Ninety-five days to go! Our third player dissection is the recently acquired defensive lineman, Denico Autry.
Autry began his collegiate career in juco for East Mississippi Community College in 2011, when he helped bring the Lions to a 12-0 record and state championship. Transferring after just one year, Autry became a Bulldog for Mississippi State in 2012 and 2013, totaling a combined 73 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks in 15 total games in the FBS.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in the NFL in 2014, Autry spent the debut season of his professional career floating between the practice squad and active roster for the Oakland Raiders. Re-signing every offseason for the next two years, Autry would spend four seasons in Oakland and rack up 74 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 12 pass deflections.
He’s fresh off his best season as a member of the NFL, starting in three games and having 23 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 7 pass deflections. Autry signed with Indianapolis this past offseason on a three-year, $17.8 million contract.
The Fit on the Roster
At the age of 27, Autry is entering what should be the prime of his career. As a blue-chipper who’s proved himself at every level, working his way to the point he is now, you could expect a breakout year for the defender with the opportunity that’s being presented to him with the Colts.
Autry is one of my under-the-radar guys that I think will have a Sheard-like level of production in his first season with the Colts. Sheard, who was also signed at the age of 27 and is within two inches and five pounds of Autry, will be delighted to have another up-and-coming pass rusher at the opposite edge position in passing situations.
Just like the contract Sheard was brought in on last offseason, Autry will essentially have a prove-it year next season with the Colts, as he’s guaranteed just $6.5 million this season and none beyond the year. Should he maximize his opportunity and potential, the Colts will have found its pass-rushing duo alongside Sheard. If not, this will turn into a one-year flier on a promising talent that didn’t reach his highest capabilities.