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Defensive Line: 2021 Position Preview 

The Colts bolstered their defensive line in free agency and the NFL Draft, adding talent and depth to a group headlined by 2020 All-Pro DeForest Buckner. Here's what you need to know about the Colts' defensive line ahead of the start of training camp later this month. 

Who's In

  • Isaac Rochell (signed as free agent)
  • Antwaun Woods (signed as free agent)
  • Andrew Brown (claimed off waivers)
  • Kwity Paye (drafted in first round)
  • Dayo Odeyingbo (drafted in second round)

The Colts used their first two draft picks on defensive linemen in Paye and Odeyingbo, and envision the pair as a disruptive force up this decade. Paye has the talent and football acumen to make an impact from the first play of 2021; Odeyingbo tore his Achilles' while training for the Senior Bowl in January but aims to play this season. The additions of Rochell and Woods add experience and depth, too, which will be important as the NFL expands to an 18-week, 17-game season for the first time in 2021.

Who's Out

  • Denico Autry (signed with Titans as free agent)
  • Justin Houston (free agent)

Losing Autry and Houston means the Colts have to replace their No. 2 and No. 3 sack-getters from 2020 - the pair combined for 15 1/2 of the team's 40 sacks last year.

Who's Back

  • Al-Quadin Muhammed (fifth year)
  • Grover Stewart (fifth year)
  • Tyquan Lewis (fourth year)
  • Kemoko Turay (fourth year)
  • Ben Banogu (third year)
  • DeForest Buckner (second year)
  • Cameron Kline (second year)
  • Taylor Stallworth (second year)
  • Chris Williams (second year)
  • Rob Windsor (second year)

Buckner led the Colts with 9 1/2 sacks, 26 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for a loss on his way to earning First-Team All-Pro honors in his debut season in Indianapolis. He'll be joined again by a strong collection of linemen, including Stewart and Lewis, the latter of whom general manager Chris Ballard was pleased with in 2020.

"I thought Tyquan really came on last year and played good football and we think he can play good football for us," Ballard said.

What To Watch For

2021 will be a big season for Turay, who's only played in 11 games over the last two seasons due to a string of rough injury luck. But Ballard offered some optimism this spring for Turay entering his fourth season in the NFL.

"He was never quite right all year. We think we have the problem fixed," Ballard said. "He's a good kid, he's very talented. Let's see him come to fruition." 

Turay was, back in 2018, among the NFL's 20 most efficient pass rushers as rated by Pro Football Focus. The Colts still believe in the former second round pick's potential, and his progress will be interesting to follow.

Training Camp Information

The Colts will return to Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield for training camp in 2021. Click here for a full schedule of practices open to fans. Free tickets will be required to attend, which can be obtained here. For more information on Colts 2021 Training Camp Powered By Kerauno, click here.

Statistically Speaking

We know how good DeForest Buckner was in 2020 - he was a First-Team All-Pro, after all - but how about the guy lined up next to him? Grover Stewart checked in as one of the league's best run defenders last season, with 10 percent of his run defense snaps resulting in a "stop," which PFF defines as tackles that constitute a failure for the offense. Only five defensive linemen had a higher stop percentage last year than Stewart.

In other words: Few defensive lineman were better against the run than Stewart in 2020.

They Said It

"Now I wake up and am like, 'Man, I have no school. I have nothing to do but focus on football.' It's fun now. Just to be able to focus on one thing, yeah that's cool. ... I feel like I always took pride in what I did on the football field. Now I just get to be a better version of myself because I have more time in the day to really hone in on my craft." - Kwity Paye on the transition from college to the NFL

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