The OLB/Rush OLB position is still in need of some work. It was made painfully obvious when the Colts couldn’t get much pressure against upper tier opponents this past season. Now obviously with Mathis out we all knew the pass rush was going to take a hit. I don’t think any of us thought it would be this harsh.
In my second installment of the draft preview I will take a look at this position and throw out some options the Colts will have come draft time. Enjoy!
1. Nate Orchard-Utah
Orchard is being called one of the breakout players this year. He took this season by storm and never really let up. Orchard is a kid that if you look at his stats for the last three seasons he has improved every year. This past season he amassed 17.5 sacks on the year. That’s an insane number for college football. Orchard is very fast with a nose for the quarterback. He will not slide past the second round purely based on his pass rushing skills. He also plays the run effectively. Per Walterfootball.com, Orchard would prefer to play 4-3 defensive end but I think he would excel more at the rush OLB spot.
2. Markus Golden-Missouri
Golden is another phenomenal athlete. He gets pressure on the quarterback and causes chaos in the backfield against the run. He tallied 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss this season at Missouri. Now he plays in the Big Ten but still for any level of football, 20 tackles for loss is pretty impressive. Golden is very quick off the edge but could have trouble dropping into coverage. It’s reported that Golden showed some confusion when asked to play OLB at the Senior Bowl. Golden was shadowed by the play of his teammate Shane Ray this season but still had great numbers. He would be the dual threat the Colts need at OLB. He possibly could challenge Walden for snaps in his rookie season.
3. Hau’Oli Kikaha-Washington
Yet another amazing athlete to talk about. Kikaha led all of college football with 19 sacks on the season this past year. He also tallied 25 tackles for loss. He can play both the pass and run very well but there is one knock on him, his size. Only 6’2 and 246lbs. Kikaha isn’t prototypical size for rush OLB or defensive end in a 4-3 defense. He doesn’t let his deficiencies in size slow him down though. In 2013 he still racked up 13 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss. Yet another guy who has improved over the last couple of years. His size will drop him in the draft but hey, there is a guy on the Colts whom everyone said didn’t have the size to play defensive end in the NFL. Any idea who that would be?
4. Lynden Trail-Norfolk State
Trail is a guy that has hurt himself with off the field issues. He was arrested for assault before leaving Florida and going to Norfolk State. The only things that helped him was his showing at the Senior Bowl. Trail can drop into coverage and provide pressure on the quarterback. He is the two time FCS Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year and the Buck Buchanan Award winner. He has the talent but he has to put his head on straight if he wants his dream to come true.