The Buzz: Free Agent DTs

Colts fans have been wondering if the Colts will sign a free agent defensive tackle to help with the run defense. But who is out there that would be worth a look? Ed Thompson found out from the best possible source -- the league's general managers...

At this time of year, there's not a lot of top-tier talent available to help a team with an immediate need, so perhaps it's unrealistic for Colts fans to expect that the team can fix it's problem defending the run through the simple signing of a free agent who, quite frankly, is unemployed heading into Week 7 of the NFL season.

In fact, it's likely that if the Colts make a move at the position it could be through signing a player off another team's practice squad as they did with tight end Jerome Collins from the Cowboys practice squad. We've already identified the top players from around the league that the Colts might snag from other team's practice squads and will release that story early this week.

But if you want to figure out who the top free agent players are, there's no better way to find out than by taking a look at who the league's top talent evaluators -- the NFL general managers -- are looking at out of the current pool of free agent defensive tackles. In this exclusive report, I'll share with you the names of the players who have had the most visits and/or workouts since the start of the regular season...

TOP DRAWS

Alex Guerrero
6'3/300 pounds/Boise St.

Entered the League:
Undrafted free agent signed by Chiefs, 2006

Released:
July 26th by Chiefs, August 28th by Seahawks

The Player:
Guerrero has had plenty of workouts since his release by Seattle at the end of August, but no one is biting. The Giants, Redskins and the Broncos were amongst the teams who took a look at him, so he's drawn interest from five pretty good teams since the draft. Guerrero has experience at both defensive end and defensive tackle, which should be appealing to the Colts. He's got good athleticism, but he just hasn't found a way to stand out yet at the pro level. The reason he's drawing interest from other teams, but not Indy, is he's got a better reputation as a pass-rusher than run-stuffer. They've got a couple of guys on the roster who already fit that bill.

Brian Howard
6'4/282 pounds/Boise St.

Entered the league:
Undrafted free agent signed by Rams, 2004

Released:
September 2nd by Rams

The Player:
Howard has shown potential to stick at the pro level, but he's been banged up a bit. He had a hamstring problem during the Rams' 2005 training camp, and then suffered a concussion in December that cost him a couple of weeks. But his experience has drawn the interest of two playoff-level teams and a third team that is running the Cover 2 defense -- the Buffalo Bills. If the Colts are serious about not worrying about bulk at the DT position and are going to continue to focus on speed, Howard might draw an invitation. Coming out of Boise State, he ran a 4.93 forty-yard dash. And he's got the size the Colts lean towards at 6-foot-4, 282 pounds. Add an inch to Montae Reagor and about 3 pounds less and you've got an idea of Howard's size. Despite getting banged up, Howard's a tough cookie who doesn't shy away from mixing it up; he was one of the nation's top rugby players in high school.  This is a guy who has been fairly average rushing the passer, but has really good aggressiveness as a run-stuffer. While he's got the speed to shoot the gap and get in the backfield, he's still working on his technique at the pro level and can get tied up at the line of scrimmage by a savvy blocker. Howard has 20 games of experience under his belt and 11 tackles. He fits the Colts scheme and could help against the run, but may not be polished enough yet to really make a big impact.

Chad Lavalais
6'1/293 pounds/LSU

Entered the League:
Fifth-round pick by Falcons, 2004

Released:
September 2nd by Falcons

The Player:
Another defensive tackle who drew interest from the Bills for their Cover 2 scheme, as well as other teams like the Vikings and Titans, Lavalis is a former fifth-round selection by Atlanta. After his selection in 2004, he worked his way into the starting lineup as the Falcons' nose tackle in a defense that excelled against the run during his rookie year. He saw action on almost half of the Falcon's defensive plays as a rookie. He was the starter in 2005 as well, but then reportedly showed a questionable work ethic during the offseason and barely saw action in the three of Atlanta's preseason games prior to his release. He clearly fell out of favor with the coaching staff. He's got the game experience, but the Colts can't afford to add a player who may not dedicate himself to a championship-level mindset.

