Recently, ESPN posted an In$ider piece ranking every team's roster, and the ranking for the Indianapolis Colts might surprise you: their roster was ranked 28th out of 32 teams, making them one of the worst in the NFL.
The rankings will likely surprise you much less when the entire context is realized: Pro Football Focus was behind the rankings, as it was only published on ESPN but compiled by PFF.
Here's what PFF had to say on ESPN about the Colts roster being ranked 28th:
Top five players: CB Vontae Davis, WR T.Y. Hilton, OG Jack Mewhort, OT Anthony Castonzo, OLB Trent Cole
Starters who should be upgraded: LB Erik Walden, OG Hugh Thornton, LB D'Qwell Jackson, DT David Parry
The strategy of Andrew Luck carrying a lackluster roster came off the rails in a major way in 2015. The team's free-agency strategy of collecting aging former studs also failed to pay dividends, with only running back Frank Gore providing much value. There were a few bright spots, however. Rookie Henry Anderson was having an excellent season before injury ended it prematurely, and players such as Hilton, Davis and Castonzo are still quality starters. They just need a little more help.
Ok, first of all, the list of "top five players" undermines the credibility of what PFF is trying to say here. I don't care how much you worship a specific grading system, if that system doesn't include Andrew Luck as one of the Colts' top five players (while including Trent Cole, no less!), it's wrong. Simple as that. We've all seen for a while the downfalls of PFF's system, and this is one of the major ones. They rely so much on their system that they simply cannot be completely accurate. If you want to say the Colts roster sucks or that Andrew Luck sucked in 2015, that's one thing. But if you want to try to argue that he's not one of the best players on the Colts, you're wrong. The guy who has helped to carry a sub-par roster to three playoff berths in four years deserves a bit more credit than what he's being given. Their roster isn't great, but listing guys like Trent Cole as better players than Andrew Luck is ridiculous and undermines whatever else PFF might be trying to say. I'm usually pretty lenient with PFF because I realize how much they rely on their own grades (even when wrong), but this particular example is pretty hilarious.
Moving on from that, however, the entire analysis was about the team's 2015 roster moves and how they didn't work out. That's true, but there's also no mention of what the Colts did this offseason trying to correct those mistakes. They waived Andre Johnson and restructured Trent Cole's contract, while they also added two legitimate starters in cornerback Patrick Robinson (cornerback) and center Ryan Kelly (draft), re-signed two key players in tight end Dwayne Allen and kicker Adam Vinatieri, and added some nice depth pieces. It's curious for a ranking of NFL rosters to not even mention anything about the team's offseason this year but only theirs last year.
Furthermore, it's strange to see such a drop in the rankings for the Colts. PFF mentions that this year's rankings include the past two seasons of data averaged together (with more weight given to 2015), and last year they ranked the Colts' roster 13th and listed Luck as one of their best players. So, in other words, one 8-8 season was enough to drop the Colts 15 spots and drop Andrew Luck from the top five players list despite the fact that the rankings are supposed to include more than just the 2015 season. Once again, it's curious.
Ultimately, I think what PFF is trying to get at is something we've heard before: that the Colts' roster isn't that great. They have plenty of holes and several question marks, and it was going to be impossible for them to address all of them this offseason. That means that they might be a year away from seriously contending for a title, but they are laying the groundwork now. The Colts probably don't have one of the absolute worst rosters in the NFL, but their roster certainly isn't anything special either. I think that's what PFF was trying to get at, but they failed in their explanation of it.