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Colts' weakness: Defensive tackle

5/12/2009

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

We examined each AFC South team's "weak spot" based on its 2008 performance. In this post, we explore the Indianapolis Colts' defensive tackle position.

Defensive tackle has been a long-standing area of concern for the Colts. Indianapolis has dedicated the majority of its offensive resources to surrounding Peyton Manning with the pieces needed to succeed. Indianapolis rarely is a player in free agency; the Colts have a tough enough time retaining their own players, let alone winning bidding wars for free-agent tackles.

Because this formula has been so successful over the years, the Colts also consistently draft near the end of first round. It's rare that great defensive tackle prospects are available when the Colts come calling. Plus, Colts president Bill Polian rarely reaches for need.

The Colts have subpar talent at defensive tackle. The Colts also appear to adjusting their approach to the position. Former head coach Tony Dungy's penetrating-but-undersized interior defensive linemen are being replaced by bigger space-eaters. This was especially apparent with the Colts' recent draft selections of USC's Fili Moala and Michigan's Terrance Taylor, two stout run-stoppers who do not offer a lot of instant penetration or pass rush to the mix. Taylor, in particular, has a nose-tackle's build, strength at the point and overall skill set. The days of starting players such as the 265-pound Eric Foster or the 275-pound Raheem Brock seem to be numbered. I would not be surprised if both Moala (303 pounds) and Taylor (319) became starters side by side at some point during their rookie season.

Obviously, starting two rookies at such an important position against the likes of power-running division foes like the Jacksonville Jaguars and especially the Tennessee Titans is a less-than-ideal scenario. But having powerful tackles that can gobble up blocks surely will make life easier on starting MLB Gary Brackett, another vastly undersized player at his position in the middle of the defense. Getting bigger in this interior defensive triangle probably will remain a priority going forward, but it seems unlikely that anyone on the Colts' current roster would beat out Brackett for his starting spot.

However, the free-agency addition of Adam Seward from the Carolina Panthers was curious. He certainly is not a big-name player and should not be considered starting material, but he is a heavier take-on player with limited range. Seward is more or less the exact opposite of what the Colts used to look for at the linebacker position. It could be a sign of things to come, but in the meantime, Indianapolis once again appears weak up the middle on defense.

It is somewhat subtle, but there are changes going on with the Colts. And, like most changes in schematic philosophy, there probably will be growing pains.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.