INDIANAPOLIS – With five picks in the 2014 draft, the Colts are looking to supplement a roster that has helped the team earn consecutive 11-5 records and playoff berths.
There have been a number of significant players taken at all roster positions in the last 30 seasons. Here is a review of the top positional choices of the past, the last five or six taken by the Colts and a listing of my top five choices available in this year’s process (these do not reflect the position of the Colts).
TOP DEFENSIVE LINEMEN TAKEN IN INDIANAPOLIS ERA
Winner – Dwight Freeney (D1-02, 11th overall; Years: 2002-12; Starts/Games: 142/163)
Freeney Notes: Franchise leader with 107.5 sacks at time of departure, including seven of the then-17 double-digit sack seasons in club history. With 16 sacks in 2004 became first Colt to win NFL sack title. Nailed 53 opposing QBs and had sacks against 27 teams. Seven-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro. Had 14 All-AFC or All-Pro nods spread over four different seasons. Played in 17 playoff games, starting 16. Ranks ninth in franchise history with 112 regular-season wins. One of 30 NFL players with 100 career sacks. Said Tony Dungy, “Dwight did just what we hoped for. When we got leads, he was such a dominant force. Dwight impacted a lot of things. He impacted not only the play on the field, he impacted game plans of what people even tried to do. There were certain things (opponents) wouldn’t do. They weren’t going to let Dwight be one-on-one and get straight rushes. Dwight was the perfect player for the time and the defense and position.”
Runners Up – Ellis Johnson, Jon Hand, Tony McCoy.
THE LAST FIVE DEFENSIVE LINEMEN DRAFTED BY COLTS:
2010: Jerry Hughes, first round, TCU
2008: Marcus Howard, fifth round, Georgia
2007: Keyunta Dawson, seventh round, Texas Tech
2005: Jonathan Welsh, fifth round, Wisconsin
2010: Ricardo Mathews, seventh round, Cincinnati
2009: Terrance Taylor, fourth round, Michigan
KELLEY’S TOP FIVE AVAILABLE IN 2014 DRAFT:
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Kony Ealy, Missouri
Dee Ford, Auburn
Scott Crichton, Oregon State
CRICHTON QUOTE-UNQUOTE: “I think it’s (his strength) just my get-off. It starts with my get-off, just being explosive and coming right off the line. Then, you’ve got to have technique. I’ve worked on my craft these last couple years. I feel like I have improved and progressed as a defensive end using my hands, using my power, my speed. I think all those attributes help me a lot.”
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
340-, 350-pound guys, and a lot of times when it’s (a) pass situation, those guys have to come off the field. I feel like that’s where I can benefit a team. I’ve played in the shade, I’ve played over the center, I’ve played in the three-technique. When it’s a pass situation, when you want to go to a three-man front, you can put me on the nose guard, right on the zero. I can get pressure from the middle of the offense. I feel like that’s where my game changes from anyone else’s.”
Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
HAGEMAN QUOTE-UNQUOTE: “I definitely use my basketball skills when it comes to playing football. I feel like being athletic definitely helped me get to where I am. I feel everyone in the NFL is athletic, so I definitely have to kind of stay to my fundamentals to get better. … I tell coaches I play all the way from a zero technique to a nine, just the fact that in college Coach (Jerry) Kill had me play three- technique, two, everything. I’m very versatile and comfortable playing anything you want me to play.”
Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
NEXT: Previewing and reviewing inside linebackers.
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.