Last offseason, the defensive line was one of the biggest areas of need for the Colts. So the team went out and added Kendall Langford in free agency and drafted Henry Anderson and David Parry. They let Cory Redding walk and released Josh Chapman at the end of preseason. They made several changes along the defensive line, and it worked out pretty well for them, as the result was an improved unit.
Arthur Jones was once again injured and he was lost for the season before the regular season even began, leaving even more questions along the line for the Colts and leaving a very inexperienced group. It didn't turn out too bad, however, as Jones' injury allowed rookie Henry Anderson to step in and start from week one. Anderson started the first nine games of the season and was fantastic. He recorded 31 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed while being a major contributor in the run game and making several key stops. For the first half of the season, Anderson was playing like one of the best rookies from his draft class, but unfortunately he tore his ACL during the team's week nine win over the Denver Broncos. The injury ended his season, but Anderson was good enough to provide a lot of excitement for his future.
Another player who exceeded expectations in 2015 and gave the Colts great play was Kendall Langford. Signed as a free agent last offseason, Langford was brought in primarily to be a run defender, but he ended up helping the Colts in multiple areas. He started all 16 games (he has played in 128 straight games to start his NFL career!) and recorded 38 tackles, seven sacks, and three passes defensed. His seven sacks set a new career high and were tied for the most on the team as he proved to be one of the most reliable and consistent pass rushers that the Colts had. He also played well against the run and turned out to be one of the team's best players in 2015. The 30-year old (as of today!) should be a key piece of the defensive lineman moving forward alongside the 24-year old Anderson.
The other member of the Colts' starting defensive line was nose tackle David Parry, the 23-year old rookie. Parry started all 16 games for the Colts in 2015 and recorded 31 tackles and a sack, giving the team a solid force in the middle of the defensive line. He wasn't as good as Anderson or Langford, but that's no problem and he was good enough. Parry seemed to hit a bit of the rookie wall later in the season, but overall it was a very positive rookie season for Parry and he was absolutely good enough to be a factor in the unit moving forward.
The Colts also found some good depth guys along their defensive line who gave them productive play. Zach Kerr, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and has been with them ever since, played in 12 games and started four, recording 29 tackles and a pass defensed. Kerr was once again a solid player along the line for the Colts and should continue to be a good depth guy and spot starter. Billy Winn was acquired in a trade from the Browns right before the regular season started and he played in 12 games (starting three), recording 14 tackles and two fumble recoveries, before being placed on injured reserve with two weeks left in the season. He was a reliable player when he entered the game and, like Kerr, could be a good depth player moving forward. T.Y. McGill, who the Colts claimed off of waivers from the Seahawks before the regular season started, played in 12 games and recorded 11 tackles, three sacks, a safety, and a pass defensed. McGill really came on strong late in the season and made the most of his opportunities. He too is an intriguing player going forward for depth purposes. Earl Okine was signed last offseason by the Colts out of the CFL, AFL, and FXFL and made the team out of training camp. He was waived in October, signed to the practice squad, and then signed back to the active roster in December. In total, he played in five games and recorded five tackles.
This offseason, the Colts appear to have a pretty good group together up front on defense. They will have Kendall Langford returning and Henry Anderson coming back from injury, giving them two players who played very well in 2015. Furthermore, when you add in the fact that David Parry gave them solid play at nose tackle and started every game, plus the fact that they have some good depth guys in Zach Kerr, Billy Winn, T.Y. McGill, and others, the Colts appear to have a group they can win with. They also will have Arthur Jones returning from injury, though the question there could be whether they choose to bring him back or part ways with him. If he returns, though, the Colts would have another potential difference maker along their defensive line. None of this is to say that the Colts can't add playmakers up front on defense, but the needs are elsewhere. The Colts have a good, reliable unit along their defensive line and can now focus on other areas this offseason.
For more in-depth analysis of the Colts' 2015 season, check out Josh Wilson's other position reviews: