CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 15: Derek Wolfe #95 of the Cincinnati Bearcats tackles Dominique Brown #10 of the Louisville Cardinals during the game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
For the first time in a while, the Colts did a little bit of free agent spending, including on DE Cory Redding, who joins his former Defensive Coordinator, Chuck Pagano with the Colts. Depth always seems to be an issue with the Colts and the Defensive front (especially with most of the old DE transitioning to OLB), and the DL is one of the best positions to add depth late in the draft. One of those guys that should be on the Colts radar is Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe, Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year last year.
Wolfe really came into his own as a Senior, leading the Big East in sacks (9.5), where he ranked 16th nationally, and in tackles for loss (21.5), which ranked him 5th nationally. For his career he totaled 162 tackles, 37 for a loss, and 19.5 sacks, so you can see he had basically half his production just in his senior season. In fact, when asked about it at the Combine, he said he couldn't stomach even watching tape of his Junior season it was so bad:
I can't watch it. It makes me sick. I honestly can't watch it. It doesn't seem like me out there. I'm not running to the ball, I'm not playing like I know how to play, so I don't like to watch it.
With any player that has a big jump in production from one year to the next, you have to be skeptical whether he was just a one-hit wonder, so to speak, and he won't be able to do it again. However, in talking with him, it seemed like he changed his whole approach to training and practice, both physically and mentally. It also was a matter of depth, as his Junior season had lost a ton of seniors from their 12-1 team the year before, so he was being asked to play way more snaps than he should have been. Last season, with a deeper rotation, he could rest for a few plays and go full-out on the others.
Wolfe played a 4-3 Defensive Tackle for the Bearcats, but also said he did run a few plays as a Defensive End, giving him the kind of versatility teams are looking for. He seems to have the ideal size and skills to play the 3-4 DE, which would be a nice scheme fit to the new-look Colts. Being a middle to late round guy, he'll be helped by the fact he could play multiple positions. Asked about the differences between the positions, he said "It's all football." He did play some 3-4 DE as a Sophomore, so he has a bit of experience with it already.
The other interesting tidbit I learned about Wolfe is that he did some boxing training to help be a better pass rusher. How exactly does that work?
Get my hands and feet going at the same time. That's huge in the pass rush, it's all hands and feet. So that helped. Just being in the best shape I can stay in.
After the jump we have what some draft sites have to say about Wolfe, as well as all his measurements from the Combine, audio from his media session, and my thoughts on him.
A tall, long-limbed defensive tackle who coils up well for a guy his size and looks a bit thicker in the mid-section/base than his weight would indicate...A high motor, had working kid who finds the football and uses his length to make plays. Doesn't have the anchor to play inside in a 43 front at the next level. However, as a two gap five-technique in a 34 he's got the skill set to fight for playing time in a rotation and create some negative plays vs. the run.
Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year commanded attention and raised his ceiling as a senior when he was a consistently disruptive presence. Will not draw double-teams in the pros, but can be a useful, rotational contributor in a 4-3 scheme.
Wolfe is a big interior lineman, and plays very instinctively to be a factor in the run game. He is a slow-moving, non-explosive athlete, but this doesn't define his games and he finds other ways to be a factor. He can get overpowered by double teams, and will need to continue to develop his technique to not get erased there.
Combine Media Session (11:55)
The versatility Wolfe brings to the table seems like a natural fit for Pagano's hybrid 3-4 defense, as he played inside of a 4-3 at Cincinnati, but best fits as a 3-4 DE. As a late round selection, he could sit and learn from the multitude of veterans that'll be on the Defensive Line. I think the chances are pretty high Wolfe will be on the Colts radar, just not sure exactly where he'd land in the draft. I'm hoping the Colts get this guy.
For a complete list of prospects and profiles, check out our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.