The Birmingham Stallions are now at the 75 man roster limit for the 2024 season, but that hasn’t stopped them from still making moves to improve their roster as they see fit. Most recently the Stallions shuffled some depth in the trenches. Waiving offensive lineman Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms from University of Missouri only to sign defensive lineman Caleb Sampson from Kansas University.

How Does Caleb Sampson Fit an Already Stacked Defensive Line?

Caleb Sampson graduated from Kansas after his fourth season wrapped up in 2023, however that isn’t where he began his college career. In fact he started at Coahoma Community College in 2018. This came only after he had committed and decommitted from both Tulane and Missouri.

He did just enough to get a D1 offer after just one season at the JUCO level. His stat line: 28 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery. Originally committing to Western Kentucky, he decommitted and instead attended Kansas after receiving their offer. After a career that saw him play in 46 games, starting 38, Sampson found his way into the NFL as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

During college the 6’3 306 pound defensive tackle had solid but not spectacular statistics including 77 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, and 6 pass break ups. His pro-day helped his cause when he measured in with 10.18 inch hands, and a 78.5 inch wingspan.

He was also able to put up 23 reps in the bench press, with a 5.08 40-yard dash, a 1.77 10-yard split and a 7.88 3-cone drill. None of these numbers blew anyone out of the water but they also showed just enough to put him on an NFL radar.

Undrafted, but Not Done Yet

Unfortunately his numbers led to him falling out of the draft process and he ends up signing as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts just a couple days after the draft ends. He made an impression during his time there, lasting all the way into the preseason.

He would play in 49 snaps during the 2023 preseason for the Colts, but collect just 1 tackle. Of those snaps 46 of them came inside at defensive tackle. He would line up as a Zero Technique on just 4 snaps in week one before the Colts realized he was best suited to play in a 3 technique. He also saw 3 snaps lined up as a 4 technique. Its safe to assume he will be playing primarily 3 technique in the Stallions defense given the way their depth chart is built.

His performance in the preseason at least according to PFF.com was less than stellar. Granted PFF can only grade off of what they know, and they DO NOT know what his assignment is on any given play so take that for what it is. Ultimately after seeing time in three preseason games, the Colts opted to add Sampson to their practice squad. His time on the unit lasted just one day as the Colts opted to release Sampson bringing back McTelvin Agim who is a near spitting image of Sampson and had previously spent time with the Colts.

Where Does He Fit in the Lineup?

As it stands the Stallions have a total of five true defensive tackles, and they have Jaylen Twyman who I expect will see some snaps inside at tackle as well given his size. With that in mind, how does Sampson fit in this group and how likely is it he makes the final roster?

Those players competing for the same three to four positions currently are: Marvin Wilson, Willie Yarbary, and Jordan Thompson. You can say Carlos Davis, but truly he is the one player on the roster that is a prototypical zero technique that can man the nose tackle position when needed, and act as that space eating defensive lineman for the Stallions. The other five names mentioned are all fairly similar in stature and talent level.

Yarbary is 6’3 296 pounds and spent time with the Chargers

Thompson is 6’2 292 pounds and spent time with the 49ers

Marvin Wilson is 6’4 303 pounds and spent time with the Eagles

As you can tell this is a fairly even battle in terms of experience, size, and even athletic ability. This will come down to a case of who shows up in camp ready to dominate. If I had to guess right now I see the Stallions carrying Carlos Davis, Marvin Wilson, and Willie Yarbary at defensive tackle with Twyman shifting over at times. If they keep four defensive tackles Sampson has to be your fourth guy, but I am not sure he breaks into the top three.

I will say the fact that he is just now being signed isn’t going to hurt his case. It might actually signal that Zach Potter and company were attempting to bring him in for a while before they were ultimately able to cement the deal and bring him in. If that is the case, he might have the edge over some other players brought in earlier in the process, after all they wouldn’t have signed Sampson if they didn’t feel he could improve their unit this late in the game. With training camp less than a month away at this point, time is running short to make last second adjustments to the roster.

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Sam Just

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