I'd like to share the most refreshing statistic I've read all morning:
The Indianapolis Colts currently have four defensive players on the roster who weigh 315 pounds or more. None of them were with the team last season.
Weight and girth certainly don't make the player in the NFL, but for fans who had to suffer through years of watching opposing offensive lineman bulldoze through undersized defensive tackles like Eric Foster and Keyunta Dawson, picturing real nose tackles like Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney holding their ground is easier on the mind.
They might not be the only nose tackles to land on the roster, though. Chigbo Anunoby, one of the last reported undrafted free agents to sign with the Colts, has the size and skills to make his own argument to play as a Colt in 2012.
The Morehouse College prospect comes in with one of the biggest defensive bodies to put on a Colts uniform in years, weighing in at 324 pounds with a height of 6-foot-4. Only McKinney packs more girth on defense.
So we can garner this from the eye-test: Anunoby is one big dude. But can he play in the NFL?
At the risk of going over the top with scouting reports in my first two stories with Stampede Blue, lets see what a few scouting reports had to say about Anunoby.
Outstanding size, body thickness, mass and arm length. Good core strength. Can stack the point, hold the double-team and occupy space. Flashes power in his hands to jolt blockers. Good production.Negatives:
Heavy-footed with limited playing range. Has no twitch or lower-body explosion. Faced weak competition and did not regularly dominate.Summary:
Massive-bodied space eater who showed he could clog the middle in the HBCU All-Star Bowl, tossing around smaller blockers with ease, and could warrant a chance in an odd front based on his sheer size.
Chigbo Anunoby has a massive frame and really carries his weight well. He doesn't seem soft or flabby through the mid-section and his lower half iss wide, well-built and really powerful looking. Has an NFL type frame.
The 6-4, 324-pound lineman is an absolute bear to move inside vs. the run. He fires off the football low, showcases natural anchor strength and the type of power/balance to extend his arms and fend off blocks inside. However, even more impressive was is overall ball awareness. The guy consistently flows toward the action and really does a nice job locating the ball quickly. As a pass rusher he also displays a little more short area quickness than you would expect for a guy his size, doing a nice job at times working an arm over and side stepping a block off the ball, while also pushing the pocket as a bull rusher.
Impression: He's never going to be a "plus" pass rusher in the NFL. However, he's a strong, long kid with a really well proportioned frame who can anchor inside and certainly has the talent to get plenty of looks from both 34 and 43 teams as a developmental big body.
Chigbo Anunoby is the number one rated DT on my Black College Football NFL Draft Defensive Board. He was a terror on the defensive line during his career at Morehouse splitting time between DT and DE. Anunoby has an impressive NFL frame at 6-4 328 lbs and is well-built for the position. He's explosive off the ball and stays low out of his stance. Shows good strength at the power of attack and the balance to extend his arms to fend off blocks inside. He impressed NFL scouts during the HBCU Bowl week with his instincts and good awareness as he consistently flowed toward the action and really did a nice job locating the ball quickly. Anunoby is a marginal pass rusher but displays enough short area quickness for a guy his size. He also did a decent job of pushing the pocket as a bull rusher. Anunoby needs to play with better balance and must develop more moves with his hands to keep blockers off of him. Scouts also have some concerns regarding the DII competition he faced in college and if it will hinder him being able to elevate his game to the next level. Overall Anunoby is a strong long arm player with a really well proportioned frame who can anchor inside and has been getting plenty of looks from both 34 and 43 teams as a developmental big body. He could develop into a zero-technique/nose tackle prospect at the next level as he physically matures with adding bulk to his frame. Anunboy has grab enough attention from teams during the NFL Draft process to warrant a draft pick in the later rounds.
Frankly, the positives sound tremendous.
Anunoby seems to use his size and power well in taking on multiple blockers. He has a bit of short area quickness. And he keeps his head up and locates the ball past the line of scrimmage.
After reading through this article on the basics of the 3-4 defense, which I recommend every Colts fan reads, it looks like Anunoby played in college like a 3-4 nose tackle is supposed to play in the NFL.
The trick will be how well he can adjust from playing against small-school O-linemen to professional guards and centers. It makes the claim that he didn't dominate regularly against inferior competition fairly concerning.
Colts fans were spoiled by Pierre Garcon and his ability to adapt to the NFL game after he played for Division III Mount Union before heading to the next level. It only took a year of seasoning before Garcon was ready to contribute in a big way on offense.
It's not that simple for most small-school players. Really, it's not a simple adjustment even for players from mega conferences likes the SEC and Big 10.
For Anunoby to stick with the Colts, he'll have to prove that he can handle the big jump in competition now that he's in the NFL. Preseason play will be crucial for him.
Can he make the final roster?
I think so. Because the Colts are in such an overwhelming transitional period on defense, Anunoby's skills are going to be needed at some point.
His best shot at earning a spot is by proving he can be versatile. It's easy to say that Fili Moala can play as a 3-4 DE and Antonio Johnson can step into a role as a 3-4 NT, but really, can they? Both were brought here to play in the 4-3, and the change to a new defense isn't going to be easy for all the players to adjust to. Someone is most likely going to slip up.
And when that happens, Anunoby might be the one there to steal away a roster spot. Judging by the scouting reports, he could provide immense value lining up in multiple positions, playing either 3-4 NT, 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE at some points. It's all up to the coaching staff to figure out what role fits him best.
Anunoby's inability to contribute on special teams has to be taken into account too. Even if he does make the roster, he might be one of the first players on the chopping block if another position catches the injury bug. At best, he'll be the third-string nose tackle behind McKinney and Chapman.
For now, I'll project Anunoby to make the Colts roster at some point this season. He'll most likely be one of those players that bounces on and off the roster for a while, but I think he'll develop with the Colts this season and become decent depth on the defensive line.
I'll finish with a highlight video of Anunoby. You can make your own judgements from there.