According to Michael Lombardo, Publisher of SDBoltReport.com, the Colts had a formal interview with Georgia defensive tackle prospect Geno Atkins at the Combine.
Atkins was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, appearing in 50 games and starting 39. During his three years as a starter — he saw limited playing time his first year — he totaled 120 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. He gained a well-deserved reputation as an explosive playmaker on the Georgia defense.
Atkins performed well at the Combine, posted a 40 time of 4.75 seconds and recording 34 reps on the bench press. One of the knocks on him heading into the Combine was that he was too slight and lean, but he answered many of those concerns by showing up with ten extra pounds of muscle.
He measured in at 6-foot-1 and 293 pounds, which is an ideal size for a defensive tackle in the Cover 2 scheme, but a little on the short side to play the position for the Colts, as their tackles tend to be in the 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-5 range.
With the departure of Raheem Brock and the recent trend of Indianapolis being bigger at the position, he certainly would fill a need and could potentially step right in and see considerable time if he impresses the coaches in mini-camps and OTAs. Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir did a solid job of improving what had traditionally been a soft middle of the defense, but neither man established himself as the starter for 2010, primarily because neither is a two-way player that can rush the passer as well as defend the run.
Indianapolis generally looks for tackles that attack the line of scrimmage, make plays in the backfield, and get to the quarterback. At this point, Muir and Johnson are only fulfilling two of those requirements.
Given the fact that every fourth tackle he made in college was a tackle for loss and that he also managed 11 sacks in three seasons in the toughest conference in the nation, Atkins would appear to have all the tools necessary to make a big impact for the Colts on defense.
But, the same could have been said — and was said by me — about Fili Moala heading into the 2009 draft. Moala struggled in his rookie season and generally only saw the field from the sidelines. Players are judged on a player-by-player basis and history is not supposed to factor into decision-making, but it often does and cannot necessarily be ignored.
Another potential issue with selecting Atkins is that he's currently ranked seventh at his position and 64th overall according to Scout.com. At the moment, that would mean he would be available for Indianapolis when they select 63rd overall at the tail end of the second round.
But, given his Combine performance, college production at a major program, and what scouts will see when they take a look at the film, that ranking will only go up. That means that he could potentially rise to the top 50 and force the Colts into a decision at the end of the first round. They could reach and select him, or they could take their chances on him being available when they pick in Round 2.
Atkins told Lombardo that he will stand on his Combine numbers and didn't work out at his Pro Day on Tuesday, instead focusing on position drills. If he shined in those drills, he may price himself out of the Colts range (coverage of the Bulldogs' Pro Day is here). It's easy to see how he could help the team, but it's also easy to see how he could help the other 31 teams in the league and it's a sure bet that those teams see it as well.
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