Earlier Womens Anthony Castonzo 2019 Jersey , Stampede Blue unveiled 6 Top Free Agents for the Indianapolis Colts to consider.Now it’s time to highlight "7 Sleeper Free Agents" that may pique general manager Chris Ballard’s interest..."Earlier, Stampede Blue unveiled 6 Top Free Agents for the Indianapolis Colts to consider.Now it’s time to highlight “7 Sleeper Free Agents” that may pique general manager Chris Ballard’s interest in the upcoming free agency period.7. Darius Philon, DT, Los Angeles ChargersPhoto by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesOriginally a 2015 6th round pick out of Arkansas, Darius Philon emerged as a solid starter for the Chargers last season, recording 33 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and a forced fumble in 16 games (13 starts). The 6’1”, 300 pound defensive lineman flashed impressive interior pass rush push in his first season as a regular starter for the Bolts defense and could be a potential diamond in the rough for any suitor in free agency:Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Philon was their 72nd best rated interior defensive lineman with a +67.8 grade overall, but that may not paint the entire picture of his effectiveness. For perspective, here’s one of Philon’s sacks from last season:Stilly only 25 years old, there seems like there could be a bit of “Denico Autry” to Philon’s game, as a young defensive lineman who simply hasn’t quite come into his own fully yet and might just need a new change of scenery to get there. 6. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Green Bay PackersPhoto by Dylan Buell/Getty ImagesThe 2014 4th round pick of the Washington Redskins saw last year’s free agency derailed because of a lingering foot injury—but still had interest among NFL suitors, including the Colts. Once fully healed, Bashaud Breeland signed with the Green Bay Packers in late September of last year and eventually recorded 20 tackles, 4 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions (1 for a touchdown) in 7 games (5 starts). Breeland isn’t the best player at his position in free agency, as fellow cornerbacks like Ronald Darby, Bradley Roby, and even the Colts very own Pierre Desir are all arguably better, but unlike his free agent peers, he could come at a significant discount. For a Colts front office that appears willing to let Desir “test his market”, Breeland may not be a bad consolation price without having to spend $10M+ annually on a new starting cornerback. Still only 27 years old and with his foot injury fully behind him, Breeland could be poised to be a nice bounceback candidate at cornerback. 5. Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona CardinalsPhoto by Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesHaving been selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Deonne Bucannon saw immediate success in the desert as a PFWA All-Rookie Team member before falling out of favor the past few seasons—and subsequently, onto the trade block. He’s coming off a season for the Cardinals in which he had 38 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in 13 games (6 starts). At one point, at an undersized 6’1”, 211 pounds, Bucannon looked like the modern prototype at linebacker with his ability to help cover spread offenses and make plays all over the field—as a defender who oftentimes, looks more safety than linebacker. However, with a new coaching regime, Bucannon was eventually phased out in Arizona. The former first rounder still has a lot of natural ability and could be similar to other first round reclamation projects that Ballard has taken a chance on—including former Colt Barkevious Mingo and current Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron. The only question is, can Bucannon regain his earlier career form or is he closer now to the player that struggled in coverage and in run defense when trying to play/learn a new defensive scheme over the past few seasons? As Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce showed in the playoffs, the Colts could use another linebacker/safety hybrid who can hold up in coverage over the middle of the field.While some fans are rightfully high on 2nd-year linebacker Matthew Adams, there could still be a starting spot up for grabs next to Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker going forward.4. Shaquil Barrett, DE Indianapolis Colts Gerri Green Jersey , Denver BroncosPhoto by Jonathan Bachman/Getty ImagesSigned as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado in 2014, Shaquil Barrett has emerged as an effective situational pass rusher during his tenure in Denver—bringing a lift off the Broncos bench. The 6’2”, 250 pound defensive end is fresh off a season where he recorded 28 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and a pass defensed in 13 games. He was playing in the Broncos pass rushing rotation behind the likes of Von Miller and first rounder Bradley Chubb last season. