There’s no secret that the Indianapolis Colts need to get better on the defensive interior in the 2020 offseason. Only Grover Stewart and Denico Autry are promising interior defenders under contract and the team really could use more consistent pressure from the inside. Ideally, Ballard could find a player who has the size and experience to play at both 1-tech and 3-tech who has a penchant for creating disruption and getting after the quarterback.
As a part of the this year’s Anthony Arena Memorial NFL Draft Guide, I have been assigned to scout interior defensive linemen and edge defenders. In my film review to date, only a few players have the desired skill set and of them only Ross Blacklock has a chance to slip into the second round.
Blacklock measured in at the NFL Combine at 6’3” and 290 lbs., ideal numbers for what the Colts want to do. He has the frame to carry more weight if needed and run a sub 5 second 40-yard dash. In his junior season, he tallied 40 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. The biggest red flag on his resume is that he suffered an Achilles injury that cost him all of his sophomore season.
During his time at TCU, Blacklock moved all around the defensive interior. He played in a scheme that often shifted at the line of scrimmage and was responsible for twisting and stunting to create confusion for opposing offensive linemen. He relentlessly attacked gaps and found ways to penetrate, clogging up running lanes and moving quarterbacks off of their spot.
TCU's Ross Blacklock is listed at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds and has some really nice lateral quickness along the defensive front. pic.twitter.com/Baz8BvLscc— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) January 11, 2020
Tell me....Who wanted this more??— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) January 14, 2020
Yep DT Ross Blacklock pic.twitter.com/Jnh6DiANNV
Some of the most valuable prospects in the draft are comfortable at numerous positions. Blacklock could play at the 3-tech position on early downs and move over to 1-tech on passing downs. With an NFL training program and positional coaches, Blacklock could focus on one position and flash even more as an interior pass rush prospect.
Dude false started and Ross Blacklock still beat him lol. He’s very quick pic.twitter.com/X7xTstA6lA— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 6, 2020
Oh, okay Ross Blacklock (90). I see you big fella! Little bit flexible aren't we? pic.twitter.com/57H8G0z1D7— Dalton Miller (@DaltonBMiller) February 8, 2020
As with all draft prospects, Blacklock is imperfect. He could continue to develop his pass rush repertoire and could improve his play strength and anchor by focusing on keeping his pad levels down. If he does improve in these areas, he could become an above average interior defender in the NFL and help a team looking to create pressure from the inside.
A final key aspect that could stand out for Blacklock to Colts front office is the energy he brought to his team as a vocal leader on an off of the field. See the following short videos for examples.