It's no secret that many Colts fans don't like Greg Toler. It's nothing against him personally, but for many fans, he gets burned way too often and they don't think he's a great starting cornerback. While that's a fair opinion, we also need to realize that he's an important player when it comes to the Colts' success in 2015.
In two years with the Colts, Toler has played in 24 games and has started 21 of them, recording 80 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, 16 passes defensed, and three interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown). He's clearly the Colts' number two cornerback for at least one more year, and he fits what the Colts want to do defensively in their press man system. He's definitely the best option at the other outside cornerback spot opposite of Vontae Davis, as Darius Butler is the slot corner and D'Joun Smith, while talented, is only a rookie and is likely to be the fourth corner to start the season. So that leaves Toler once again as the unquestioned number two corner, and while he hasn't been great in the role, he hasn't been as bad as many fans seem to think he has been. He has, often times, given the Colts solid play, and the same was true of the 2014 season. Outside of the week sixteen disaster against the Cowboys in which Toler was absolutely destroyed, he had a pretty solid, consistent season. He also stayed healthy for all but one game, something that he hadn't done before in his career.
We can talk all day about how Toler might be a bit better than the perception of him, but he definitely isn't among the 15 best Colts players. So why include him on this list? It's simple, really: because he's going to get thrown at. A lot. In the 2014 regular season, he was targeted 99 times, the ninth-most of any cornerback in football, while in the playoffs he was targeted an additional 26 times in three games (per Pro Football Focus). Playing opposite of Vontae Davis, who was arguably the league's best cornerback in 2014, Toler's workload will surely continue to increase as quarterbacks begin to shy away from Davis' side of the field. That means that, particularly when facing good passing offenses like the Patriots, Saints, Broncos, Steelers, and others, the pressure will be on Toler. Quarterbacks will throw toward his side of the field (just like Tony Romo did last year) and it will be up to him to defend and make enough plays. It won't be solely up to him, of course, as Davis and Darius Butler will still see action, but it's safe to assume that Toler will have the largest workload of any of the cornerbacks. Therefore, if he can play well in that role, it would be big for a Colts' secondary that already boasts one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Past rankings on this list: 12th (2014)
Check out our list counting down the 15 most important players to the Colts' success in 2015:
15. Jerrell Freeman, ILB
14. Greg Toler, CB