely can find use for Cross’ downhill game.

“I grew up watching the Legion — Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Brown, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, those guys,” Cross said Friday after the opening practice of rookie mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “Just a great group, a confident group that prepared well. They went out there and played with a certain type of swag, and then they went out there and they were the ‘Legion of Boom.’ Everybody knew who they were. So they were a group that I strive to play after.

“Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, some of the best that I’ve seen do it, so just watching the tape, man, and seeing what they did.”

Cross knows it’ll be awhile before his name can be mentioned in such lofty company.

But Indianapolis has high hopes for the 96th overall pick in last month’s draft. The third of a trio of third-round picks for general manager Chris Ballard, Cross flew somewhat under the radar on draft night.

He doesn’t fill a need as obvious as second-round wide receiver Alec Pierce or fellow third-rounders tight end Jelani Woods and offensive lineman Bernhard Raimann.

But Ballard traded up to get Cross, giving up this year’s fifth-rounder and a third-round pick in 2023 and justifying the move with the belief he’d be worth a second-rounder next year.

He isn’t likely to compete for a starting job immediately in a defensive backfield that also includes Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis, but it shouldn’t take long for the 6-foot, 212-pounder to make an impact.

“Cross operated as the bouncer of the Maryland defense, playing with the aggression and explosiveness to throw opponents out of the club,”’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his draft profile. “He is a chase player who seeks to make a statement upon impact and has impressive stopping power near the line of scrimmage and as an open-field tackler.”

He’s also extremely young.

Cross won’t reach the legal drinking age until Sept. 10 and believes his best football is still well ahead of him.

“I feel like I’m just scratching the surface,” he said. “I started playing safety as a junior in high school, so five years (in) I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface. And I feel like with the coaching here, the players here, I feel like (they) can just keep pushing and pushing me to the next level.”

It will be awhile before Cross can unleash his punishing playing style on the field, and it’s folly to make too much of rookie camp practices.

But he displayed a nose for the football in his first professional practice. After making a number of pass breakups in individual drills, Cross stripped the ball from tryout quarterback Daquan Neal after a long scramble.

The move was a seamless punchout that felt natural and almost effortless.

And Cross said it’s a preview of things to come.

“I just want to get the ball,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the ball. So that’s all I care about. That’s all I want to get, and that’s all I strive to go after.”

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