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What is the Bigger Need for the Colts: Offensive Line or Pass Rusher?

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Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz breaks down the biggest need for the Colts.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Draft day is approaching and the "hot taeks" are increasing, so that means it's time to look at the draft needs of the Colts. The Colts have many needs, but none are bigger than the offensive line and the edge defender/pass rusher spots. The Colts' quarterbacks were beaten up constantly last season and the Colts front 7 weren't able to beat up any opposing quarterbacks; that is not a recipe for success. However, one need is bigger than the other. Which is a bigger need for the Colts going into the draft? Which is more important to address? It depends on what your philosophy is, but let me try and break it down for you.

Offensive Line

If you were a Colts fan between the years 2001 and 2006, you know that they had the (probably) best offense in football. They had one of the best quarterbacks, one of the best running backs, one of the best receiver groups and perhaps the best offensive line in football. Today, the Colts have a great quarterback, a very good receiving group, a good enough running back, but they're missing the offensive line. In order for the Colts to become amongst the three best offenses on a year-to-year basis, they'll need to shore up that offensive line. The good news is that they have 3 good pieces in place, but must fix the other two starting spots while ensuring that they have good depth moving forward.

Joe Reitz is currently a wildcard, but for the sake of this article, let's say he plays at right tackle. If he plays at right tackle, that would leave a hole at center and at right guard. A lot of the runs go through those holes and JJ Watt, who the Colts see twice a year, makes his living beating up on centers and guards. The Colts need to find ways to getting quality talent to those two positions.

Pass Rusher

The Colts have a weak group of outside linebackers/edge defenders. Only 3 edge defenders currently on the roster are guaranteed to be on the team come September (Trent Cole, Robert Mathis, Erik Walden). So not only is it a weak group, but they are lacking in numbers. The Colts averaged 2.2 sacks per game (35 overall), which was 22nd best in the NFL. The Colts fail to consistently pressure the passer, and that allows opposing quarteerbacks to pick apart the Colts' defense as they have time to scan the field and make the proper throws. There is a strong correlation between a strong pass rush and having a good defense. The top 6 teams in terms of sack numbers are (in order): Denver, New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Houston and Carolina. Those were arguably the 6 best defenses in football last season, so if you want to have a great defense, you're going to need a great pass rush.

Another issue with the current outside linebackers is that they are all over the age of 30. They need to get some fresh blood in the group. All three of them are going to be free agents in 2017. I can't spell it any clearer...

Answer

So, with both positions broken down, which is a bigger need? In my opinion, I believe that pass rusher is a bigger need for the Colts. They are lacking in numbers and in talent, and despite the holes along the offensive line, there is talent and they have bodies. The Colts have talent in the secondary and they've invested draft picks in their secondary. The Colts have talent along their defensive line and they've invested picks in their defensive line. The Colts have little talent at outside linebacker and they need to invest draft picks in order to build a dominant front 7, which in turn will lead to a strong defense.

Building a great offensive line is important, but the Colts are about halfway there. The Colts need to focus on building a strong group of pass rushers that will help make their defense legitimate.

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