Colts Rookie DT Fili Moala Says He's Capable of Doing as Many Things as Smaller Tackles
INDIANAPOLIS – The way Fili Moala sees it, he maybe has to work a bit harder than a lot of players at his position.
And the way he sees it, that's OK.
Moala, a defensive tackle from the University of Southern California, became the first of several significant additions at the position for the Colts in recent weeks when the team traded up to select him No. 56 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
What the Colts got was a productive player from an elite program.
They also got a player who, at 6-feet-4, is a bit taller than the prototype defensive end.
That makes Moala a bit different than many NFL tackles.
But still, he said, that's OK.
"I know I'm capable of doing just as many things as a smaller defensive tackle," Moala said during the team's recent three-day mini-camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I think it's a little harder for me, because I'm a little bigger. For me, it's just spending more time getting more flexible, paying more attention to technique and executing my play call."
Moala, who played four years at Southern Cal, played mostly right defensive end in the Trojans' 3-4 scheme, and Colts President Bill Polian said shortly after the draft that Moala's experience at Southern Cal and his style translates well to the Colts' one-gap, penetrating style of defensive line play.
And while Polian said after the draft that the Colts focused on getting bigger and better at the tackle position during the draft, he said Moala was not drafted to be a prototypical nose-tackle type of player.
"He's a long-armed, long-limbed guy," Polian said. "That aids him in the pass 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. . . .
"This guy isn't necessarily the 'Big Guy' in the middle. 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."
Moala (6-feet-4, 303 pounds) started 38 of 52 games for Southern Cal, a total that included his last 33 games. He finished his career with 90 tackles, including 30 this past season. He had 9.5 sacks at Southern Cal and 23.5 tackles for loss.
"We like his length," Polian said. "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."
And although he technically played end, Moala said he thinks of himself as a tackle and plans to continue to do so.
"That's where my love is, playing on the inside and doing the dirty work," Moala said. "I just want to prepare myself to contribute – whatever that means."
Polian said after the draft he expected Moala to have no trouble adapting to the Colts' style of play, and Moala at the Colts' recent rookie mini-camp said having played at a big-time program in college, "I don't expect anything different" with the Colts.
"I think the biggest thing is they expect you to pick things up quickly," Moala said. "Once you go over it once, you should be done with it. You are expected to police yourself, and that's probably the biggest change, is being accountable and responsible for your actions on the field as well as off the field."