Keyonta Marshall
6'1/325 pounds/Grand Valley State

Entered the League: Seventh-round pick by Eagles, 2005

Released:
September 2nd by Eagles

The Player:
Drafted for his size and strength, Marshall was a player the Eagles knew would need some training and polish coming out of Grand Valley State. Last year, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson praised his work ethic, but could tell the rookie needed to get in better shape. He showed some flashes of promise as a run defender during preseason contests and landed on the practice squad. He then continued his development earlier this year playing for Hamburg in NFL Europe. Unfortunately for Marshall, the Eagles' depth at DT improved heading into this season and he was released in the final round of cuts. He's drawn interest from teams like the Ravens, Texans and the Jets over the past few weeks, but doesn't have much quickness. He's an effective one-gap run-stuffer, but at this early stage you can't count on much more from him unless he drops ten to fifteen pounds. Ironically, just like Corey Simon, this is a former Eagle who struggles to keep his weight manageable, which makes taking him on for more than just a one-year minimum deal a real risk.

Langston Moore
6'1/ 305 pounds/South Carolina 

Entered the league:
Sixth-round pick by Bengals, 2003

Released:
September 26th by Cardinals

The Player:  Moore worked out for the Colts just a few days ago and reportedly had a solid workout, but it apparently wasn't enough to get a contract offer before leaving Indy. One concern may be that he's landed on the injured reserve list twice during his first four years in the league. ColtPower's Jerry Langton noted in his recent Colt Scout feature that Moore has a good attitude, quickness and strength, but has some physical limitations that are keeping him in the shadows on the depth chart to date.

Darrell Campbell
6'4/295 pounds/Notre Dame

Entered the League: 
Undrafted free agent by Bears, 2005

Released: September 2nd by Browns

The Player: 
An undrafted free agent by Chicago back in 2005, he ended up on the reserve list with a knee injury during training camp, but then secured a practice squad spot. But in February, 2006 he was signed by Cleveland. Campbell was released in their final round of cuts. In college, Campbell played at 302 pounds and was effective as a gap-defender with good initial explosion at the snap. While he showed good instincts on the field, there were some pockets of concern over his ability to pick up the playbook at the pro level. And even though the Colts play a very simple defense, so do the Bears, and he didn't stick with them. The Broncos were the most talented team to take a look at him to date since his release. The Texans, despite having one of the worst defenses in the league, passed on him as well.

ISOLATED INTEREST
(One team visit/tryout)

Lional Dalton (6'1/315/Eastern Michigan): Dalton's in his ninth-year and some fans got real excited when they saw his name. But our sources say he's not very effective against the run anymore. And think about this ... he was released by Herm Edwards who runs a similar defensive scheme as Tony Dungy does in Indy. Unless there were some odd circumstances regarding his release, he's not likely to get a serious look from the Colts. He worked out for the Bucanneers recently.

Sir Henry Anderson (6'4/ 305 pounds/Oregon State):
  2006 Combine participant who was a Giants undrafted free agent. Released in the first round of cuts, he could be a help on rushing downs, but didn't show much as a pass-rusher.   

Jared Clauss (6'4/290/Iowa): A seventh-round pick by the Titans in 2004, Clauss is a good technician and very intelligent guy that needed to put weight on to be more successful in Tennessee. He recently worked out for the Bills and is a decent fit for the Cover 2, but he's had a few nicks including a concussion and two ankle sprains.

Jon Bradley (6'0/301 pounds/Arkansas State):
  Originally an undrafted rookie free agent by the Eagles in 2004, he's been on Tampa Bay's regular roster since  being promoted from their practice squad during his first season. He came out of college with a great reputation as an aggressive, never-quit lineman who could play DT or DE. But he just hasn't hit his stride yet.

Remi Ayodele (6'2/300 pounds/Oklahoma): 2006 undrafted rookie free agent signed has already been with the Patriots and Ravens this year. He has decent quickness, but isn't likely to be much of an impact player this year.

Jeremy Calahan (6'2/300/Rice): A 2005 undrafted rookie by the Rams, he spent most of the season on the practice squad, but got called up at the end of December. After hurting his knee in minicamp this year, he faced some strong competition in camp and was released in the first round of cuts. The Bills worked him out recently but didn't sign him. He still needs some practice squad time.


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