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Film Room: What does new LT Sam Tevi bring to the Colts?

Looking at the film of Sam Tevi

NFL: DEC 29 Chargers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts have yet again dipped into the free agency pool, as they signed OT Sam Tevi to a one-year contract. Tevi has started 44 games over the past three seasons for the Chargers and at the very least brings some experience to the Colts’ offensive tackle situation. In those three years though, Tevi has allowed 18 sacks, 32 QB Hits, and 101 hurries according to Pro Football Focus. In 2020, a year that was likely his best in the league, he graded out as the 78th best OT (out of 83) according to PFF.

So, I took on the daunting task of watching the film of this new offensive tackle to see what he brought to the team.


Athletic Profile

Tevi was selected in the 6th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chargers. He measured out as a below-average athlete overall with good scores in the 40 time and broad jump but a below average score in the vertical jump. He also scored a historically low score in the bench press for an offensive tackle (something that shows up quite a bit on film).


Opinions of Chargers’ Reporters

Before I jumped into the film, I wanted to get a feel for what kind of player I was going to be watching. I asked my friend Michael Peterson (a contributor for Bolts From the Blue) for his opinion on Tevi:

In all honesty, he had his best year in 2020. However, that isn’t saying a ton. He only allowed two sacks, which is a big step up from allowing eight in each of the previous two seasons. He has above-average athleticism and is a good blocker out in space and on wide zone concepts. His progress last year does bode well for the chance to keep getting better. Right now though, I’d say he could be one of the NFL’s best swing tackles.

Just to confirm what Michael said though, I also reached out to Jake Hefner (Co-Host of the Chargers Brawl Podcast) for his opinion:

Let’s just say I hope you don’t end up using him as your starting LT. A good reserve backup or as a swing tackle he’s fine. Good depth, better as a RT.

The consensus between the two writers is that he is an adequate player for depth but if he is forced to start, it may not be pretty for your offense.


Weaknesses

I’m going to mix it up a bit and start with the negatives on Tevi because statistically, he is not a good player at all. 151 pressures allowed in a three-season span has to be some sort of record. Watching him in pass protection can be a rough viewing experience. Even in his best season in 2020, there are a lot of issues that led to sacks or pressures in the pocket for poor Justin Herbert.

The biggest issue is lack of play strength. He doesn’t move people off the ball and in pass protection, this weakness proves to be fatal. He doesn’t punch with any power and he has the tendency to get bull rushed into the quarterback’s lap. It was so bad that I found myself questioning whether or not the Chargers gave him access to the weight room in LA. He would be a much better player overall if he had more strength in his upper and lower half. I’d even argue that he’d be a quality starter without this issue.

On top of that, he does tend to do a bit too much in the passing game. He has good hands but he is overaggressive at times and that leads to some bad beats off the edge. I do think most of his issues stem from strength and footwork but he could clean up some technical areas as well. He has some good traits overall but until he fixes these things, he is a liability in the passing game.


However, he did grow on me

I was completely ready to write him off and make this entire article into more of a depressed fan’s reaction to the signing than have it be a true film room. The more I watched though, he grew on me a bit. He’s not good by any means and he shouldn’t be a starter or anything, but I grew to respect certain aspects of his game. The best thing was how much he competes on a snap to snap basis. He is always willing to lay it all out there on the field.

I even cracked a smile when I saw this next clip. The late, great Howard Mudd coined a term called the “ass block” in a coaching clinic I watched a while back. Essentially, an ass block should be used when you can’t necessarily make a reach block or your defender turns you around in space. Rather than letting the player go, block them with your ass. I’m sure Chris Strausser, a disciple of Mudd’s, will smile when he gets around to this play on film. Little things like this do fit into the Colts’ scheme and system fairly well since it is a largely influenced Howard Mudd offensive line.

To even go with those two rather small details is the fact that he is fairly good in space. His strength still leaves something to be desired but he can move a bit and reach difficult blocks down the field. A player with his movement skills is vital in this Colts’ offense and it gives me hope that he can be adequate if he ever gets playing time in the regular season.


Final Thoughts

Initially, when the Tevi signing was announced, I was pretty disappointed. Not for the fact that I thought he was going to be the starter—he’s not— but mainly because he looked so bad in any Chargers game that I watched. However, under further watching, I totally get the signing.

He should in no way be in line to start but if he is mainly for competition with Will Holden for the swing tackle spot, then it is a fine signing. He has a lot of areas to improve but he has good hands, competes his ass off, and is a solid athlete. That is nothing to write home about or even get excited for but it is a quality depth move for an offensive line that desperately needed it.