The Colts lost two former starters after the season when they cut Josh Williams and Larry Tripplett signed with Buffalo. But the truth is that Williams always seemed to be injured and never added all that much. And while Tripplett recorded four sacks in 2005, he only had one in the previous 45 games, many of which he started. His impressive stats were probably helped by the fact that he was facing guards and centers already hammered by starters Corey Simon and Montae Reagor, often after the Colts had a big lead.
While Tripplett had a great deal of value as a third tackle, the Colts could ill-afford the $10 million Buffalo gave him if he was going to be coming off the bench. Luckily, they still have their starters and a surprising deal of low-buck depth. Simon's stats (no sacks, 4 TFL) may not look impressive, but he used his size (those are some thick thighs), strength and quickness to dominate inside and absorb blockers to allow other defenders to make big plays. Reagor (5.5 sacks, 4.5 TFL), on the other hand, is an undersized gap-shooter who can make huge plays, but only if he's rested and protected.
With Tripplett gone, the Colts will be depending on 2005 third rounder Sweet Pea Burns, who missed his rookie season but has a great deal of promise. He's a one-gap penetrator who'd play end for most teams, but could be effective inside if he's not asked to do too much. With Burns and Williams out for most of 2005, the fourth tackle job fell to undrafted rookie Darrell Reid (no sacks, 1 TFL). Big and strong with an uncommon determination to get the job done, Reid exceeded expectations as a rookie and the Colts have high hopes for him in 2006.
What they'll do
The Colts will add at least one defensive tackle with a good chance of making the team (perhaps on the draft's first day) and audition others later on.
There are lots of options at the position in the draft and the Colts would be smart to pay attention to guys with quick first steps like LSU's Kyle Williams (4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL), Virginia Tech's Jonathan Lewis (4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL) and Texas' Rodrigue Wright (4.5 sacks, 13 TFL). Much has been made of the fact that the Colts have reportedly taken a look at Southern Cal's La Juan Ramsey (1 sack, 6.5 TFL). He's a bit lanky, but gets off the line in a hurry and always seems to know where the ball is. Of course, they'll also audition lots of lesser-known but productive players like Texas State's Fred Evans (5 sacks, 18 TFL) or Southeast Louisiana's Derrick Mincey (7 sacks, 12 TFL in 2004) as second-day picks or undrafted free agents.
The State of the Colts: Defensive Tackles