Colts 2014 Positional Review: Outside Linebacker

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Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans quarterbackTom Savage (3) throws under pressure by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jonathan Newsome (91). The Indianapolis Colts won at Lucas Oil, 17-10 to clinch the AFC South Division. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Newsome

2015 Contract:  $554,527 (bless late round rookie contracts)

Stats: 28 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 3 fumbles

PFF Grade: +2.1

The Good:

Newsome was the first rookie to lead the Colts in sacks since Dwight Freeney in 2002. He also had the game changing play against the Broncos in the Divisional round of the playoffs with a strip sack of Peyton Manning.

He showed a great ability to get to the quarterback, and would have had a better grade this season if that’s all he did.

The Bad:

A rookie led the Colts in sacks. This says less about Newsome’s ability as a pass rusher (which appears to be very good) and more about the other players on the roster.

At least half of Newsome’s sacks came when he was unblocked and he really struggled in pass coverage (but only dropped back 40 times). He wasn’t used consistently over the course of the season and it was hard to determine the number of snaps he’d get from game-to-game.

2015 Outlook:

Newsome isn’t likely to be an every down type linebacker. He was primarily a pass rusher in college and it showed this season.

He had too good a season to regress in 2015 and I’d expect Newsome to see the field more often. It will be interesting to see him and Mathis on the field at the same time on obvious passing downs.