In the NFL, teams are ideally looking for a perfect blend of talent and age. In other words, teams want the most talented players but ideally they'd be younger, meaning that they have more time left to play. It's difficult to find both, but that's why people undertake rankings of the best players under the age of 25 - because you want teams to be developing younger talent.
Last year, when ESPN undertook their under 25 rankings, the Indianapolis Colts were among the best in the league, coming in at number four. This year, the Colts dropped 26 spots and are now among the worst in the league at the area, coming in at number 30. The reason? Andrew Luck had a birthday. Last year he still technically qualified on the ranking as an "under 25" player, but this year he doesn't. So, because of that, the Colts' ranking plummets in this list.
No team suffered a bigger drop in the rankings than the Colts. Andrew Luck barely made the age cut last year, so his removal is the main reason for this fall. The only projected U25 starter for the Colts is Jack Mewhort, who was mediocre as a rookie last year, ranking 25th in snaps per blown block among left guards. He has been working at right tackle this offseason to replace the disappointingGosder Cherilus.
For an offense like the Colts', the secondary wide receivers (Donte Moncrief and first-round rookie Phillip Dorsett) are likely to see a lot of playing time and targets. They round out one of the league's best receiving corps, but the Colts already had one of the best before the Dorsett pick. Acquiring young building blocks for the defense has been a major problem in general manager Ryan Grigson's tenure. Draft experts like the third-round selection of defensive end Henry Anderson, but he may not be ready to make an immediate impact. Third-round cornerback D'Joun Smith projects as a dime back at best for a defense that ranked as the oldest in the NFL last year.
The best hope for an impact defender this year is Jonathan Newsome, who led the Colts with 6.5 sacks last year. But the edge rusher depth chart is pretty crowded, with Robert Mathis, Trent Cole,Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden all seeking playing time.
It's really hard to argue with this ranking, because the real player you could hang an argument on is Andrew Luck, but while he's still young, he's not on this under-25 list anymore. As Kacsmar notes, Jack Mewhort - the team's starting right tackle - is the only projected starter who is under 25 years old (Mewhort is 23).
The Colts have some other players younger than 25 years old who are interesting to keep an eye on, however, even if they likely won't be starters right away - and this list includes players like Phillip Dorsett, Donte Moncrief, D'Joun Smith, Clayton Geathers, David Parry, Henry Anderson, Josh Robinson, Duron Carter, Jonotthan Harrison, Jonathan Newsome, and Hugh Thornton.
Furthermore, the Colts have a lot of young talent that might not qualify for a list of players 25 years old or under but who are still impressive. 13 of the team's 22 projected starters are under 30 years old, including T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Anthony Castonzo, Khaled Holmes, Jack Mewhort, Arthur Jones, Kendall Langford, Josh Chapman, Jerrell Freeman, Vontae Davis, and Dwight Lowery - oh, and that Andrew Luck guy, too.
When there's such a close distinction between still having young players but not qualifying for this list (such as with Andrew Luck), it means a lot less than it normally might, but at the same time I think it shows us that the Colts need to draft better. Understand that only one of the Colts' projected starters on the defensive side of the football was drafted by the team (Josh Chapman - and Robert Mathis whenever he returns). They need to do a better job at adding young talent defensively, so hopefully guys like D'Joun Smith, Clayton Geathers, Henry Anderson, and David Parry can contribute to the defense and turn out to be significant players down the road.