Rookie DL Jonah Laulu Ready to Play Multiple Spots in Colts' Defense

Indianapolis Colts rookie defensive lineman Jonah Laulu is poised to be a versatile prospect in coordinator Gus Bradley's defense.
Oklahoma's Jonah Laulu (8) celebrates a play in the second half of the college football game between
Oklahoma's Jonah Laulu (8) celebrates a play in the second half of the college football game between / SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY
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The Indianapolis Colts selected former Oklahoma defensive lineman Jonah Laulu with the No. 234 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. Laulu is a versatile defender who played both inside and outside for the Sooners after transferring to the program from Hawaii.

Laulu recently spoke exclusively with Horseshoe Huddle and discussed his pre-draft experience with the Colts, and was even willing to share the vision and role the coaching staff sees him playing on defense in 2024.

Laulu also touched on his initial meetings with defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, his experience at this past week’s rookie minicamp, and more.

JM: The Indianapolis Colts drafted you in the seventh round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Did you receive a lot of pre-draft interest from them, or did it come as a surprise to you?

Laulu: I received a little interest from them, but it mostly came as a surprise. I was still pretty shocked. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to be drafted or not. I might have gone the undrafted free agency route.

It was quite the phone call to receive though (laughs). It was such an amazing moment for me and my family.

JM: I bet. Who were some of the teams you felt like had shown more interest in you than the Colts did throughout the pre-draft process?

Laulu: I felt like the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers, and New England Patriots showed a lot of interest. There were a good amount of teams that showed interest before the draft.

JM: The Colts were a bit of a surprise then. You recently signed your rookie contract and participated in rookie minicamp. What was your first taste of the NFL like?

Laulu: It was really cool. I have a great position coach in Charlie Partridge. Other coaches, such as Kalon Humphrey and [assistant defensive line] Matt Raich have also been so helpful. We have some great coaches in our defensive line room.

Coach Partridge is awesome. He’s already pouring so much into us. They’re really putting a lot of effort towards our development. To say that I’m in the NFL and being coached up by these guys is really cool (laughs). They’re getting me ready to play and contribute. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

JM: What was the biggest lesson you learned at rookie minicamp? You're going through the process of acclimating to professional football.

Laulu: Professional football is extremely technical. I’d say that first and foremost. It’s very, very technical. You need to fine-tune the smaller details of your game if you want to be great in this league.

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JM: Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge has coached Trey Flowers, J.J. Watt, and others. He has so much experience and knowledge. You brought him up briefly, but I want to expand. What's your relationship like with coach Partridge so far?

Laulu: He’s a great coach. He stays on top of us. The way he coaches, his personality and overall approach to teaching, it makes it so much easier to soak up what he’s saying. Even when he’s critiquing you, he’s never going to say you’re terrible at something. Anyway, I don’t think I’m terrible at anything (laughs).

Coach Partridge is just a great coach. As far as his personality goes, how he coaches, it just makes me want to play even harder for him. That’s the type of man he is.

JM: What was the No. 1 thing he was trying to teach you at rookie minicamp? What did you spend the most time working on?

Laulu: For me personally, we spent a lot of time working on my step through when stringing together pass-rushing moves on opposing offensive linemen. I have to do a better job stepping through to allow myself to get past them.

I can’t slow myself down, especially when I’m disengaging from a block. That’s what we’ve been working on. We put a lot of emphasis on being more efficient with my step through at rookie minicamp.

JM: Has the coaching staff discussed what role or positions they see you playing on the defensive line?

Laulu: They see me playing an interior defensive line position in our scheme. I’ll be playing different variations of defensive tackle. They see me playing the 3-tech and the 2i. I’ll be playing multiple positions.

JM: I’m sure defensive coordinator Gus Bradley loves that versatility. You have so many great teammates in that defensive line room and you’ll be meeting all of them soon, if you haven’t already. Who are you excited to learn from?

Laulu: I’m excited to learn from everybody. We have some very experienced players in our room such as DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. I’m excited to pick their brains. I’m already asking them questions at practice. They already told me I can ask them whatever questions I have.

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see how they practice. I’ll be following their habits closely. I’ve been watching those [Buckner and Stewart] guys for a long time. Even the guys playing on the outside for us, we have a lot of talent. I can’t believe they’re my teammates now. It’s crazy.

JM: We've appreciated your time today. What is the rookie season goal for Jonah Laulu in 2024?

Laulu: My goal is to continue getting better every single day. I want to earn the trust of my teammates and the coaching staff. I want to be a guy they can depend on to contribute this season.

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Justin Melo


Justin Melo (@JustinM_NFL) covers the NFL Draft and all things football for The Draft Network. Justin’s league-wide connections have allowed him to interview more than 700 NFL Draft picks over the previous seven drafts, including No. 1 overall selections and Pro Bowl players.