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Colts Positional Review: Defensive End

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Next up is another position with Pro Bowl starters and all the backups under contract for next year.

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were dinged up much of the year, but still put together Pro Bowl campaigns, the 2nd consecutive year that both were selected to the Pro Bowl. Raheem Brock played a major role, getting significantly more snaps than either Freeney or Mathis due to his relative health compared to Freeney and Mathis along with the numerous roles he plays even when everyone is healthy. Keyunta Dawson converted back to his college position as part of the general bulking up of the line and the Colts added a developmental DE in Ervin Baldwin.

Dwight Freeney

Freeney earned his 3rd career all-pro nod (first since 2005) for a season in which he racked up 13.5 sacks despite playing in just 14 games with only 9 starts. While health was an issue for Freeney, he was as productive as ever. Freeney finished 3rd in the league in sacks and led the league in QB pressures according to the charting at ProFootballFocus. As always one of the Colts strongest points in run D was around the end on the (offensive) left. Right through Freeney's normal path to the QB. While (also as usual) one of the run Ds weakest points was directly behind the opponents left tackle. PFF rated Freeney as a net positive against the run for the season. Freeney has 3 years left on his contract and his play is better than ever, while the dinged up year was troubling, he was very productive despite the injuries.

Robert Mathis

Mathis failed to outsack Freeney for the first time since 2004 when Freeney led the league in sacks at 16 while Mathis was held to a mere 10.5. Mathis' 9.5 sacks ranked him 15th in the league, but he applied more heat than that number would suggest, finishing with the 3rd most QB hurries in the league according to PFF. PFF also was very positive on Mathis' run defense this year ranking him significantly above Freeney and among the leagues' better ends. This despite the Colts being uncharacteristically bad against runs around (offensive) right end, and characteristically bad against runs behind right tackle. Mathis has two more years left on his deal, and was the healthier of the Colts two Pro Bowl ends this year.

Raheem Brock

As high on Freeney and Mathis as PFF is (rating them the top 2 ends in the league this past year) they are even more down on Brock. They grade Raheem Brock the lowest of any defensive end in the league by a significant margin. While I and likely most of you would agree that 813 snaps (12th most among DEs) is probably more than you want a Raheem Brock playing, I don't think you'll find many that would agree that he's a substantially worse run defender than Robert Mathis, as PFF grades them out. One interesting point is that Raheem Brock's only positive rating from PFF is in coverage (where they rated him +0.5), showing that even the Brock haters at PFF love that 3-4 look Coyer installed.  Brock is entering a contract year, and while I don't agree with PFF's rating of him, I think the injuries to Freeney and Mathis this past year pushed Brock's PT beyond where you'd want it. Brock is a great role player, but I don't think any team wants him getting the most snaps of any D-lineman on the team.

Keyunta Dawson

Again PFF were not fans of the Colts DE, and in this spot I'm more inclined to agree, though I would expect improvement as Dawson re-adjusts to his old position. In his first year back at DE Dawson saw a solid amount of time, but didn't make much on an impact. Still, for a former late 7th round pick, who has made multiple position changes he's doing pretty well. Dawson is entering the last year of his rookie contract.

Ervin Baldwin

Baldwin appeared in just 3 games for Indy, but had a decent impact, with 13 tackles and a QB hit in 96 snaps. We'll just have to wait and see, despite 2 years in the league Baldwin is one of the youngest players on the roster, turning 24 in August.

Likelyhood of addition: High

Raheem Brock and Keyunta Dawson's contracts expire after this year and the Colts don't have a proven pass rusher behind Mathis and Freeney. The Colts could look to add a DE in the edge rushing or run stopping mold.

Prospects of interest: Everson Griffen, Brandon Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul, Corey Wootton, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Jerry Hughes, Jermaine Cunningham, Greg Hardy, Austen Lane, George Selvie, Jason Worlids, Willie Young, C.J. Wilson, Jammie Kirlew.