The Dallas Cowboys selected two defensive linemen (one in the third round, the other in the sixth) in the 2021 NFL Draft, which sealed Antwaun Woods‘ fate with the team.
On Tuesday, the team announced they signed Woods to a one-year contract shortly after he was released by Dallas, and now Indy’s defensive line is … absolutely stacked.
The Colts losing Denico Autry to the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason very much feels like an afterthought now. His production has been replaced by a number of others who can play different roles across the D-line.
And a one-year deal couldn’t be more perfect for the Colts. They can evaluate their situation after 2021, when Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Isaac Rochell, Taylor Stallworth, Kameron Cline, and Andrew Brown will be free agents.
Perhaps Woods does enough to stick around with guys like DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Kwity Pate and Dayo Odeyingbo. At that point, the Colts will definitely need more depth behind those guys, and we know how much defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus likes to rotate guys in and out.
So, now with the addition of Woods, let’s focus on the present. What will the 2021 defensive line rotation look like?
Here’s what the depth chart is currently showing:
- LDE: Kwity Paye, Tyquan Lewis, Ben Banogu, Dayo Odeyingbo
- LDT: DeForest Buckner, Antwaun Woods, Kameron Cline, Andrew Brown
- RDT: Grover Stewart, Taylor Stallworth, Chris Williams, Robert Windsor
- RDE: Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay, Isaac Rochell
At the very least, Colts fans should realize they’ll be looking at a healthy eight-man rotation here. Lewis appeared in all 16 games last year and 40% of the defensive snaps. Stallworth appeared in all 16 games and 25% of the defensive snaps. Turay, a former second-round pick, figures to get back on track after undergoing his second ankle surgery in as many years this offseason. And finally, Woods, who spent the last three years with the Cowboys, started 32 out of the 39 games he appeared in over that span and was on the field for 57% of the defensive snaps in 2018, 29% in 2019, and 41% in 2020.
And don’t forget Odeyingbo getting some limited action possibly beginning in October when he’s recovered from his Achilles injury.
As for Woods, he provides a 6-foot-1, 320-pound frame that’s both capable of clogging up lanes and putting pressure on the quarterback. With his size and athleticism, and with Buckner and Stewart absorbing double teams, there’s a good chance Woods (as well as the others) will capitalize on their one-on-one opportunities.
This move adds formidable depth to an already fearsome defensive line. After all the impatience much of the fan base expressed with Ballard’s decision-making this offseason, it appears his grand plan is coming into focus.