As we continue down the path of unearthing some deeper sleepers for 2011, I am happy to endorse a player from my favorite team: The Indianapolis Colts. Get very comfortable with the name Pat Angerer, LB, Colts, as it is about to be engraved in top-25 IDP LB Rankings for the next 3-5 years. Some of the more die-hard IDPers will already know Angerer by now, but any newbies or casual fans will certainly be left wondering who he is. I must admit that I was not thrilled when the Colts selected him in the second round of last year’s (2010) NFL Draft. At the time it seemed like a head-scratcher. The Colts had just re-upped Gary Brackett to a new five year contract that year. So why draft Angerer and why so high? Weren’t there more pressing needs?
Well, if I have learned anything from following the Colts over the years it is that you have to trust in Bill Polian and their scouting department. The Colts simply do not select players based on need. They select players (particularly early picks) based on the best player available and their fit to the Colts’ respective system. That alone let me know upfront that the Colts had to have Angerer rated very highly and had to see him as an ideal fit for their system.
Some people will question whether Angerer is an ideal fit for the WLB spot. Truthfully, he is much better suited as a middle linebacker. While that spot is currently manned by Gary Brackett, we will leave that alone for now and touch on it later. As for Angerer, I have little concern over where he plays. He will play well and put up numbers by just being on the field. As a rookie, he started 11 games and 7 of those starts came at strong side linebacker. The SLB in a cover-2 scheme is normally not good for much statistically. Angerer, as a rookie mind you, averaged what would amount to a 91 tackle per 16 game pace at SLB. In those games where he started at SLB and Brackett started at MLB, Angerer still managed to out-tackle Brackett in three out of those seven games. Not bad for a rookie playing out of position and in a position that is far less friendly to statistics then MLB is.
This brings us back to Gary Brackett. He is the Colts’ defensive captain and signed to a reasonable contract, but he is not getting any younger. Brackett is currently 31 years old entering 2011 and he hasn't played a full 16 game season since 2007. Brackett is due to make a manageable $2 million this season, but that number balloons up to $5 million in 2012 and $6.6 million in 2013. Angerer is clearly the future and that future could come as soon as this season and likely will not come much later then next year at the latest.
Brackett has averaged 7.56 tackles per game started: an average of 121 total tackles per 16 game season while he has held down that MIKE linebacker spot for the Colts. The spot is a hot-bed for numbers and it could be Angerer’s very, very soon. Angerer demonstrated a glimpse of his potential value when he received extensive playing time during the pre-season last year. During that time, Angerer tallied 36 total tackles in four games played. Now some folks will say: “Diggs, that was pre-season. Pre-season does not count. Who cares? Can he do it when it matters in the regular season?”To those folks I point to Angerer’s stats during the four games that Brackett missed in 2010. In those games, Angerer started at MLB and called the defensive plays for the Colts. Playing in his natural position, Angerer racked up 42 total tackles and two passes defensed in his four starts!
Even when you factor in his starts at SLB to add to those four games at MLB, Angerer was on pace for a 119 tackle season pro-rated over 16 games. That pace would have been good for a top-15 finish amongst all NFL linebackers.
Angerer stacks up perfectly when compared to his predecessors in terms of size. Angerer is 6’0”, 235 pounds. Brackett is 5’11” 235, Session is 6’0” 235, Peterson was 6’1” 233, and June was 6’0” 227. Angerer is the perfect fit and has the perfect blend of quickness and strength to play any of the three linebacker positions for the Colts. While he may not play the MIKE or WILL spot to start this year, he is the future at one of those spots and when he gets there he will blow up. He is an excellent dynasty prospect and will pay huge dividends this season if he mans the WLB or MLB spot at any time.
Angerer is currently flying a little below the radar. He finished last season as the 67th ranked LB in terms of points per game, and 50thamongst LBs in points scored. However, don’t let those numbers fool you. Angerer was 28thin ppg amongst LBs once he began starting for the Colts in week 6 and during those four weeks that he started at MLB, he was 12thamongst LBs in ppg. If you can grab Angerer as a LB3 or LB4 he is a great player to stash away. He could be a LB2 as early as this year and could provide potential LB1 value next year and beyond.