It’s a bit ironic because the Colts were rumored to be heavily interested in Upshaw during the 2012 NFL Draft. However, the team opted to select tight end Coby Fleener with the 34th pick of the second round, and Upshaw was drafted at the very next pick by the Baltimore Ravens at pick #35.
At 26 years old, Upshaw has been a solid outside linebacker for the Ravens, starting 15 games last season and recording 51 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He’s only missed 6 regular season starts over the past 3 seasons–otherwise starting in all of the Ravens games.
While the Colts could use a young pass rusher at outside linebacker, no one should mistake Upshaw for that kind of player. He has only 5 career sacks in 4 NFL seasons, so the pass rushing void would still need to be seemingly filled.
Upshaw’s purely a run-stuffer first and foremost and would essentially provide the Colts a younger version of incumbent starting outside linebacker Erik Walden to “set the edge” and stop the run along the outside.
Something that Upshaw seems to do very well. Specifically, per ProFootballFocus (subscription), Upshaw was their 6th best outside linebacker against the run with a +10.2 overall grade this past season.
The Colts defense does need to get younger, and Upshaw is 26 years old to Walden’s 30. However, it seems a bit redundant to have both outside linebackers as they’re essentially the same type of outside linebacker–run stop first, ask questions later.
Either way, Upshaw is a talented young outside linebacker, and it makes sense that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and especially their new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino–who was most recently the Ravens linebackers coach would want to keep the Baltimore pipeline going.
Having coached him this past season, Monachino figures to have a great familiarity with Upshaw and should know the caliber of player and person he is better than most. He should have a good idea of whether he can make a successful transition to Horseshoe Blue.