Heading into the offseason, Indianapolis seemed pretty set at defensive tackle, with a deep rotation that included undrafted rookie Ed Johnson, the versatile Raheem Brock, Pro Bowl alternate special teams ace Darrell Reid, and the imminent return of Anthony McFarland from injury.
However, after McFarland was released in February, and free agent Dan Klecko ended up signing with the Eagles, the Colts could, at the very least, use some fresh bodies at the position.
They may have interviewed their man at the Combine in Virginia Tech's Carlton Powell. While Powell is a little big for Indianapolis at 6 feet, 2 inches and 301 pounds and a little slow with a 5.14 time in the 40-yard dash, measurables may not be everything, as Johnson will attest — at 6 feet, 2 inches and 296 pounds, Johnson is basically Powell's twin.
Powell has a similar build to Indianapolis starter Ed Johnson
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Indeed, with his lack of a blazing 40 time, lack of production in college — in 38 appearances and 18 starts, he compiled only 68 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and three sacks — and general lack of pre-draft buzz, Powell may find himself in the same boat that Johnson did after last year's draft ... waiting for the phone to ring.
But, while there were questions about Johnson's character and work ethic last year, there are no such questions about Powell.
As for his lack of production, defensive tackles for the Hokies are well regarded by their position coaches, linebackers, and head coach Frank Beamer even if they are often overlooked by statisticians.
In Virginia Tech's scheme, it is the tackle's responsibility to tie up two men at the line of scrimmage and hold the point of attack so that the linebackers and safeties can flow to the football.
He fulfills this function exceptionally well — of the 73 running plays to his side in 2007, the opposing team actually lost yardage for the season, with a total 21 yards lost when they went in his direction.
Unfortunately for Powell, Raheem Brock and Anthony McFarland and their gap-shooting, penetrating ways are more the Colts' style. Fortunately for Powell, though, McFarland is no longer on the team, Brock is only one two starting tackles in the rotation, and the other gentleman, Johnson, plays a very similar game to Powell.
Johnson started all 17 games for Indianapolis last season and, by all accounts, had a very effective and efficient year. He didn't have spectacular stats, but the men playing behind him appreciated his space-eating efforts, with Gary Brackett posting another solid season and Bob Sanders winning Defensive Player of the Year.
Since Indianapolis gets most of their pressure from the outside and the occasional blitz and since the defense performed so well with an atypical "under" tackle in the starting rotation last season, Powell will most likely get his shot.
The only question is whether or not the Colts will be able to wait until after the draft to acquire him like they did Johnson in 2007.
Powell projects as a late second-day prospect and there's an excellent chance that he will hear his name called during the course of the draft. If the Colts are smart, they will pick him up in the sixth round at the latest.