Today, however, ESPN's Mike Wells reported that, "the Colts were never in the running for Wilfork." And here's what Wells says was the reason why: "because they're optimistic about Josh Chapman, Montori Hughes, Zach Kerr and Kelcy Quarles at defensive tackle." Wells notes that the Colts are most interested in adding another starting safety and depth at the inside linebacker position - both of which certainly are big needs too.
The confidence in the depth at defensive line was the same reason why the team didn't go after Terrance Knighton or Nick Fairley, Wells had previously said.
So here's what we're beginning to see quite clearly: the Colts really like some of the young talent that they have along their defensive line. Between the four players mentioned (Chapman, Hughes, Kerr, and Quarles), they played in 42 games for the Colts last season (16 starts), combining for 49 tackles, four sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Chapman in particular played a significant role, starting 15 games and playing in all 16. He was very promising in training camp and preseason but didn't have a particularly good regular season. Kerr and Hughes filled key depth roles for the Colts last year, while Quarles appeared in just two games.
On the one hand, it's easy to see why the Colts would rather stick to the players that they know, and certainly they could do worse than guys like Chapman, Kerr, Hughes, and Quarles. That's not a bad group of depth linemen. Certainly some of them will take on bigger roles in 2015. But on the other hand, the Colts still appear to need help along the defensive line. It clearly wasn't good enough last year, and here's all the Colts have done so far this offseason: add Kendall Langford and lose Cory Redding. I do think the addition of Langford will be a good one, but I don't think the defensive line has gotten that much better, and they still could use help at nose tackle. Arthur Jones will (hopefully) be improved next year and they added Langford, but I don't think many fans feel great about the defensive line, and that's understandable.
So far, the defensive line reminds me somewhat of the center position for the Colts last year. Ryan Grigson loved the talent that he already had in Khaled Holmes, but by not addressing it further he was putting all of the hopes on Holmes to produce. I understand that Holmes will enter the 2015 season as the starter and I think that's the right move, but in 2014 the center position was, for the most part, a mess. With the defensive line, if Grigson is super confident in the guys that he has, they'd better produce.
I still wouldn't rule out the Colts targeting a defensive lineman in the draft, but considering their apparent lack of interest in seriously pursuing some of the defensive linemen available in free agency, it seems quite likely that they feel confident at the position. I like Chapman, Kerr, and Hughes as depth linemen, but we'll just have to wait and see whether the Colts' confidence in them pays off or not.