INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts want versatile, physical playmakers up front along their defensive line — guys that can get the job done from any position, in any alignment, on any down.
Enter Dayo Odeyingbo.
The standout Vanderbilt product was selected by the Colts Friday night with their second-round (54th-overall) pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, as Indy officially addressed its defensive line for a second straight premium pick after the team selected Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye in the first round (21st overall) on Thursday evening.
"I'm blessed just to be in this position, and I'm happy to be a part of this franchise," Odeyingbo told the Indianapolis-area media shortly after being selected. "So I'm just excited to get to work."
At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds — and with 35 1/4-inch arms — Odeyingbo is officially being listed as a defensive end for now, but he had production all along the defensive line during his four-year career at Vanderbilt. In 41 career games, he tallied 122 total tackles (26.5 for a loss) with 8.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one interception, earning Second-Team All-SEC honors his senior year.
According to Pro Football Focus, Odeyingbo last season logged 113 defensive snaps at right defensive end/outside linebacker, 103 snaps at left defensive end/outside linebacker, 97 snaps at left defensive end, 49 snaps at right defensive end, 24 snaps at left defensive tackle and 22 snaps at nose tackle.
Asked if he had any preference between lining up at defensive end or defensive tackle now that he's reached the NFL with the Colts, Odeyingbo said it's really all the same to him as long as he's making plays.
"I kind of just call myself a defensive lineman," he said. "I play on the defensive line — all across it. So nine (technique) to zero (technique), it doesn't matter. (I play) where I need to be. And I think that's kind of what adds to my game is being able to line up in most positions. So I really wouldn't classify myself in one box. I think leaving that open is what's been a big part of my success in the past and what I've done to this point."
Odeyingbo should fit right in playing at defensive end with the likes of Paye, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay, Isaac Rochell or Ben Banogu, sliding inside and playing with the likes of DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart or Taylor Stallworth, or being more of a versatile inside-out piece, much like Tyquan Lewis.
"A big part of my game my physical attributes and trying to impose my will on other players," Odeyingbo said. "So, yeah, I definitely feel like I bring that physicality to my game and I think that kind of physicality and motor show up on my tape, and that type of relentlessness. I definitely think I fit that bill and will be a great addition to this franchise."
The Colts will have to exercise some patience with Odeyingbo, however, as he is recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in January while training for the Senior Bowl. Odeyingbo said tonight that he's three months in to his "road to recovery" and is "working hard to get back as soon as possible," but doesn't yet have an exact date in mind for his possible return to football activities.
"For me, I believe everything happens for a reason. So that's kind of the mentality I came in with," he said. "I really didn't give myself time to feel sorry for myself (after the injury). I'm trying to attack it full force ahead. So do I feel like it dropped me (in the draft)? I mean, it's a possibility. I personally feel like I'm a very talented athlete. I'm blessed to be in this position. So do I feel like I could've ended up going higher had I had a Senior Bowl and pro day? I mean, that's very much a possibility and I know injuries do drop people, so there's no telling, but I'm happy exactly where I am. I know that I'm going to the right situation, so, yeah, I'm just really excited."
The Colts continued to add to their defense in the NFL Draft by drafting Vanderbilt defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo with the 54th overall pick Friday night.