INDIANAPOLIS – When you are a pass rusher and in the same sentence with Aaron Donald, that’s a very good thing.
That’s true of Yannick Ngakoue.
Over the years, the Colts have struggled in two main areas when relying on pass rushers.
Those are the areas of availability and consistent production.
Well, Ngakoue has checked both of those boxes.
Since entering the NFL in 2016, Ngakoue and Aaron Donald are the only two players in the NFL to reach at least 8.0 sacks in each of the last 6 years.
That’s pretty darn impressive.
Production on an annual basis is often a key barometer in evaluating one’s career.
Avoiding injury is one thing, and good luck is a big part of that.
If you are able to stay healthy (Ngakoue has missed just 2 games in his 6 NFL seasons), that’s only part of the battle though.
You still have to go out there and be disruptive.
And Ngakoue has done that, too, with 6 straight seasons of at least 8.0 sacks.
To put a cheery on top of things, the fact that Ngakoue has done this in his first six NFL seasons is even more remarkable. Ngakoue and 4 other NFL players have done that. Those 4 are: Aaron Donald, DeMarcus Ware, Derrick Thomas, Reggie White.
While Ngakoue hasn’t proven to be some All-Pro defensive end (he has 1 Pro Bowl appearance), like those others above, this is a guy that still brings a resume to the Colts that they’ve recently dreamed of.
Obviously, Ngakoue isn’t a Donald-type talent. Who is?
But take any of Ngakoue’s 6 NFL seasons and they’d rank right up with any Colts edge rusher in the last decade.
Since Robert Mathis led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2013, Erik Walden (11 sacks in 2016) and Justin Houston (11 sacks in 2019) are the only Colts defensive ends who have put up a better season than Ngakoue has done in any of his 6 NFL seasons.
And it should be noted that Ngakoue is about to turn 27 years old, whereas Walden and Houston were both 30 years or older when they reached that double digit sack number.
This is why the Colts (wisely) made the move for a player that can offer something this organization hasn’t had in years.
Plus, Ngakoue is back with Gus Bradley, where he produced at the start of his career (2016 season with the Jaguars: 8.0 sacks) and most recently (2021 with the Raiders: 10 sacks)
“The LEO position is super, super special to be able to take a part of,” Ngakoue explains about the edge role he has in Bradley’s system. “That guy has to be the guy that can run sideline to sideline, a guy that can get to the quarterback, a guy that can stuff the edge, a guy that can hammer blockers and things of that nature. I feel like it fits my personality and my playing style super perfect.”
Ngakoue joins the Colts in the final year of his contract.
Ideally, the Colts would maintain a player for a few more years, and a guy who thinks he’s got more to show.
“I don’t feel like I’ve reached my ceiling at all yet,” Ngakoue says. “There’s always room to grow and when you feel like you got it, that’s when you shouldn’t play anymore because you never got it.”