Colts overlooked need: Linebacker

April, 24, 2012
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We’re talked a lot about needs for the Colts, beyond quarterback which will be addressed when they draft Andrew Luck first overall: cornerback, safety, nose tackle, tight end, receiver and perhaps an offensive lineman.

We’re expecting Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney to spend most of their time at outside linebacker in a new 3-4 the Colts will be in as often as possible. If so, then some guys who were tackles in the old 4-3 will shift to end in that front. Fili Moala and Drake Nevis would head the list to work with free-agent addition Cory Redding. Nevis was not mentioned by GM Ryan Grigson recently when he talked of free-agent addition Brandon McKinney and holdover Antonio Johnson as the team’s primary answers at nose tackle.

In this scenario, the Colts are quite thin at outside linebacker.

I fully expect Jerry Hughes will get a chance there. The next most notable linebacker names on the roster for a spot that needs a great deal of depth are Kavell Conner and Scott Lutrus. And Conner may be an inside guy.

While Mathis and Freeney will surely be asked to do much of what they’ve done through successful careers as outside backers, the fact remains that there isn’t one proven 3-4 outside linebacker in that group. (And beyond Pat Angerer, there isn’t a guy we know can play inside in a 3-4 either -- though that situational job isn’t as difficult to fill.)

Freeney is also entering the last year of a very expensive contract.

The Colts have 10 picks in the draft, five in the first 136. They’ll need to address linebacker somewhere along the way.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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