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The Colts gave the second-most snaps to rookies of any team in the NFL last year

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2016 season wasn’t a great one for the Indianapolis Colts, as they struggled and wound up going 8-8. But it wasn’t all bad, as they did get the chance to give several young guys plenty of reps.

According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Colts gave 3,342 snaps to rookies in 2016, which was the second-most in the league. Only the Cleveland Browns (4,390) gave more snaps to rookies, while the Tennessee Titans were third (3,329).

On the one hand, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s quite possible that there’s a correlation between the Colts going 8-8 and giving a ton of snaps to inexperienced guys, while it’s also quite possible that this speaks more to the state of the Colts’ roster than the talent of the rookies (in other words that the Colts’ roster is so devoid of talent that rookies can easily step in an earn significant playing time).

You could also view this as an encouraging sign, however, if you see it as the Colts giving valuable reps to younger guys to help them develop. If that’s the case, then even though the 2016 season was a discouraging one, it could help them in the long run by giving rookies the chance to develop.

In reality, it’s probably a bit of both views. The Colts wound up giving 50 starts to rookies, and most of those came from the team’s draft class. Of the eight players drafted, seven of them made the roster and stuck around, combining to start 47 games and play in 94. That includes Ryan Kelly, who really impressed at center, but it also includes safety T.J. Green, who really didn’t impress. But the Colts’ 2016 draft class is encouraging in the sense that it has several younger guys who look to be potential developmental guys that could be worth sticking with. Here’s a look at the draft picks who played for the Colts last year:

Ryan Kelly, center - 16 GP / 16 GS

T.J. Green, safety - 15 GP / 4 GS

Le’Raven Clark, tackle - 8 GP / 3 GS

Hassan Ridgeway, defensive lineman - 16 GP / 5 GS

Antonio Morrison, inside linebacker - 16 GP / 4 GS

Joe Haeg, offensive lineman - 15 GP / 14 GS

Austin Blythe, center - 8 GP / 1 GS

The undrafted free agent class also produced some nice finds, such as wide receiver Chester Rogers (who played in 14 games and started two), outside linebacker Curt Maggitt (who played in nine games), safety Matthias Farley (who played in all 16 games), cornerback Christopher Milton (who played in six games and started one), and even running back Josh Ferguson (who played in all 16 games).

The Colts were a bad enough team that they needed to rely heavily on rookies in 2016, but hopefully that will pay off in the long run as these rookies gained valuable playing time.