Recapping Colts Signing of Patriots Jabaal Sheard
The Indianapolis Colts recently agreed to terms with prized New England Patriots free agent outside linebacker (defensive end) Jabaal Sheard:
Regarding Sheard, the 6’3″, 265 pound outside linebacker was originally a 2011 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Browns. However, he’s spent the past two seasons with the New England Patriots, having found considerable success.
The 27 year old outside linebacker/defensive end is coming off a season with the Patriots in which he recorded 33.0 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and 4 passes defensed in 15 games (8 starts).
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Sheard was their 36th best ‘edge defender’ with a + 79.6 grade overall this past season and was rated as their 19th best free agent of 2017:
"19. Jabaal Sheard, EDGE, New England PatriotsA year ago, Sheard was coming off the best season of his career for the Patriots, and though they dialed back his playing time a little this year, he still played just seven fewer snaps over the entire season than he did in 2015 (albeit with an extra game in the Super Bowl giving him an extra 94 possible). Sheard is a capable player against the run and pass, and can play across different schemes and roles. He may never be an All-Pro, but he can be a valuable part of a team’s defensive front."
While Sheard isn’t a ‘pure pass rusher’ by any means, he has combined for 13 sacks over the past two seasons and offers some pass rush prowess.
Given his ability to be productive against both the run and pass, Sheard seems like a safe bet to replace free agent starter Erik Walden as the team’s strong outside linebacker (left outside linebacker).
New Colts general manager Chris Ballard had this to say on Sheard’s signing (via the Colts Matt Conti):
"“Jabaal brings a wealth of experience and veteran leadership to our locker room. His size and speed are the conduit to his pass rushing ability as he creates matchup difficulties for opponents. Jabaal is equally talented against the run and in pass coverage. His addition provies a good player for our defense, and we’re excited to have him as a member of the Colts.”"
The Colts had to get younger this offseason–particularly in their linebacking corps, and while Sheard is somewhat comparable to Walden, he’s also 4 years younger and has graded out much more favorably in recent seasons.
Given his age and production, Sheard seems like a solid signing for the Colts at first glance. While he’s not a ‘star’, he should be a ‘solid’ starter for the Colts for the foreseeable future at starting outside linebacker.