So far in this series, we have looked at guys who are in their fifth, sixth, fifth, and fifth years in the NFL. Today we look at a guy who is entering his 11th season.
Way back in 2003 (the same year the Colts drafted Dallas Clark, which makes it seem even longer ago), Aubrayo Franklin entered the league. Ok, I kid about the age, as 2003 really wasn't that long ago and Franklin isn't that old (he's only 33) - but compared to the other free agents signed by the Colts, he seems like it.
Anyways, after that awful introduction (sorry, it's all I had), let's take a look at Aubrayo Franklin. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 5th round of the '03 draft and played 4 years for the Ravens, starting only 1 game total (appearing in 36). He then signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers and played for them for 4 years as well, although he played a lot more for them. He started 60 games (appearing in 62) and was very successful there. He then left for New Orleans in 2011 and played for the Saints for one season (9 starts, 16 appearances) before signing with the San Diego Chargers for the 2012 season (starting 9 games and appearing in 12). For his career, Franklin has started 79 games (playing in 126) and has made 224 tackles, 4 sacks, forced 3 fumbles, picked off a pass and batted down 8 more. In 2012, he recorded 20 tackles for the Chargers in 12 games before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury (it won't be a problem this year, by the way - he's fine).
It has been three years since Franklin recorded a sack, but as his career has progressed he has increasingly become a pure run stopper. That's pretty much all the Chargers asked him to do last year, and he has continually shown that he can do it well. Last season he also saw quite a few double teams it seemed, and he handled those well too. The Chargers wanted to re-sign him, but the Colts instead nabbed Franklin on a 1-year, $940,000 deal.
Franklin also has connections to some Colts coaches. He played for Colts' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky in San Francisco for four seasons, the duration of both of their times with the 49ers. Then last season in San Diego, Franklin's defensive coordinator was John Pagano, who is the brother of Colts' head coach Chuck Pagano. John runs a similar defense to Chuck's, and with experience with Manusky as well Franklin would seem to have the experience necessary to not only be a solid player but a reliable teacher as well. Since most of the players the Colts have brought in are younger, it is kind of nice that they signed a veteran along the defensive line to help teach and one who can still produce.
Franklin is one of four nose tackles listed on the Colts' roster currently, and the others have some uncertainty around them. Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney are both coming off of torn ACLs, and Chapman has yet to suit up in an NFL game in his career. Martin Tevaseu showed promise at times last year but didn't get that much playing time. The health of Chapman and McKinney will go a long way in determining how much Franklin plays this year, but it seems likely that he will at least have a spot on the roster.