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Taking a pre-draft look at the Colts’ defensive line

NFL: New York Giants at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Colts’ defensive line actually doesn’t look too bad.

If Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford can both return healthy and to their 2015 form, then the Colts will have a very good staring trio in Anderson, Langford, and the recently-signed Johnathan Hankins. Assuming they’re all healthy, that’s a great trio.

Anderson impressed in his rookie season in 2015, emerging as one of the team’s top defensive players before tearing his ACL midseason. He was hampered by that injury some last year too and admitted he was never 100%, but he says he’s back to health now. Similarly, Langford had a very impressive 2015 season but was injured in the 2016 preseason, and even in the seven games he played he was not as effective. He wound up on IR midseason.

Hankins was the biggest offseason addition for the Colts, as the 25 year old has produced in the NFL and has been a force up front for the Giants, particularly against the run. He will play both nose tackle and three-technique with the Colts.

Not only do the Colts have those three, however, they also seem to have some pretty good depth. Hassan Ridgeway had a nice rookie season for the Colts last year and could be a nice rotational guy, while T.Y. McGill has particular value as a pass rushing rotational guy. David Parry has been the starting nose tackle for the last two seasons, but he’ll now be competing for a roster spot with Al Woods, who was signed this offseason to provide more depth. And then there’s also the wild card of Margus Hunt, the project player who was signed by the Colts this offseason primarily as a special teamer but who also will get a chance to compete at defensive end.

Considering all of those guys, the Colts look to have a pretty good defensive line group. With Anderson, Langford, and Hankins as the starters and some combination of Ridgeway, McGill, Parry, Woods, and perhaps others providing depth and rotation, the Colts don’t have to add a defensive lineman in the draft. This is not nearly as pressing of a position need as the others on defense like outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, and safety - so, basically, this is the position the Colts need the least on defense.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t take a defensive lineman or two if they like the player that’s available. We know that Chris Ballard will largely employ a BPA approach, and he’s also emphasized building through the trenches. So I would expect the Colts to add more competition to the defensive line at some point, whether it’s through the draft or through rookie free agent signings. That could really help to bolster the unit. But even if the Colts don’t address it, the defensive line should at the very least be a solid unit if everyone’s healthy. That makes it a position that they certainly might address but don’t absolutely have to - a rarity for this defense.