Positional Analysis: Defensive End

     The Colt's pro-bowl defensive ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis is the best pure pass-rushing duo in the entire NFL today. The Colts also have in custody, the former CFL DPOTY, John Chick, as well as the first rounder from this year, Jerry Hughes. We also have versatile players such as Keyunta Dawson that can play both Defensive End and Tackle positions. Its clear that we have the most talent at defensive end in the entire NFL, however with talent comes experience, and with experience comes age. And that will be the problem moving foward, age. Although we may have youth at the position, and they are still developing (players such as Jerry Hughes, John Chick, Foster), our primary starters, Dwight Freeney and Robert mathis are both past their prime and entering declination age. Also we have several contracts expiring this off-season for players such as Keyunta Dawson. Although we may have the most talented core of defensive ends in the league, it may be the most unstable going moving foward. More after the jump.

     Defensive End is the most important part of a tampa-2 schemed defense. Their job is to apply pressure to the quarterback and make him rush a throw, which makes your entire secondary look better by forcing bad decisions, and therefore turnovers. Legendary defensive end coach, John Teerlink, teaches his players to "play the run while going for the quarterback". This is exactly why it always looks like our players look out of position during rushing plays, they shutdown a zone, and forces the runningback to hit the 'gap' left open by the defensive end. After that, it is the linebackers job to hit the gap, and tackle any ball-carrier that goes through it. However, players like Clint Session and Phillip Wheeler, who both are considered starters on the Colts (or once were starters, in Wheelers case) aren't well disciplined in gap maintainance, and hit the wrong gap. This is exactly how we allow runs of 10+ yards (that and the fact our DTs arent getting any push in the pocket).

Since Defensive End is the most important position in our defense, it makes most sense that our best players play that position right? Yep. It also makes most sense that they're paid the most right? Yep. So why do we do stunts, which completely negates the pass-rushing abilities of both Freeney and Mathis. Why do we pay 98 million (around that i think) in contracts to players who we might not even use? To that, I honestly don't know, and the coaches should reflect on that.

Our Defensive Ends:

Starters: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis

Backups: Jerry Hughes, Keyunta Dawson, John Chick

Dwight Freeney is a pure pass-rusher, that can completely change a direction of a game. He demands a double team on passing downs, and still can generate pressure. He may have a variety of moves, but his signature spin move causes Left Tackles to have to listen to a long lecture from the coaches after the play. However, his age is becoming a problem, and he occassionally seems to dissapear from running plays. However, hes still signed for 3 more years, so he should be a Colt until he retires.

Robert Mathis is also another pure pass-rusher and although not yet to Freeney's standards, is playing at a hall of fame level. He isn't double teamed much however, but he always seems to generate pressure on his side. He is also decent against the run, which is a surprise, given his size. His age is also becoming a problem, and he also ocassionally dissapears from rushing plays. His contract expires next off-season, and with Jerry Hughes being drafted, that can't be a good sign from the FO of him being resigned.

Jerry Hughes is our first round pick of the 2010 draft. He is also a pure pass rusher, but is still developing from the college level. He is also decent for the run, despite his size, and due to the lack of experience and game time, cannot be fully evaluated yet. However, he has major athleticism and is the possible successor to the pass-rushing genius that is Robert Mathis.

Keyunta Dawson is a Polian favorite who's contract expires this off-season. However, he lacks pass-rushing skills and is only average as a run-stuffer at the defensive end position. Although he is decent on special teams, I doubt he will be retained.

John Chick is the former CFL's DPOTY. Although the CFL isnt on the level of the NFL, if you are a top player in the CFL, you must have some potential. I havent seen Chick in many plays this preseason, and if he was in some plays, I honestly cant say I remember him making an impact. However, I have tons of hope in the guy, and hopefully he will develope into a great pass-rusher.

Free Agency:

The Colts have enough talent in the defensive end position to not take any free agents. However there are a few that draw my intrest..

Ray Edwards, a pure run-stuffer at DE, and a decent pass rusher. He'll be expensive but the Vikings use a tampa-2 scheme (I think they do.... Do they?) and he'll be well accustomed to our style of play and will immediately improve our run defense.

Mathias Kiwanuka is another a younger Robert Mathis, and his neck injury this year lowered his market value. However he will still be a high profile target, and will still take a decent amount of money to sign. i can't see Polian breaking the bank for him when we have so much talent at the position already.

Raheem Brock is an ex-colt who was let go last off-season. He had a productive season, and has proved he is more than starter worthy. Maybe resign him for 2 years and let him retire a colt? (Highly unlikely but I want to see Brock retire as a colt).

Vernon Gholston is was a former 6th overall pick. He played outside linebacker in the Jet's 3-4 scheme, but failed miserably. However he still has major athleticism and upside and many including myself wants to see what he can do in a traditional 3-4 scheme.

Wallace Gilberry is decent depth that recorded 7 sacks on ONLY 3rd down. He is also looking for a 4-3 team to sign with, and wants to get out of the Chief's 3-4 scheme. Hes a low profile agent and wouldnt cost much. Its possible that Polian lets Eric Foster walk and signs Gilberry as our 3rd down DT.

Stylez White and CJ Ah You will also be avaliable and could provide depth as well as a cool name to say.

The Draft:

Although this is a talent Defensive Line drat class, all the talent will most likely be taken before we pick. So there wont be much chance of us getting an elite lineman. Also, since we drafted a DE last year, I doubt BP will draft one again this year but you never know. Once again, I'm doing quick draft profiles not scouting reports. (Many of the players on this years either don't fit our scheme or have character issues). This one will be pretty short.

Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
Height: 6-3. Weight: 270.

Houston is a decent pass-rusher who is also decent against the run which makes him a second round pick. However he has red-flags in the character traits department, and was suspended for 2 games for violating team rules. He also only had 1 good year, and is a junior. All traits that Bill Polian doesnt admire. However if he is willing to look past that, Houston would be a possible draft prospect.

Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
Height: 6-3. Weight: 263.

Reed is a decent pass rusher with a variety of moves, and is decent against the run. He is a good penetrator for both rushing and passing plays but however is projected to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He also is inconsistant and will get controlled by bigger, athletic offensive tackles and is only a second round pick. A possible draft prospect.

Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
Height: 6-6. Weight: 270.

Romeus has a history of back injuries, and recently got surgery. However he is good against the run and average against the pass. He should be avaliable in the third to fifth round and might be an interesting project if the Colts want a better run-stuffer at the DE position. A possible draft prospect.

Off-Season Priorities:

Develop. Don't resign Dawson, and dont draft anyone. Let Jerry Hughes develope along with John Chick, and if they develope alittle slower than expected, resign Mathis for an extra year. However, the coaches need to realize that the stunts arent working on passing down and to only stunt against running downs. 

As always, go colts and a rec is always appreciated.

*Ps: sorry that this one was so short. I figured no one wanted a DE anyways, but I still researched all the main 1st-5th round prospect. Everyone either will go too high and wont reach our pick, dont fit our scheme or have character issues.

next analysis: Long Snappers... (im kidding)

any requests on positions you want analyzed?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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