INDIANAPOLIS —"He has the heart of a lion."
That's how Jethro Franklin describes Denico Autry.
Franklin, Autry's former defensive line coach with the Oakland Raiders, also considers the defensive end "rugged" and football saavy, which is exactly what Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard saw in the Mississippi State product when scouring the free agent market for a difference maker along the defensive line.
The Colts today announced the signing of Autry, who could be a key piece for the team as it makes the switch to a 4-3 base defense.
While listed as a defensive end with the Colts, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Autry has shown the ability to line up anywhere along the line, which is certainly an asset for any defensive unit.
"He wears a lot of hats," Franklin said of Autry last November, via Raiders.com. "He plays a lot of roles. We ask him to do a few more things than most of the other guys, and he's on the field a little bit more. He's not a starter, but he is a starter. What he does, he understands his role, and I always tell [them], master your current role, and then your role will increase. He's definitely a guy who's really taken that to heart, and wants to do well when he's in there."
Last season, despite starting just three games, Autry was able to collect a career-best 36 tackles, five sacks and seven passes defensed. In four seasons, he has combined to play in 56 games with 18 starts, collecting 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and causing one safety.
But Autry is also a playmaker on special teams. In 2015, he led the NFL with three blocked kicks, which were the most blocks in a season by a single player since 2011.
So what exactly does Autry bring to the table? Let's check out some of his video highlights over the years in Oakland: