INDIANAPOLIS — If the offensive linemen on the Indianapolis Colts' roster learned anything throughout the 2016 season, it was that versatility — the ability to effectively play multiple positions up front — is a valuable asset.
That word, versatility, is part of Joe Philbin's core teachings as the Colts' offensive line coach, and when the team experienced multiple injuries along the offensive line throughout the 2016 season, Philbin counted on multiple players to shift away from their primary positions and fill in at other spots when needed.
It's that very reason that Dan Feeney knows not to limit himself to just one position heading into April's NFL Draft. Though he excelled as a right guard in a tremendous career with the Indiana Hoosiers, Feeney said he'll play inside or outside — and has even been working on his snapping in case a team would ever need him to fill in at center.
"I mean, probably interior more than on tackle," Feeney said when asked where NFL teams projected he would play. "But I'll play everywhere. It doesn't really matter to me … I'm trying to learn every position on the line.
"Just versatility, man," he continued, "that's the biggest thing. You know, (NFL teams) only carry eight O-linemen, so being able to do everybody's job (is important)."
Feeney knows first-hand how important it is to be able to excel at multiple positions up front for an offense, as he was tasked with moving from right guard to right tackle at times during his senior year at Indiana, due to some other injuries.
Despite moving around, Feeney not only did not allow a sack last season, but he also became a trusted blocker up front for the Hoosiers' powerful run game, which has produced the likes of NFL studs Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard in recent years, as well as another NFL hopeful this year in Devine Redding.
Feeney stays humble when discussing the success of Coleman, Howard and Redding, and while he takes "a little bit" of pride in their rushing accomplishments, Feeney says the holes opened up because he was simply doing his job.
"I just block the guys I'm told to block, and hopefully they hit the hole," Feeney said. "Those three guys, man, they're amazing running backs, good dudes off the field, and some of them have had awesome careers so far. It doesn't surprise me at all."
Another key standout blocker for those backs at Indiana was tackle Jason Spriggs, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of last year's NFL Draft. Spriggs, who would wind up playing in all 16 games in Green Bay his rookie season, starting twice, has been a quality soundboard for Feeney as he goes through many of the same experiences heading into the draft.
"I've been texting him a whole lot," Feeney said. "Him being here, he's given me tips and tricks just to kind of stay positive throughout this whole process, and just keep consistent and be who you are. I got here for a reason, with a lot of help from coaches and teammates and family."
This "whole process" includes the whirlwind experience at the NFL Combine, where top college prospects are poked, prodded and interviewed over and over and over again by various NFL teams, and then go out onto the Lucas Oil Stadium turf and run through some key agility drills.
Feeney certainly held his own during the various drills, as his time of 7.52 seconds in the three-cone drill was tied for the third-best among all offensive linemen, while his 4.68-second performance in the 20-yard shuttle ranked eighth and his 26 reps on the bench press tied for the seventh most.
Feeney also ran the 40-yard dash in 5.24 seconds, and had a 28-inch vertical.
"I just want to show what I've got," Feeney said of his overall approach as he gains interest from various NFL teams. "Kind of talking to teams, just seeing how I am in real life. Just talkin' ball, talkin' home life and everything like that and seeing how I operate."
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