Looking for Answers: Defensive Line

With injuries mounting, this time on the defensive line, the Colts acted fast and have brought someone on board. Brad Keller takes a look at the new guy and Scout.com's Adam Caplan weighs in on who else the team might consider, including a player Colts fans are familiar with.

With injuries to Curtis Johnson, Marcus Howard, Josh Thomas, Eric Foster and Dwight Freeney, the Colts were facing a perilously thin depth chart heading into the week of practice.

They quickly signed someone that falls in line with their free agency strategy — a young player that is familiar either with their defensive system or a similar system.  Tuesday, they acquired rookie Dan Davis, a defensive tackle from Connecticut.

Dan Davis makes a stop against Navy in 2006
AP Photo/Bob Child

Since the Colts signed Davis as an undrafted free agent in May, he is already familiar with the defense, having gone through a minicamp and an OTA. But, since they waived him on June 11th, he went unclaimed and he has been a free agent since.

Although Davis did not have a storied career as a Husky, he did appear in 41 games throughout his four-year career there, totaling 108 tackles, including ten tackles for loss and four sacks.

He has an explosive first step and uses his hands very well, and it's very possible that he is the kind of attacking, penetrating defensive tackle that the Colts are looking for, as evidenced by the high percentage of big plays that he authored as it relates to his total tackles and appearances. 

The fact that he was considered undersized for the position at 6-feet-1 and 287 pounds coming out of college, as well as the fact that he didn't post huge stats during the course of career, and that he was not invited to the Combine and did not work out at Connecticut's Pro Day were all factors that led to him going undrafted in April.

Buzz surrounding a player can cause his draft stock to rise or fall, but teams ultimately go off of what they see on film.  However, without the benefit of seeing how Davis performed in postseason workouts, it was difficult for any team to pull the trigger on an unknown quantity, even one with the impressive production that Davis showed in limited action.

Even though he knows the defense and has the size and attributes that the coaching staff looks for at the position, he is still an unknown and was not thought to be valuable enough to keep around in June.

In addition, no one has signed him since his release, which lends further to credence to the theory that he is not fit to compete at the NFL level.

The real test will come, though, when he puts on his pads and lines up against NFL competition when the Colts play the Bills on Sunday.  We'll certainly know more by that point.

In the meantime, Scout.com NFL Expert Adam Caplan weighs in on players that have more accomplished resumes, but also have some warts that bear watching.

With the latest installment of his Best Free Agents: Defense, Caplan mentions a number of players.  Below, he identifies the players that could specifically help the Colts.

Rod Coleman: "Solid pass-rushing interior defensive lineman who probably moves well enough to fit the prototype they're looking for. Coleman has had his share of injuries over the years but he should have at least one good year left in him as a rotational player."

Anthony McFarland: "He's still coming back from patella tendon surgery but the former Colt and Buccaneer defensive lineman could handle a fourth tackle role if he's cleared to play."

Rodney Bailey: "He had some experience playing in the 4-3 earlier in his career and would be a fourth tackle."

Bryce Fisher: "He had some experience playing in the 4-3 earlier in his career and would be a fourth tackle."

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