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), he was their 22nd best rated edge defender with a +75.9 grade—including a +72.5 pass rushing grade. Having had only 38 team sacks last season—which was only the 19th most in the league, the Colts could certainly use more pass rushing help. Barrett is only 26 years old, and while he won’t be confused as an “alpha dog” pass rusher anytime soon, he’s the type of young pass rusher who could contribute 7-10 sacks per season for the foreseeable future in a more regular role—and no one should be surprised. 3. Adrian Phillips, S, Los Angeles ChargersPhoto by Rob Carr/Getty ImagesSigned as an undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2014, Adrian Phillips has quickly gone from special teams standout to 2018 Pro Bowler. The 5’11”, 210 pound hybrid safety recorded 94 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception in 16 games (7 starts) for the Chargers defense last season. He’s a bit similar to Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde, who got his start on special teams, but is a “Swiss Army Knife” at safety who can do a lot of things well. With Clayton Geathers as a free agent, the Colts could be in the market for safety help, and the team could look to add a hybrid type regardless—as Travis Kelce tore their secondary apart in the playoffs as mentioned. Asking Phillips to be a “Kelce stopper” would be simply unfair, but with his versatility and highly regarded locker room presence, he could be a nice addition to the backend of the Colts secondary and special teams. 2. Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City ChiefsPhoto by Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesThe former 2015 3rd round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs could never quite get fully going under head coach Andy Reid, but is blessed with impressive physical tools at 6’3”, 205 pounds—having run a blistering fast 4.35 forty time and posted a vertical jump of 45.0 inches at the NFL Combine 5 years ago. In 2018, Conley had 32 receptions for 334 receiving yards (10.4 ypr avg.) and 5 touchdown receptions in 16 games (13 starts). Of course, Chris Ballard should be all too familiar with Conley, as he previously served as the Kansas City Chiefs Director of Football Operations in 2015 when he was drafted. For the record, I can’t see Ballard committing big years and dollars to Conley, but if he gets into a 1-year, Ryan Grant “prove it” territory on a new deal, he’d make a lot of sense for the Colts as a potential athletic flyer. Only 26 years old, Conley has the type of big body and deep speed that would theoretically be a perfect complement to star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton—that is, if he can finally fulfill his unreached potential. The young wideout has to improve his overall consistency. 1. Ronald Darby, CB, Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY SportsOkay, one could easily make the case that Ronald Darby doesn’t belong on this list at all as arguably the best cornerback option in this year’s free agent market.However, he’s coming off a torn ACL, isn’t a household name, and if nothing else, this provides me a perfectly good excuse to write about him. As a former 2015 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Bills, the 5’11”, 193 pound cornerback has quietly emerged as one of the better young cornerbacks in football—when healthy. He recorded 43 tackles Womens Gerri Green 2019 Jersey , 12 passes defensed, and an interception last season in 9 starts before a season-ending torn ACL derailed yet another productive season. Per Pro Football Focus, Darby was their 39th best rated cornerback before the injury with a +70.6 grade overall. The advanced grades web site notes that since entering the league, Darby has forced 50 incompletions, which ranks 12th among all cornerbacks with at least 100 targets over that span. The Philadelphia Eagles want him back, and it’s being speculated that the 25 year old cornerback could command at least $12M annually on his next deal. As mentioned, the Colts have their own financial decisions to make regarding fellow free agent cornerback Pierre Desir. However, Darby is arguably the better talent, and the Colts might make the more prudent decision of investing in the slightly younger cornerback, Darby—if push comes to shove on a lucrative multi-year deal. The NFL Draft is just a week away, and the Indianapolis Colts are armed with both the 26th and 34th overall picks among their impressive arsenal. With this year’s draft class being considered deep..."The NFL Draft is just a week away, and the Indianapolis Colts are armed with both the 26th and 34th overall picks among their impressive arsenal. With this year’s draft class being considered deep along the defensive line, the Colts could potentially capitalize along the interior with a number of intriguing high end prospects. Colts general manager Chris Ballard has preached consistently winning in the trenches, and hitting another home run in the first or second round would go a long way toward achieving that goal defensively. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 defensive tackles for the Colts to consider: Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images5. