The Indianapolis Colts 2013 offseason has been interesting. It all started in the March Free Agency period where they aquired many FA's, including the second-highest paid RT in the league in Gosder Cherilus. As the Draft approached, many needs still needed covered, and the front office did a fine job addressing those needs. First round pick Bjoern Werner met a need at OLB, and within the next few rounds, they addressed the O-Line by adding some interior guys. Any way you put it, the Colts have done a great job this offseason so far. While minor tweaks can still be made, the majority of the work is done. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Colts depth chart.
Before we jump into the actual depth chart, I think it would be profitable to check out the scheme that the Colts use for both sides of the ball.
In the 2012 offseason, the Colts changed everything. Peyton (the whole offense) walked off to Denver, Polian went from being the GM to being replace by Ryan Grigson (who is by no means bad), and Jim Caldwell got fired in exchange for Chuck Pagano. However, the offense did not struggle due to the changes. It rather provided a surprising and exciting season to be a part of. The base around the offense was a pass-heavy scheme that Bruce Arians brought about. However, he was offered a coaching job for the Arizona Cardinals in which he jumped at. The Colts then hired Pep Hamilton as the Offensive Coordinator, the guy who trained Luck during his college career at Stanford. The Hamilton scheme involves a short-route, power-run basis in which he used at Stanford. This will be a definite change from last year, but the system will involve less wearing out of Luck's arm and more use of the short game, whether it be run or pass. The Colts have the pieces in place, they just have to make it work. Let's look at the Colts offensive depth chart:
Andrew Luck is obviously the starter. He had a great rookie season while he threw the ball like crazy, and expect him to do very well this year. Hasselbeck provides the experience and leadership to teach Luck a few things. The good thing about the change in schemes is that Luck is young and eager to learn, and that this system is very calm and slow-going for him, giving him time to develop in it. He already has experience in the system though, and could bring about a great season in 2013. The main difference between this year and last is the short throws and increased hand-offs. Expect a learnig but productive year from Andrew Luck.
Vick Ballard had a tremendous rookie season. He fits the Pep Hamilton RB build - stocky but elusive. He doesn't possess break-away speed, one reason we drafted Williams, but he does provide power and agility. Brown will get some snaps, but expect the majority to be from Ballard. The speedy guy in the group is Kerwynn Williams. He will most likely play on third-and-long for catching and screens. Expect Carter to get some goal-line carries.
WR - Reggie Wayne, Darius Heyward-Bay, TY Hilton, Kelley/Whalen/Palmer.
Reggie Wayne is reaching the end of his career. He is everything you want in a #1 WR, besides his age. He can still be productive in the system though as he will be making short catches. His combination of hands and route-running are perfect for the spot. BHB is new as a #2 WR, and we honestly don't know if he is that stellar. Hilton is a fast slot receiver who did very well last year. The others along with LaVon Brazill will be fighting for the next spot, as they are all young and inexperienced. The main thing they will have to adapt to is the short, catch-and-go philosophy of play. The pieces are in play for 2013, but the future with Wayne is the big question mark.
Fleener and Allen were both rookies last year, and they both showed hints of rare talent. They will both have to develop, but as of now, they seem like likely options for the future.
LT - Anthony Castonzo, Ijalana/Sowell.
Ijalana is a former first-round draft pick who just can't seem to stay healthy. When he is healthy, he shows signs of greatness and future reliability. If he gets injured, Ijalana is a probable option to fill in, although he may be neede somewhere else on the line. Other than Ijalana, Sowell is the guy to play (who is Sowell???).
LG - Donald Thomas, Hugh Thorton.
Thomas played for the Patriots last season as they put together a very successful running game. He has a great build and skill set for the position, although he did not get much experience while in New England. He could be a very good player and anchor the run game for years. Thorton was drafted this year in the third round, and could be a likely option to take over depending on how well Thomas plays.
Satele played terribly last year at center, which is on reason the Colts drafted Holmes. Holmes has experience as he snapped the ball to Matt Barkley at USC for all those years, and he could definitely produce in the NFL.
McGlynn and Linkenbach are not good. Thorton is apparently a LG, but I think he will win the starting job at RG, and develop into a very good player. Any way you put it, RG is the weakest part of the O-Line. We will see what the season brings.
RT - Gosder Cherilus, Ben Ijalana.
Cherilus is the big FA pickup the Colts had this offseason, and he will be the starter, no doubt. If he gets injured, Ijalana will take over.
The Colts switched to a 3-4 system in 2012. That was the biggest problem with the team last year, although they did improve torwards the end. The 3-4 consists of three DL, four LBs, two CBs and two S. The secondary was very bad to start the year, but as the season progressed, the CBs showed what they could do. However, there were many injuries and much lack of production. The offseason changed things as the Colts aquired many FAs. The depth chart also changed. Take a look.
Redding will probably earn the starting job as he produces great size for the position. On the other side of him, RJF will probably start as well. Francois has little experience but great production while playing. He is young with great upside and will probably start. Behind those two are Matthews, Moala, and Nevis. They are all very inexperienced, but possess great size and speed. They will all be fighting for the job this training camp and preseason.
Angerer led the league in tackles in 2011, but after the change from 4-3 to 3-4, he struggled. Although he was injured most of the year, he still played poorly when in. If he can show he is good this year, he will stay on the team. If not, Indy will let him walk. Conner and Freeman are both very well, and I expect them to win the starting job over everyone else. Sheppard is the latest addition, though he will probably play OLB.
OLBs - Robert Mathis, Bjoern Werner, Eric Walden, Lawrence Sidbury, Kelvin Sheppard. Mathis is expected to start at Rush OLB, something he did not do last year. He may not be productive, in that case Sheppard would probably start. On the other side, Werner should get the starting job. He is a shutdown DE who could be very productive in the 3-4. If he doesn't start, Walden will. I'm expecting a mixed amount of play time between those two. Sidbury would play on passing downs.
Davis did great at the end of last year as he proved to be worth trading a second-round pick for. He will definitely win the starting job this year. Greg Toler will play opposite of Davis as he has had some experience in Arizona. Toler is very talented and should win the #2 spot. Vaughn and Butler will contend at nickel back, and whoever wins the job will not play much more snaps than the other.
The Colts have two pro-bowl safeties in Bethea and Landry. They will both start with Landry playing against the run and Bethea playing in coverage. The backup will be between Leffeged and Boyett.
The Indianapolis Colts look very talented. Give them one year if anything, and they will be scary good. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a super-bowl team within three years in Indianapolis. Best of Luck, Indy!