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Appreciating Colts Defensive Lineman Denico Autry

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Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Last offseason, the Indianapolis Colts inked unheralded free agent defensive lineman Denico Autry, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, to a 3-year, $17.8 million deal.

At the time, it was a move that generated very little national buzz.

However, since then, it has paid major dividends for the Colts defense.

Signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2014, the 6’5”, 285 pound pass rusher occasionally flashed his pass rushing potential during his first four seasons in the Black Hole—even finishing with 5.0 sacks in 2017.

However, he had yet to consistently put it all together, as he served primarily as a rotational defensive lineman for the Raiders.

Of course, the Raiders being the Raiders, let Autry leave (along with trading All-Pro Khalil Mack), but that’s a discussion for a different day.

In Indianapolis, Autry was signed because Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds saw something that perhaps other NFL evaluators had overlooked, “Get him here,” Dodds told Autry’s agent following the beginning of last year’s free agency. “We want him here.”

In the aftermath, Autry underwent nothing short of a breakout season for the Colts in 2018—as he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

In the process, Autry finished with a team high 9.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in just 12 games (11 starts).

At times last season, Autry was borderline unblockable, showcasing a unique combination of speed, agility, and pass rushing moves:

It’s carried over to Colts training camp (yes, even occasionally against Colts First-Team All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson):

On a Colts defense that features the likes of rising stars such as Darius Leonard, Kenny Moore, and Malik Hooker, as well as now veteran pass rusher Justin Houston, Autry may not be one of the first names that consistently comes to mind for the average onlooker—but he should be.

He’s one of the Colts’ best defensive players and could be poised for an even BIGGER encore performance in 2019.