INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Good luck trying to stuff Johnathan Hankins – all 320 pounds of him – into a neat box.
Yes, the Indianapolis Colts believe they finally added the missing piece to their persistently-bad run defense when the signed Hankins to a three-year contract that could be worth as much as $30 million.
Again, he’s load at 6-2 and 320 pounds, and a welcome addition to a run defense that has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL since 2012.
“I bring value of stopping the run as I did when I was with the Giants,’’ Hankins said Friday in a conference call.
In 2016, the Colts again struggled against the run as injuries ravaged their linemen and linebackers. They ranked 25th in the league in yards allowed per game (120.4) and 30th in yards per attempt (4.7).
The Giants and Hankins? They were tied for 3rd (88.6) and 2nd (3.6), respectively, after New York used free agency to upgrade a defense that in 2015 ranked last in the NFL and was one of the worst in team history.
Hankins, though, made it clear he’s hardly a one-trick pony. He’ll be making the transition from a 3-technique tackle in the Giants’ 4-3 scheme to a nose in the Colts’ 3-4, although his versatility undoubtedly will result in him lining up in several spots in sub packages.
“I definitely can be a three-down guy,’’ he said. “I’ve been doing that since I was with the Giants. That’s never been a problem. I’ve got 10 sacks in my career so I can definitely get sacks and affect the quarterback.
“I don’t just view myself as a run stopper even though that’s what got me in this league . . . I’ve shown you I can get to the quarterback and be an all-around player.’’
General manager Chris Ballard described Hankins as a “young, productive and disruptive defensive lineman. He possesses a wealth of experience and brings leadership to our team.’’
Hankins is the 11th veteran free agent signed by the Colts, and the seventh addition to the defense. He’s also the most expensive, surpassing linebacker Jabaal Sheard’s three-year, $25.5 million contract.
With hefty contracts come elevated expectations.
“It comes with the deal that I got,’’ Hankins said, “but as long as I go out there and do my job and be productive and do what I told the team I was going to come here to do, I’m OK with that.
“Just go out there and continue to do what I was doing with the Giants and bring a different dimension to this team and be more of a leader and get wins and get to the ultimate goal, which is win the Super Bowl.’’
Hankins revealed the Colts first showed an interest when they met with his agent at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He visited Indy earlier this week and finalized things Thursday. The Giants had reportedly been offering him a four-year, $28 million contract.
“Everything just fell right in place,’’ Hankins said. “I felt right at home here.
“I won’t say it was an easy decision, but it was a good decision for me and my family. When you’re patient, good things come to good people.’’