Colts Trade Up to Acquire Southern Cal Defensive Tackle Fili Moala
INDIANAPOLIS – The options were dwindling.
And because University of Southern California defensive tackle Fili Moala was one of the few players available worthy of a second-round selection, Colts President Bill Polian decided the time was right.
So, he made his move.
The Colts, having seen several potential second-round selections come off the draft board, traded their 2009 fifth-round selection to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, swapping second-round selections with Miami and using the No. 56 overall selection in the draft to select Moala.
"He's a long, roughhouse-type defensive tackle that we feel like can help us both in the run and the pass," Polian said. "He's a guy we obviously thought very highly of.
"The pickings were getting a little slim on the board. Everybody we had in the round had gone off at this point. Our board has been accurate. There weren't many left.
"We decided to make a trade and make sure we got him."
Moala (6-feet-4, 303 pounds), who played all four collegiate seasons, started 38 of 52 games for Southern Cal, a total that included his last 33 games.
"I couldn't be any happier," said Moala, who finished his Southern Cal career with 90 tackles, including 30 this past season. "There were some things that I experienced with the organization meeting with them, There are so many good things about the organization and Indianapolis itself . . .
"I couldn't have been happier."
The Colts earlier in the day selected Connecticut running back Donald Brown with the No. 27 overall selection of the first round.
"We talked about it the other day that if we got this as a double that we'd be fine," Polian said.
"We feel we filled some needs," Caldwell said. "We feel we have two individuals that are certainly going to help us."
Polian said Moala runs the 40-yard dash in "about five (seconds) flat."
While Moala played mostly right defensive end in the Trojans' 3-4 scheme, Polian said Moala's experience at Southern Cal and his style translates well to the Colts one-gap, penetrating style of defensive line play.
"We saw him in a situation that's a little different than what he'll play here, although there were times he was down in a true four-front," Polian said. "We like his length. We like his toughness. We like his effort. His speed is good. He's very different than what we're used to having here, but that's fine. We felt like it's a departure, but in the right direction."
Said Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell, "He's a guy who does indeed have some length and some power. He certainly is a very efficient pass rusher, plus a good run defender, as well.
"He knows what maximum effort is all about and does those things extremely well."
Polian said the system Southern Cal employs "is exactly the same."
"They play the same defensive system we do," Polian said. "He should have very little learning curve. The techniques along the defensive line are almost exactly the same.
"He won't have much boning up to do from a playbook standpoint or a technique standpoint."
Polian during his meeting with the media following the selection of Moala mentioned several times Moala's length and his ability to change direction and chase the play, which he called "critical."
The length, Polian said, helps Moala rushing the passer.
"He's a long-armed, long-limbed guy," Polian said. "That aids him in the pas rush. He really has a chance to get upfield and get on the outside of a guard and do some damage in the pass rush. Our most successful inside pass rusher has been (defensive end Raheem Brock). He's the same height, but quite a bit less heavy, so this is a guy who has a lot of the things we're looking for, plus 305 pounds."
Moala had 9.5 sacks at Southern Cal and 23.5 tackles for loss.
"I don't think he'll have any difficulty at all adapting to what we do," Polian said. "The NFL is a different level, but technique-wise and assignment-wise, it ought to be similar."
Said Moala, "What I provide is athletic ability, strength and point of attack. I know I have a motor and can run with the best of them. Those are qualities that have gotten me to this point in my career.
"I look forward to fine-tuning, sharpening my skills and being the best football player I can be and contributing to the Indianapolis Colts."
The last time the Colts selected a defensive tackle in the first or second round of the NFL Draft was 2002, when they selected Washington defensive tackle Larry Tripplett in the second round.
"I have no preference on what position I play," Moala said. "I just love being on the field playing football, whatever I can contribute to the team. That's what I'll be doing."
Polian said while Moala is a bigger defensive lineman than the Colts typically have had in recent seasons, there's more to his game than size.
"This guy isn't necessarily the 'Big Guy' in the middle," Polian said. "He's a bigger guy than we've had. We still need length. We still need athleticism. We still need change of direction. The under tackle is still a guy that has to be able to get through the gap and disrupt. It's hard to win consistently with 275-pound guys in there. It helps if they are 290 to 300.
"The nose tackle is another story. He could even be bigger if you could find one."