Dwight Freeney is widely regarded as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. He’s one of the active leaders in career sacks and still has the athletic abilities to be an elite player. Freeney has already become the all-time leader in sacks for the Indianapolis Colts and looks to build on his pro-bowl caliber career in 2012.
Freeney was drafted 11th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He was considered one of the best defensive linemen coming out in the draft. Freeney dominated the competition in college while playing for Syracuse. Freeney finished his collegiate career with 104 tackles, 34 sacks, 51 tackles for a loss and 43 quarterback pressures.
Freeney’s senior season at Syracuse was one for the record books. He tallied 17.5 sacks, which is still a school record along with his career sack total. Freeney was also praised for sacking the superstar athlete Michael Vick 4.5 times in one game. Dwight earned All-American honors and was considered a pure pass rusher with 4.40 40-yard dash speed and a 40 inch vertical. His explosiveness was unlike any other pass rusher coming out of college.
Freeney transitioned smoothly into the NFL without any noticeable problems. He posted 13 sacks and forced 9 fumbles in his rookie season. He finished runner up for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year to Julius Peppers who was taken 2nd overall in the same draft class as Freeney.
Freeney would go on to have three more seasons of double digits sacks before a lull in his “sackmaster career”. In 2004, just his 3rd season in the league, Freeney finished with 16 sacks, which led the entire NFL. He became the 3rd fastest player to reach 40 sacks in a career.
In 2007, Freeney would become one of the highest paid defensive players in the history of the league. The Colts gave him a 6 year deal worth $72 million total with $30 million guaranteed. Freeney is still playing out this contract heading into the 2012 season.
Despite the massive turnover after the 2011 season, the Colts felt that Freeney was too valuable of a player to release or trade even though he had the highest salary on the team. However, there will be some changes with Freeney’s position for the 2012 season. The Colts are transitioning to a 3-4 defense which means that Freeney will shift from his dominant defensive end position to the outside linebacker position. Freeney hasn’t played linebacker since his college days at Syracuse.
Freeney has expressed excitement for the new changes and looks to continue his customary quarterback pressure. Freeney’s pass rushing abilities have led him to becoming one of the all-time leaders in forced fumbles on a quarterback with 43. He is just 4 behind the all-time mark held by Jason Taylor.
During his outstanding career, Dwight Freeney has racked up some impressive accolades. Freeney is a 7 time pro bowler, a three time first team All Pro, AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, named to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 2000′s, and he is a member of the “100 sacks club”.
Wanna read more about Dwight Freeney? Check out his web site. He has an awesome video on the front page. DwightFreeney.com