Colts’ New Defensive Powerhouse: Samson Ebukam Poised for Breakout Year

Indianapolis Colts Samson Ebukam Poised for Breakout Year
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

As the Indianapolis Colts gear up for the 2023 season, eyes are keenly focused on the potential breakout year for defensive end Samson Ebukam​. Signed to a three-year deal worth $24 million during this offseason, Ebukam’s arrival marks an exciting era for the Colts’ defensive lineup.

What’s the Story on Ebukam?

Ebukam, who has been in the NFL since 2017, previously played with the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. Over his last two years with the 49ers, he started 26 of the 32 games, recording 74 tackles, 12 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Despite these impressive stats, Ebukam has yet to have a season with more than five sacks. However, it’s believed that his move to Indianapolis could unlock his full potential as a more productive pass rusher.

What To Expect from Samson Ebukam This Year for the Colts

The transition to the Colts’ defense has been smooth for Ebukam, largely due to the similarities in defensive strategy between his former team and the Colts. Moreover, with his refined role in the Colts’ defense, Ebukam is confident about his performance in the upcoming season, stating, “It’s definitely going to come alive this year I’m feeling like”​.

Set to replace Yannick Ngakoue, Ebukam will likely take over the LEO role in Gus Bradley’s defense. Although Ngakoue led the Colts with 9.5 sacks in 2022, Ebukam’s pass-rush win rate of 14.9% in 2022, good for 24th among all edge rushers, was notably higher than Ngakoue’s 11.0% rate. This comparison illustrates Ebukam’s potential to elevate the Colts’ pass rush, a crucial element considering their young secondary.

Coupled with the continued development of Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo, Ebukam’s addition could finally give the Colts the consistent pass rush they’ve been seeking for years. Indeed, Ebukam has already started opposite Paye on the defensive line during OTAs, indicating his integral role in the team’s defensive strategy from the get-go.

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