INDIANAPOLIS — Dave DeGuglielmo is in his first year as the offensive line coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He recently talked to reporters about the state of his position group as it continues through offseason workouts and heads towards the 2018 season:
On his general thoughts on first- and second-round picks Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith:
"Good kids. You know, they're working hard. They're doing a good job. It's still very, very early, but they're very talented kids. I mean, you could see by their college tape they're exceptional players. Hopefully everything — knock on wood — we stay healthy, we'll assimilate them into the group as quickly as possible."
How rare are those traits that Quenton Nelson has?
"Well, he is a pretty good player. Trust me, I haven't seen too many like that. I think he will do a good job transitioning. He's already making adjustments with the guys. I think we'll get what we expected when we drafted him."
When you see the franchise take an offensive lineman at the sixth overall pick, how excited do you get as his position coach?
"I think as a position coach you'd be excited if you got the No. 36 pick, the No. 50 pick, the No. 105. Any pick is a good pick. You know, I've had years where they have given me no linemen and other years where I have gotten a good player here or there. I am very thankful to have two guys way up in the draft. Is it rare? Sure it's rare to take a lineman that high, but he's got rare talent and we have a need. I think our scouting department assessed what was available and we took a really good player and as a position coach — keep giving them to me. I will take as many as you will give me. I told Chris (Ballard) that. He keeps calling me spoiled. I say I'm not spoiled enough. Give me as many guys as you can. I'll take 15 of them."
What do you like best about Nelson?
"I mean, did you see him on tape? All you do is turn the tape on and you can answer that question yourself. There are a lot of things about him. He is very aggressive. He is obviously a thick man, he's huge — just his stature. He moves very well; he's quick. For a guy his size, he moves extremely well. He's got incredible flexibility and balance. I think quite a few of the people from the organization went up to his pro day and just saw an amazing workout, and it just confirmed what you see on tape. He's a good football player, but he still has got to make that transition from playing against Georgia to playing against the Jaguars. Although that's a good team, they're not the Jaguars. There's going to be a natural period of time where he is going to get adjusted."
On how much homework he did on the Colts' offensive line troubles of the past?
"I think you evaluate the guys, and you — listen: I don't think there's a finer group of young men. Work hard. Very, very attentive. They're tremendous individuals outside of the classroom, inside the classroom. Work hard on the field, in the weight room. And there's really good people. Circumstances, revolving personnel — there were a lot of reasons why there were some issues, and some of them should be attributed to the offensive line, some of them not. So it's a program-wide issue that needs to be addressed, and I think they're addressing it from both the personnel standpoint and some of the things we're doing offensively, but there were really good coaches here before. We're going to tweak things to do it more as Frank (Reich) and Nick (Sirianni) would like, and I think the guys that we're bringing in here are suited to what we're looking for in terms of changing a little bit of the personality of the room, maybe; not so much … it's not really apples and oranges. You're bringing in offensive linemen; you had a bunch of offensive linemen and a bunch of good guys, but I think just the whole puzzle has to be put together the right way. And we're working on it. We're doing the best we can."
On how he believes the scheme, the style of offense, can help the offensive line:
"Well, again, I think people read too much into, 'This team does this' or 'That line does this.' Listen: football isn't that much different at any level, and it hasn't changed in 100 years. Now, college football, they do a little bit more fancy, spread-out stuff. But, really, when you think about it, it's about fundamental football: having big people that are aggressive and intelligent, know how to adjust, accelerated vision — know how to, maybe, anticipate some of the things the defensive line's going to do — see the indicators. There's a whole bunch of things that play into how well a line plays."
On what he likes about tackle Austin Howard:
"Well, he's a big man. He's very durable. He's one of the toughest guys I've ever coached. He'll bring a physicalness and an understanding of me, as much as anything. He knows how I coach, he knows he's got the perfect temperament for it, and I think that the addition of a guy like him who played in all 16 (games) last year, a guy like (Matt) Slauson who's played a lot of games in 11 years in the league — you know, these guys are, in our world, they're old men, but they still have a lot of meat on the bone. And I think it's helped to bring a sense of calm and veteran to the room. At the same time it's also showed some of the other guys — because they're both, Austin and Matt, are different personality — it's showed a lot of these younger guys that, 'Hey, we don't all have to be like this guy or that guy. We can be confident in how we do things.' They're really in a mode to help guide these younger guys become what they need to be."
On coming in as a new coach and if he tries to coach the old coaching out of the returning players:
"No. You know, I mean, listen: they got some good coaching. There were a lot of circumstances. I know the previous line coaches; good people, good coaches. I mean, it's just sometimes, it's the fact that they're not playing together a lot, sometimes it's the other components of the offense that makes things break down. I don't really dwell on that part; I just know I need to coach what I teach and how I teach it and the drills that I use. And they're coming along great. This is a willing group, they're excited about trying to learn something different — and I'm changing a few things here or there — but, I mean, listen: there's only so many ways you block seven guys, or eight guys. It's just what you've gotta do. But they're doing a good job, and they're working really hard."