In drafting Missouri State’s Eric Johnson in the fifth round and Cincinnati’s Curtis Brooks in the sixth round, the Colts brought in two athletic defensive tackles to slot into Nate Ollie’s D-line room with DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, among others.
The Colts see the 6-foot-5, 298 pound Johnson profiling as a one-technique in the mold of Stewart, though they do see some potential for Johnson to play as a three-technique (where Buckner usually lines up).
Johnson is “a little bit raw, but has some physical upside,” Rogers said, noting Johnson flashed at the Senior Bowl earlier this year and against FBS-level competition while at Missouri State, which is in the FCS.
Johnson’s second-highest Pro Football Focus pass rushing grade in 2021 came against Oklahoma State; he also notched an impressive tackle for a loss in that game when he lined up as a nose tackle and used his lateral quickness and agility to shuttle outside after the snap, then accelerate into the backfield around a tackle to make a play.
“I feel where one of my strong suits comes from is my versatility, being able to play multiple positions and holding in there being a reliable character for the line,” Johnson said.
As for Brooks, he fielded questions in the pre-draft process about his size (6-foot-2, 287 pounds), which he felt might’ve bumped him lower in the draft than he should’ve been.
“I’m ready to go into camp with that mentality – I won’t forget where I went at or where I was drafted for sure,” Brooks said.
But the Colts, with an attack-oriented four-down front, aren’t as focused on Brooks’ size. Lacy said Brooks has some traits – his twitchiness, his ability to fire off the ball at the snap, his quickness and athleticism – that make up for his smaller stature for his position. And all you have to do is put on the tape – Brooks was disruptive in 2021 with Cincinnati, totaling 7 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for a loss for one of the nation’s best teams.
“To get those TFL numbers, you got to have a relentless motor,” Lacy said. “… I trust he’s gonna carry a chip on his shoulder and come here, put his best foot forward and make sure that he makes sure other teams regret waiting on him as long as they did.”