Scouting Report: DT Travis Leitko

The Colts recently added former Notre Dame defensive lineman Travis Leitko and may have found another diamond-in-the-rough player as an undrafted free agent...or have they? Jerry Langton sheds some light on Leitko and how he may fit into the team's plans.

Travis Leitko, DT
Notre Dame

Numbers: 6'6 (6056) / 273 pounds, 4.85 forty (est.)
2006 stats: 6 tackles, 4 assists, 1-3 tackle for loss, 1-0-0 fumble recovery, 1 pass defensed, 1-9-0 kick return

The Player: Coming out of high school, Leitko was one of the most highly recruited defensive end prospects in history. The long, lanky Texan showed all the stuff necessary to be a future star. He was not only an accomplished football player, but also a wrestling champion. He even scored 1470 out of 1600 on his SAT.

Travis Leitko at Notre Dame
Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
He signed with Notre Dame and was eased into the defensive line rotation slowly, while starring on special teams. A lack of straight-line speed led the Irish coaches to put him inside where they envisioned him as a long-armed disrupter, like John Henderson of the Jaguars.

But things didn't work out as planned. Both of Leitko's parents contracted cancer, and he worked overtime to take care of them. It was an immense emotional, financial and mental strain on the young man. Then he was diagnosed with ADHD. Then he he contracted cancer himself.

He recovered and came back to Notre Dame as a fifth-year senior and played sparingly and well, though the rust showed. He signed with the Ravens after the draft, was cut and then wound up in Indianapolis.

As a player, the thing that stands out about Leitko is his functional strength. He uses his arms like blunt weapons. But he has only the most rudimentary pass-rush moves, and falls prey to traps and other trick plays.

Reminds me of: Am I the only one old enough to remember Keith Millard? He was a hardcore dominator inside who wrestled his way into a truckload of sacks and stuffs. Well, Leitko's not quite like that, but he has to potential to become so.

How he fits: Tony Dungy is a nice guy, but Leitko's not on the roster because the Colts feel sorry for him — he has real potential. With Anthony McFarland out, the Colts are desperate for defensive tackles. Still, Leitko is unlikely to make much of a dent as a rookie. Instead, look for the Colts to give him plenty of high-pressure reps to get his feet wet and try to stash him away on the practice squad if he shows any hint of being able to tap into his enviable potential.


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