2009 saw the Colts DTs take a huge step in the right direction, with the emergence of Dan Muir and Mookie Johnson as bigger, run stuffing linemen. The Defensive Line is one of those areas where you can never have too many good players, which is why the Colts should look long and hard at UCLA DT Brian Price. At 6'1", 303 lbs, Price would fit right in with Muir and Mookie in terms of size, which looks like the way the Colts are heading in the middle of the Defensive Line.
Price, a 3 year player at UCLA, started 30/35 games of his college career. Some stats for you:
|2007||14||1.0 - 7||7.0 - 25|
|2008||35||4.5 - 32||14.0 - 54|
|2009||48||7.0 - 60||23.5 - 96|
|Totals||97||12.0 - 99||44.5 - 175|
Yes, you read that right: He had 23.5 Tackles for Loss last season, good for third best in the NCAA in 2009. Also, 7 sacks for an interior DL is fantastic. He was named a First Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and SI.com, beating out consensus top 5 pick Gerald McCoy in both of them. He was also Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Price started out as the clear #3 DT after Suh and McCoy, but recently has started to slide down draft boards after the combine. CBS Sports called it an "uneven performance". I didn't watch the drills close enough, but he did have a slower than average 40 time (5.13), but I can't imagine a DT would shoot down draft boards because of that. It also could be his size, as 6'1" is "short" to some teams. Just remember that Warren Sapp was 6'2", 300 lbs, and he did just fine in the Tampa 2 defense.
Exceptional pass rusher that gets off the ball with top tier explosion. Has a wide array of moves that are developed and NFL ready...Relentless motor that is constantly hustling towards the action. Has a hard time staying on his feet once in the backfield, lack of balance and stiff hips even for a defensive lineman...Gets off the ball as quick as anyone. Can shoot a gap and be in the blocker’s body before he is even set up to deliver a blow...Not a stout run defender that eats up blocks or space, rather a penetrator that can make plays in the backfield...Has experience as a nose tackle, under tackle, and defensive end. Can be moved around because of his athleticism...Price needs to strengthen his lower half so that he can hold up against the more physical blockers and play with a better sense of leverage. If he can do that over the early years of his career, he has the ability to evolve in to a top flight defensive tackle at the next level.
Flashes a quick initial burst to slide through gaps and create havoc in the backfield. Varies his speed and surprises pass blockers with his burst and variety of hand techniques, including a classic rip and swim. Excellent use of leverage and strength for the bull rush...Possesses very good short-area quickness, but taps out quickly and can become a lumbering bear if he has to chase the quarterback...Tough to move off the line of scrimmage with his low center of gravity and great strength...Spends too much time on the ground...Has an explosive burst to penetrate through the gap. Good explosive jolt with his hands to knock a blocker backward...Good lower-body strength to anchor in short-yardage situations.
Price possesses the impressive natural power necessary to be a disruptive interior lineman. He’s a tough, competitive and productive player who battles until the whistle. Has the initial quickness needed to gain penetration against the run and pass. Uses his hands well to shed blockers and disengage against the run and has a variety of moves when rushing the passer.
Price does not have ideal height for the defensive tackle position. Doesn’t have the range to chase down running plays from behind. Only has adequate lateral agility. Can be inconsistent with his pad level and footwork at times.
I also found a pretty good video of highlights for Price, which came with this analysis:
Any time you take a look at a large sample of Price's plays, a number of things stand out at you. For one thing, his jump off the snap is at an elite level. He also has a very strong and explosive base. The problem is, the other thing that immediately jumps out at you, is he spends about a third of his time on the ground, which would be a big problem at the NFL level. He penetrates and takes a lot of shots on the ball, but it is the result of the same aggression level that sees him on the ground all the time. This is the Brian "Price Tag". Can he harness that aggression, still put himself in position to take shots on the ball, and not end up on the ground?
Price looks to be an ideal scheme fit for the 4-3, and could be a great addition to the interior of the Colts Defensive Line. Even though the Colts spent a 2nd round pick on Fili Moala last year, like I said earlier, you can never have too much depth on the Defensive Line. He could also play more of a Raheem Brock role on Running downs, and move out wide and play DE. He has a nose to get to the QB, looking at how many sacks he's had in his career. The downside? He gets taken out of a lot of plays, either by falling to the ground, or just missing the RB after splitting the gap with ease.
Price looks like a Top 15 talent, and if he falls all the way to pick 31, I don't see how the Colts could pass him up. He's a perfect scheme fit, and would be a great value there. I have a feeling, much like Peria Jerry last year, he won't be around when the Colts pick.