Numbers: 6024/299, 4.93 forty, 2.84 twenty, 1.61 ten, 34 vertical, 9'4 long
2006 stats: 39 tackles, 20 assists, 12-49 tackle for loss, 8-42 sacks
The Player: I've seen Pitcock described as "a back-room brawler," "a big ol' axe-handle guy" and a guy "who will stand in and slug it out with you." It's good to know that if the Colts ever get into a bar fight, they have Pitcock on their side, but can he play football?
Well, there's no doubting he did play football very, very well on one of the biggest stages of the NCAA has to offer. The heart, soul and best performer on the Ohio State Buckeyes' vaunted defensive line, Pitcock somehow recorded 14 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss despite spending most of his time facing double teams and/or working hard to clog interior running lanes.
Pitcock succeeded in college mainly because of his exceptional upper-body strength and non-stop motor. A never-say-die wrestler inside, Pitcock has enough leg drive and arm strength to shed blocks quickly, and he tracks the run like the ball has GPS. While he's not blessed with a great initial burst, Pitcock does have good closing speed and can be lethal in a short area.
Fans who expect Pitcock to repeat the eight-sack season he had in 2006 in the pros will almost certainly be disappointed. While scouts acknowledge his good straight-line speed, the widely held belief is that Pitcock lacks the fluidity, balance and agility to be an effective NFL pass rusher. He'll find collapsing the pocket harder in the NFL not just because of his athletic limitations, but because he'll learn that using brute strength against the bigger, more powerful players he'll soon see will be less effective.
Still, Pitcock brings a lot of good qualities to the party that can't always be measured. And that's not limited to the unselfish play, toughness and tenacity he's been noted for. What differentiates Pitcock from other, similar players is his discipline, ability to diagnose plays and maintain his gap responsibility.
Reminds me of: Rocky Bernard, a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2002. Scouts said he lacked the size and athleticism to be a contributor on the NFL. Five seasons and 21.5 sacks later, he seems to have had the last laugh. Bernard is more explosive, but Pitcock is more tenacious.
How he fits: Picking Pitcock was a very smart move by the Colts. The team's primary weakness is its run defense. While it may seem that it's because the defensive line is undersized, if you watch the video, you'll see that much of the problem came from gap coverage. While the Colts' ends were headed upfield (and often out of the play), teams were feasting on the huge holes between them and the tackles, who were often tied up by a single blocker.
Those holes weren't as much in evidence when Corey Simon was around. While Pitcock is no Simon, he does share some of his qualities — like an ability to absorb double teams; a strong upper body and good arm use for shedding; and, best of all, his ability to recognize plays and get to the hole before the back does.
While there's a chance for disaster in any draft pick, Pitcock seems very much like a sure thing. He is as advertised: A smart, dedicated run-stopper who will add give an honest effort from snap to whistle.
It's not inconceivable that he could play extensively as a rookie as the Colts need his skills on first and second downs — at the very least in short-yardage and goal-line situations — and rotate their defensive linemen frequently. He could very well see a great deal of early success as well, since no team would dare double team Pitcock when he's on the same line as Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Anthony McFarland or Raheem Brock.