2014 NFL Free Agency: Evan Dietrich-Smith could work with the Colts

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Stampede Blue's free agency series discusses potential players the Indianapolis Colts should target when the new league year begins March 11th.

The first offensive lineman we recommended at a possible free agent candidate for the Colts was a cheap, one-year stop gap who happens to be 35-years-old. With Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith, the suggestion here is that signing a somewhat young (27), talented trench player is a better option over letting Khaled Holmes develop.

Basically, by signing Dietrich-Smith, the Colts would be giving up on Holmes, who would never get a chance to play.

I personally am against the Colts signing alone along the interior of the offensive line that would soak up significant amounts of cap space. Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus were expensive free agent additions last year, and there is still the future contract of left tackle Anthony Castonzo to consider. Right now, the man who protects Andrew Luck's blindside makes peanuts.

However, if the Colts felt compelled to add another youngish veteran in the trenches, Dietrich-Smith is the guy I'd want.

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Center

6'2

297 lbs

For Colts fans, Evan Dietrich-Smith is the guy who took Jeff Saturday's job away from him in 2012 after it was obvious the former Colts great was washed up. Now, Dietrich-Smith is a pending, unrestricted free agent, and it seems the Packers have little interest in re-signing or tagging him.

At 6'2, 297 lbs, he's a bit undersized. However, all you have to do is look at the job he and his linemate's did blocking for rookie running back Eddie Lacy last year and you'd see Dietrich-Smith is more than capable of creating rushing lanes. Dietrich-Smith's run block ranking, via PFF, is 3.7 and his pass block ranking was 6.1. Overall, he was the 8th best center ranked by PFF to have at least 750 snaps.

More importantly, Dietrich-Smith seemed to get better as the year went on, as his PFF rankings shows. His best game of the year was Week 17 against the Bears (3.9), a game that was, effectively, a playoff match-up.

It remains to be seen if Dietrich-Smith is genuinely as good as 2013 suggests he was or if this is yet another example of a "contract year player."

SB Nation's Packers blog, Acme Packing Company, reviewed Dietrich-Smith's play at the end of the year and concluded that, for an undrafted guy, he's exceeded expectations. However:

Still, at times Dietrich-Smith appeared to be overmatched against some of the NFL's elite inside pass rushers. At this point, for an undrafted free agent, Dietrich-Smith has overachieved. He is the best option the Packers have not only in 2013, but also in the immediate future.

Well, it seems the Packers themselves disagree with writer Dan Turczynski's assessment, but I see where Dan is coming from. It's important to have continuity between the quarterback and center. I mean, one guy spends nearly half his career with his hand up against the other guys ass! Might as well be familiar with the dude!

The other important factor is that the center be good. Dietrich-Smith is good. Samson Satele isn't. In 2012, Satele signed a 3-year, $10.8 million deal with the Colts. I have no issue with Dietrich-Smith being given a contract like that. It's what he's worth, and he's earned it.

Then again, I thought signing Satele back in 2012 was a good idea, and I guess it was at the time. Now, I'd gladly have Dietrich-Smith on the Colts for that money.

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