- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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A 3-4 nose tackle has been featured on virtually every list of Indianapolis' needs.
Having a guy who can demand multiple blockers in the middle is a necessity if Chuck Pagano is going to be able to play his preferred front as the team transitions from a 4-3.
GM Ryan Grigson told Indianapolis reporters Wednesday that Brandon McKinney, a free-agent addition who played for Pagano in Baltimore, and holdover Antonio Johnson can man the position. McKinney was listed at 6-foot-2, 345 pounds and Johnson as 6-3, 310 last season.
“We have two really big (players), McKinney and Mookie (Johnson) are both big guys and they fit that mold at nose for us,” Grigson said. “Again, you are always looking to improve. Nose is another thing, like when we signed Brandon and Brandon is a good player coming from a top defense which is comforting to know. Backup or not, if you are a backup on the Ravens and you have a handful of starts you are probably pretty darn good. The film doesn’t lie. He is a very strong, hard guy to move.
“There are not many people in the draft, free agency or really on planet Earth that are 350 that can play this game. There are not many of them. They are hard to find, but once you find them you have to hang on to them and you have to try to acquire the best ones you can because it is a very important piece in our defense.”
McKinney certainly eases the desperation of the Colts at the spot.
Scouts Inc. described him this way at the start of free agency.
McKinney is a massive body with great power and limited athleticism. He can anchor well versus the run but lacks quickness and range to make plays outside the tackle box. He flashes power to push the pocket but is very limited in rushing the passer. McKinney has good pop and power to stymie blockers at the point of attack but is inconsistent to disengage to the ball. He does a nice job restricting running lanes and is best on goal-line and short-yardage situations.
They can play with him as their front-line nose, for sure.
Johnson is hardly the prototype, however. He’s been part of a 4-3 front during his five seasons with the Titans and Colts.
Like at many positions, the Colts could use depth at nose tackle.