INDIANAPOLIS –It's the spot that receives little glory on a defense.
And that position has received hardly any love for the Colts since Chuck Pagano's arrival in 2012.
The Colts have tried six different nose tackles in Pagano's five seasons. A potential seventh, veteran Al Woods, was signed back in March.
A month into free agency it looked like the nose tackle position was once again going to be unresolved heading into the offseason program.
There's a good chance Johnathan Hankins and his 320-pound frame closed that revolving door on Friday morning, when he inked a three-year contract with the Colts.
"They definitely stressed that they needed a big guy like me," Hankins said on Friday, when asked about his visit with the Colts from earlier in the week. "When I came here on my visit it was pretty easy to make my decision and I just felt like it was a great fit for me.
"They needed a big guy that can stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. I think it's a good fit."
What Hankins says he can bring is something that has been much easier said than done for the Colts.
At 6-2 and 320 pounds, Hankins has a more natural nose tackle build and has thrived in a similar position before.
Hankins played nose tackle in his early tenure with the Giants, excelling as a run-stopper.
But Hankins does not want anyone to think that once third down hits, he needs to automatically be taken off the field.
"I want to be a three-down guy," Hankins, who has 10 career sacks, says. "I've been doing that when I was with the Giants the past two years. It's never been a problem. I don't just view myself as a run stopper, even though that's what got me in the league. (Since) I've been in the league, I've shown teams that I can get to the quarterback and I can be an all-around guy."
Any interior pressure the former second-round pick can provide the Colts would be more than welcomed.
Over the past month of free agency it looked like prying Hankins away from the Giants was going to be difficult.
At the NFL's League Meetings a few weeks back, Giants co-owner John Mara expressed hope that Hankins would return.
"We still very much like (Hankins) on our team," co-owner John Mara told reporters recently at the NFL owners meetings. "He's a good player, really good kid. He adds a lot to our team. Hopefully we'll get it worked out. But I have no idea whether that will happen or not."
The Colts would not be denied in their pursuit of the 25-year-old Ohio State product.
Last year the Colts were 30th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.7 yards per rush).
A true run stopper, and a defense that can consistently contain the opponent's ground game, has been the missing ingredient from the Colts truly joining the elite teams in the NFL.
Hankins knows that. And knows why he was brought back to the Midwest.
"They've always been pretty good," Hankins says of the Colts. "The legacy is here. I just have to continue to build on that and bring a ring to the Colts.
"I think we definitely are a playoff team. We can contend for a Super Bowl. We have a great quarterback and some great weapons on offense. What we needed was to solidify the defense and I think we did a pretty good job of that this offseason."
The Colts Sign DT Johnathan Hankins!
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