A quick glance at the current state of the Indianapolis Colts roster reveals a few things defensively, including that they need help at outside linebacker and that they appear to have solid depth along their defensive line. As we know, teams like to (and need to) have a number of different bodies for their offseason work and into training camp trying to find players who could stick around, and that could even mean switching someone's positions.
On twitter, Brent Fatig (a must-follow for Colts fans, as Brent stays on top of the Colts' roster and rumors as well as anyone) poised the question today of whether the Colts might consider moving defensive lineman Earl Okine to outside linebacker. The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder had an interesting (if vague) response:
@ShouldntBragBut You might be onto something from what I've heard. Wink, wink.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) April 22, 2016
Fatig pointed out some very interesting comments from the Indy Star's Gregg Doyel and Colts head coach Chuck Pagano last year shortly before the season began:
Coach Chuck Pagano was telling me Okine can play all three spots in the Colts' 3-4 defensive front â and outside linebacker, if you can believe it. Pagano was telling me that this 6-6, 290-pound monster can play on the edge, and not just to rush the passer.
"He can drop into coverage," Pagano said.
Given Holder's interesting hint that perhaps the Colts are considering a position change, plus Pagano's comments from early last year, it does seem like a possibility to think about and mention. Okine, 6-6, 290 pounds, was signed by the Colts last year after playing in the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL). He also played 16 games with the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, recording 5.5 sacks. He also spent some time with the Houston Texans in 2013 as an undrafted free agent in the offseason and training camp before being released. Collegiately, he spent four years at Florida (2009-2012) and played in 42 games, recording 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Last year with the Colts, Okine really impressed in camp and in preseason and actually made the active roster to start the season, though he was waived in early October. He then signed to the team's practice squad, where he stayed until mid-December when he was again signed to the active roster. In all, he played in five games and recorded five tackles.
The question, though, is whether the Colts would consider moving him to outside linebacker. Currently, they have just four bodies at the spot: Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, Erik Walden, and Eze Obiora - three of those guys are at least 30 years old, while the other is a rookie. That's not exactly the most encouraging group, while on the flip side the defensive line seems to have some depth: with guys such as Kendall Langford, Henry Anderson, David Parry, Arthur Jones, Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, Kelcy Quarles, and Ricky Lumpkin in addition to Okine. As you can see, the need is far greater at outside linebacker. That doesn't automatically mean that they should switch Okine just because of the greater need at another position, but if the Colts think he can play there - as it seems they might - it could make sense to try it this offseason, perhaps even playing him as a "tweener" that splits time between outside linebacker and defensive line. The bottom line is that there are options, and it appears the Colts may be exploring those options.