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Why are the Colts so high on Gerri Green?

Gerri Green was mostly a backup for his career at Mississippi State, so why is he valued so highly by the Colts?

Outback Bowl - Mississippi State v Iowa Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Gerri Green is a 6’4’’, 250 lbs defensive end out of Mississippi State (not of the the Miss State defensive linemen Colts fans were hoping to get). What stood out the most to me about the Green pick is that he clearly performed significantly better as a 3-4 OLB rather than as a 4-3 DE. So why would the Colts, who run a 4-3 defense under Eberflus, defense draft him?

Analyzing Green’s strengths

Green burst onto the scene after an excellent junior season, where as an OLB he racked up 5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and had an 84-yard pick six. His biggest asset is his explosive athleticism and first step. He is also extremely flexible on the edge and can easily bend and adjust his body to beat tackles.

On this play, he easily gets past the left tackle, using his quick first step and flexibility in order to get the pressure. In addition, Green uses his long arms and excellent hands to get offensive tackles out of position very effectively. His closing speed to the quarterback after he beats the tackle is also impressive.

Surprisingly, in the Senior Bowl, Green also played a bit of linebacker and took part in coverage drills. At Mississippi State, Green accumulated 3 interceptions and 6 pass deflections. He also showed at the Senior Bowl that he is more than capable of dropping in coverage if needed.

Green has the pass-rushing arsenal and athleticism necessary to make it as a defensive end, and is also quite versatile, something the Colts value immensely. Green is similar to Ben Banogu in that both players have proved being capable of rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. It will be very interesting to see how the Colts decide to utilize Green.

Analyzing Green’s weaknesses

The dip in production after Green had to play defensive end is concerning. He went from 5 sacks and 11 TFLs to just 3.5 and 7. He did not have the strength to play with a hand in the dirt, instead relying on his explosiveness in open space to get past linemen. He also lacks any pass-rushing move, instead just using his speed to gain the outside edge and then rush the passer. This plan will not work against NFL tackles, and his lack of adjustment after engaging is also concerning.

Green was not a factor against the run as a defensive end, posting only 8 solo tackles in 12 games. He was used mainly as a pass rusher, but the lack of production in that department is a cause for concern.

Furthermore, Green lacks a true position. What will he be on the Colts? He has not proven that he can handle being a defensive end on a 4-3 scheme, and he is too big to play any of the linebacker positions. The Colts clearly prefer smaller, more athletic linebackers as opposed to big and slow. Green projects to be a pass-rushing specialist in a scheme where he failed to pressure the quarterback consistently.

What is also concerning is that there is a possibility that Green benefitted tremendously from playing alongside beasts like Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat on the defensive line. Simmons and Sweat were both first round picks, and surely opposing teams were much more focused on stopping them than Green.

Overall I don’t see what the hype is about on Green. Ballard has more than earned the benefit of the doubt, but Green does not seem to fit the Colts scheme at all, and after signing Justin Houston and drafting Banogu (who can play either linebacker or defensive end) I just don’t see Green getting enough snaps to develop his game.