The Indianapolis Colts are one of the few teams that haven’t at least tinkered with the 3-4 defense in recent years. But that’s about to change.
The hiring of Chuck Pagano from the Ravens means the Colts defensive philosophy will change, as Pagano has already stated he is bringing Baltimore’s hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense with him.
While this does mean changes will be coming, it might not be as drastic a change as you may assume. For starters, over the past few years the Ravens have actually lined up in a base 4-3 defense more often than their 3-4. Assuming Pagano sticks with this strategy, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (assuming he’s re-signed) won’t need to make significant adjustments.
What the Colts do need, however, is a true nose tackle for those instances where they line up in a standard 3-4. Antonio Johnson could probably fill that role if absolutely necessary, but he isn’t a true space-eater like Pagano had in Baltimore with Terrence Cody
Obviously the Colts won’t be addressing this need in the 1st round, but there are a few options for them in round two or three:
1. Dontai Poe, Memphis – As the consensus top-rated nose tackle, there’s a decent chance Poe comes off the board in the 1st round. If he does slide to the 2nd round, however, he should be high on the Colts draft board.
2. Josh Chapman, Alabama – Chapman would be a slight reach at the top of round two, but would be a nice fit in Indianapolis. He has experience in the 3-4 defense at Alabama, which would make his transition to the NFL fairly easy.
3. Alameda Ta’amu, Washington – Ta’amu is more likely to be an option for the Colts in the 3rd round. He’s limited athletically, and more of a true space-eater who won’t be a three-down lineman at the next level.