While the Linebacker position isn't a pressing issue for the Colts, a simple numbers game comes into play when you switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4: there's one more needed on the field at most times. That means that quality depth is paramount, and with so many other holes on the Colts defense, LB probably won't be the highest priority early in the draft, so they'll be looking at guys later in the draft. That's where North Carolina State's Audie Cole fits in.
Cole was an extremely productive player for the Wolfpack, leading the team in tackles each of three seasons he was a starter. He played in 51 career games, but only played on special teams his first season. He recorded a whopping 276 tackles in his career, which included 36 for losses, 14 sacks, eight pass breakups, and seven forced fumbles. In other words, he was all over the field. The Wolfpack defense ranked in the top third in most of the key defensive categories a year ago, and Cole was the unquestioned leader.
Cole also made a position change for his senior season, moving from the outside to the middle in their 4-3. It's tough to tell how well he'd transition to playing a 3-4 defense, but my guess is he could probably play either inside or outside, as he has experience doing both. Most of his scouting profiles seem to think that he's a better fit as a 4-3 OLB, but others have been tagged that and been successful in the 3-4. When you're projected to be drafted in the last two rounds, it's all a projection anyways.
His combine media session had a funny moment when he was asked about his long, flowing locks of hair, and whether he looked up to Clay Matthews, or had been mistaken for him in the past:
Some but I get more Thor than anything else.
He also briefly moonlighted as a boxer, fighting three times with two knockouts. At 6'4", 246, that's a big dude to be going up against in a boxing ring.
After the jump we have what some draft sites have to say about Cole, as well as all his measurements from the Combine, audio from his media session, and my thoughts on him.
A tall, long-armed linebacker prospect who possesses the size to add even more girth to his athletic looking frame. For his size, he showcases decent fluidity, balance and body control vs. the pass game. Will struggle to get ideal depth off the line in his drop, gets upright and has a tough time quickly changing directions. But, exhibits a good feel in zone coverage, can be physical with receivers/tight ends over the middle, possesses the awareness to feel routes developing around him and routinely gets early jumps on the ball.
Moved inside as a senior and looked like a fish out of water with action coming from both sides. Has the body length, size and smarts most ideally suited to play over the tight end.
Cole is a strong linebacker who has to rely on his power to overtake blockers and make plays on the ball, as he is limited athletically in space. He is best suited playing in close and flying to the line of scrimmage from inside the box.
Combine Media Session (5:26)
After closer examination of Cole, it looks like he wouldn't really fit into the Colts new defensive scheme, as it seems as though he's more of a 4-3 OLB. While it doesn't mean he couldn't transition to a 3-4 OLB, it would just be a guess on the part of the coaching staff/front office. With where he's slated to go (6th or 7th round), he could be a guy they take just as an athlete, and see if he works out. Chances are, however, that Cole won't be a Colt.
For a complete list of prospects and profiles, check out our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.