22. Indianapolis Colts: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State. It's the perfect year for the Colts to finally upgrade their always-in-flux defensive tackle position. Paea is a brute, but also a rock solid athlete that could play one-technique or three-technique for Indy.
Should the Colts draft Paea, I'd think he'd be used more as the one-tech. Guys like Daniel Muir and Fili Moala may be below average tackles, but they can do the job (aka, suck less than normal) playing three-technique. As a 'nose tackle' in the Tampa-2, both Moala and Muir stink. Look no further than the last few games of the season, including the playoff loss to the Jets.
We brought this stat up as the regular season closes, but we'll bring it up again for clarity sake. For much of the 2010 season, Fili Moala and Daniel Muir were the starting DTs. On opening day, the decision to start Moala came as a surprise for many of us.
Needless to say, both Moala and Muir sucked as starting tackles.
Their inept play contributed to the Colts surrendering an appalling 1,713 yards rushing on 354 carries at 4.8 yards a carry. Anyone thinking a Colts team can win a Super Bowl with rushing stats THAT BAD is living in a fantasy world. And unlike 2006, there was no Bob Sanders or Rob Morris to swoop in and erase the mistakes of the DTs.
However, after the Dallas Cowboys game, in which the Colts surrendered 217 rushing yards at home, the Colts benched Muir and finally started Antonio Johnson once again. 'Mookie,' as we all know him, was the team's best DT in 2009. He was also the best DT we had in 2010, but for some stupid reason Jim Caldwell wouldn't play him. Speculation swirled that he was hurt, but since Mookie never appeared on the injury report, he wasn't hurt (if he was, and the Colts didn't report it, that makes them cheaters).
With Mookie reinserted as a starter, the Colts went 4-0 to close out their season. During that stretch of games, they allowed 371 rushing yards on 92 carries at 4 yards a carry. That's 92 rushing yards a game compared to the 143 yards a game surrendered from Week One to Thirteen.
Despite a revolving door at linebacker and in the secondary, the Colts run defense was very respectable during that four game stretch. A big reason why was Mookie. His rock solid play at the NT position in the Tampa-2 allowed Moala to look less pathetic than he normally plays.
However, during Week Seventeen against the Titans, Mookie got hurt. He did not play the following week against the Jets in the playoffs, and the result was a Jets win behind 169 rushing yards (4.4 a carry). Daniel Muir and Fili Moala started that game, and as they had done from Weeks One to Thirteen, they stunk up the place.
As high a priority as a left tackle (or any offensive linemen) is, DT is a very close second on the Colts draft needs list. If Indy trots out Fili Moala and Daniel Muir again as their starting tackles in 2011, it simply isn't worth paying attention to this team. The over-used Albert Einstein quote (Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) is appropriate when discussing the Colts defensive tackle weaknesses and management's 'efforts' to correct them. Muir and Moala are terrible. Expecting them both to 'get good' in time for 2011 is not a realistic expectation. Both are serviceable back-ups. Not starters.
Someone like Stephen Paea at least as the potential to be a solid starter. Moala's and Muir's potential is tapped out. 4.8 a carry is who they are.