Every year there are two or three players chosen in the 1st-round that don’t have a consensus 1st-round grade. Typically these players are selected by championship-caliber teams that have only one or two holes to fill and choose to do so through the draft.
This year, the Colts are one of those teams that could reach for a player to fill a specific need. Their most glaring needs are left tackle and defensive tackle. Given Peyton Manning’s sixth-sense for when to release the football, the Colts yielded a league-low 13 sacks that past season. For that reason, the Colts will likely try to get by with Charlie Johnson and/or Tony Ugoh at left tackle for another season and address the defensive line in the draft.
One of the keys to predicting who a team may reach for is understanding the personnel they need to run their defensive or offensive scheme. While the Colts have become a more physical defense this past year than in the Tony Dungy era, they still value athleticism over pure size. In other words, you likely won’t see Terrence Cody in Colts uniform in 2010.
In my latest mock draft I have the Colts selecting Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. While he likely won’t receive a 1st-round grade from many teams, he would be an excellent fit as a three-technique tackle in the Colts defense. What Alualu excels at is getting into the backfield and blowing up plays before they even develop.
From a pass-rushing perspective, Alualu would be a huge upgrade over the Colts current interior linemen. Alualu accumulated 7.5 sacks as a senior. The Colts interior linemen combined for just 5 sacks this past season.
Current Colts DT Daniel Muir operates primarily in the one-technique for the Colts. In other words, its his job to take on two blockers and open up lanes for the linebackers. Placing Alualu next to him could create a dangerous package, forcing opponents to decide who deserves more attention – Alualu or Dwight Freeney.
Its the ability to force teams into lose-lose situations like this that creates dominant defenses. Each player deserves the attention of more than one offensive lineman, and each player can consistently make plays in the backfield when faced with a one-on-one assignment.
Ultimately its too early to know if the Colts have an interest in Alualu, or anyone else for that matter. Their attention is likely focused elsewhere this week. But when the time comes, don’t be surprised to hear Alualu’s named linked the Colts in the pre-draft process.