Five players will engage in stiff competition for the Colts two starting defensive tackle spots.
Fili Moala, drafted in the second round of the recent draft, is 6'4", 303 lbs. He brings the kind of size to that would make him a shoe-in to start for the Colts at nose tackle in previous years.
Moala also happens to bring the length and speed that makes him ideal to play at the under tackle position, which requires the ability to generate a pass rush.
This mixture of size and speed gives Moala the tools to be the most complete defensive tackle the Colts have had on their roster since Booger McFarland.
Prior to the recent draft and post-draft moves, Moala would be a lock for a starting position. The Colts did not stop rebuilding the defensive line with Moala, however, and he will be forced to work for his spot.
In the fourth round of the draft, the Colts selected Terrance Taylor, who will be the biggest defensive tackle on the team. At 6'0", 319 lbs., Taylor is known for his ability to stop the run.
In addition, Taylor has the brute strength to push the pocket, potentially flushing the quarterback out for defensive ends Freeney, Mathis, and Brock to do what they do best.
As it looks now, Taylor is best suited to serve as a "true" nose tackle.
Do not be surprised if he does not serve in a starting role because of the Colts emphasis on speed.
The team does not need Taylor to start in order to get bigger and better against the run. Taylor will have to work very hard if he wishes to see significant time on the field.
In a surprise move, the Colts re-signed Ed Johnson. Johnson played an important part in improving the team's run defense in 2007 as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State.
He was dismissed early last year after he violated his strict contractual obligation to stay clean off-the-field.
If Johnson can work his way back to the performance level of his rookie year, his two summers and one full season of knowledge in the Colts scheme will give him an advantage over his competition.
Unlike his rookie year, Johnson has some big competition if he hopes to start for the Colts v.2009.
In an effort to fill the holes at defensive tackle left by Ed Johnson and early-retiree Quinn Pitcock last year, the Colts signed Antonio "Mookie" Johnson from the Tennessee Titans practice squad.
Mookie is entering his first summer with the Colts after seeing significant work in the second half of the 2008 season.
His presence on the field helped the Colts run defense improve.
While Mookie does have the ability to play in the under tackle position, on the Colts roster he will be competing with Terrance Taylor for reps at nose tackle. Mookie could very well earn a starting spot.
Finally, Eric Foster was Colt's President Bill Polian's diamond in the rough for 2008.
Foster started much of the season as an undrafted free agent. Unfortunately for Foster and the Colts, he was often forced to serve as the team's nose tackle even though he weighs only 265 lbs.
While undersized, Foster made significant progress last year and has a full season under his belt. Which gives him an advantage over the younger players he will be competing against.
If the Colts decide to stick with small and fast, keeping the "big uglies" on the sidelines for running situations, Foster will return to the starting lineup.