Indianapolis tried out defensive ends Rodrique Wright and Ryan Kees last week.
Wright played his college ball at Texas, where he saw action in 13 of their games with nine starts as a true freshman in 2002. He started 45 games at defensive tackle in four seasons with the Longhorns and started in their national championship victory over Southern Cal following the 2005 season.
He was considered to be a solid tackle prospect heading into the 2006 draft, but fell all the way to the seventh round where the Dolphins picked him up with the 226th overall selection. The reason he dropped off the draft boards of most teams is that it was later revealed that he had a torn rotator cuff which required surgery.
He was inactive for the 2006 season for the Dolphins but saw extended action as an end in their 3-4 scheme in 2007, appearing in 13 games with nine starts, 38 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pass defended.
He fell out of favor with the Tony Sparano/Bill Parcells regime and did not see the field in 2008. He was released by the Dolphins in the final cutdown to 53 players on Sept. 5, 2009 and has remained a free agent since.
Given his experience at tackle in the 4-3 scheme that the Longhorns deploy and the fact that he's too big to play end for the Colts at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, Indianapolis is no doubt looking at him to play either nose tackle or under tackle in their scheme. Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir are set in their starting roles, but Wright could become part of a rotation with rookie Fili Moala, who has come on of late and has finally seen some action as the regular season has wound down.
But, he could also have been brought in to motivate Moala — or to replace him, as the young tackle prospect has yet to impress the coaching staff. The issue is that Wright has not played the tackle position in some time. As an end in the 3-4 scheme, he is certainly accustomed to occupying blockers in order to free up the linebackers, but ends primarily play a two gap technique in the 3-4 and the Colts are looking for a strong one gap player.
The fact that he was able to register the sacks that he did in a scheme where the ends do not get many shots at the quarterback and his numbers at Texas suggest that he has some pass-rushing ability, which is sorely needed at the tackle position for Indianapolis.
At this point in the season, the Colts would most likely need a more polished player, but it's also easy to see where Wright could fit into the defense provided his snaps are limited to giving Johnson or Muir a breather. Wright is also very young for a four-year veteran at only 25, so they could be looking at him with an eye towards 2010.
Kees played collegiately at Division II Cloud State and was signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent. He did not see any action with the Lions in 2009 and was not offered a future contract after their season ended in Week 17, so he is free to sign with any team.
He had 22 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his two seasons of significant action with the Huskies, which is not the kind of production that Indianapolis typically looks for from a player that faced a lower level of competition.
Curtis Johnson — who was unable to hang on with the team in 2009 after playing in 2008 — was considerably more productive as an amateur but struggled to make the transition to the pro game.
But, Kees has the kind of frame at 6-foot-5 and 276 pounds to be an intriguing prospect with practice squad potential. He is already familiar with the Cover 2 defense from his days in Detroit and may have a future with the team as a situational pass rusher.
As far as 2009 is concerned, the Colts have enough depth and options at the end position that they do not need to pursue Kees for this season provided everyone stays healthy. Whenever their season ends, Kees would be a solid candidate to receive a 2010 contract from the team if they do not feel as though they need to retain everyone from the current practice squad.
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