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State At 6’3”, 281 pounds, Jones had 43 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, an interception (for a touchdown), and a forced fumble in 14 games. Because of his play, the Buckeyes junior standout was named 1st-Team All-Big Ten in 2018. Jones is the type of athletic, penetrating three-technique defensive tackle that could excel in Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ swarming scheme. Jones has exceptional quickness and is fluid with his pass rushing moves, but at times, can get pushed around with too high of a pad level and a lack of overall strength. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Colts already have a great familiarity with Jones’ film though, having drafted his former Ohio State teammate Tyquan Lewis last year. As far as fit, Jones is like a glove to the Colts, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ballard overdraft him a bit based on this skill-set which could be a match made in heaven—only we’re still in Indianapolis. Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports4. Dexter Lawrence, DT, ClemsonThe 6’4”, 342 pound defensive tackle had 36 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in 13 games for the Tigers defense, as he was awarded First-Team All-ACC honors as a junior. However, there might be some ‘buyer beware’ here, as he missed Clemson’s two playoff games because of a positive performance-enhancing drug test. Lawrence is simply humongous, but he’s also blessed with surprising quickness and light feet for such a big man of his stature. He has the sheer strength and ability to consistently command a double team and simply absorbs blocks at times—which would bode well for the Colts playmakers at linebacker such as Darius Leonard to be freed up. That being said, some question whether he’s regressed since he was ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2016, and his average pass rush ability could limit him to more of a two-down run stuffer—which hurts his overall usefulness. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports3. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi StateThe 6’4” Indianapolis Colts Gerri Green Jersey , 301 pound junior defensive tackle recorded 63 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in 13 games, as he was named a 2nd-Team All-American and First-Team All-SEC member for Mississippi State.Perhaps the most polarizing prospect on this list with potential character concerns, Simmons has elite level Top 15 level draft talent, but carries some red flag risk with his past.He was arrested in March of 2016 for punching a woman, and while he never had any further incidents with the Bulldogs, any general manager will have to perform his due diligence to ensure he’s in fact matured from it. The other issue with Simmons is that he tore his ACL during a February workout, so a team may have to wait on him until he’s fully recovered—whether it’s even 2020. Still, the combination of speed, power, and explosiveness is quite tantalizing, and Simmons makes for one of the best athletes in this group. That being said, his instincts and awareness could use some improvement at the next level—which aren’t always easy fixes. Is Chris Ballard feeling lucky and ready to roll the dice? Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images2. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre DameAt 6’6”, 295 pounds, Tillery had 30 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks in 13 games for the Fighting Irish in 2018. As a result of his strong play, the senior defensive tackle earned AP 2nd-Team All-American honors. Tillery is well built and has exceptional power for his longer frame, as he has the strength to simply bull rush or overpower opposing offensive lineman. He also has ‘sweet feet’ and impressive lateral quickness, but he could withstand to refine some of his technique—which limits him a bit in the running game. It could mark a consecutive draft where the Colts selected a former Notre Dame star in the first round, but I’m guessing most fans of the Horseshoe wouldn’t complain. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images1. Christian Wilkins, DT, ClemsonThe 6’3”, 315 pound senior defensive tackle recorded 51 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in 15 games—earning unanimous 1st Team All-American and ACC honors respectively. Highly regarded for his character and work ethic, Wilkins is also the type of low pad level, strong, and disruptive defensive tackle that could simply thrive in the Colts defensive scheme. He’s a very good, maybe not great athlete, but he’s the type of player that could be a solid Pro Bowler for the next decade along the Colts defensive line. In that regard, he’s really the type of prospect that a team drafts and doesn’t have to think twice about being a highly productive pro for a long, long time. While his ceiling may not be as high as some of his defensive tackle counterparts here, his floor isn’t very far from the attic either. Careful, you might hit your head! He’s at least an easy triple if this were a baseball at-bat and looks like one of the safer picks in this year’s draft.
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