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Projecting the Colts’ defensive depth chart

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are in the midst of offseason workouts, and most of their big moves are done with for this offseason. So that makes it a perfect time to take an early look at the projected depth chart.

Yesterday we looked at a projected two-deep depth chart for the offense, and now we’ll look at one for the defense. Remember, this is all just my guess as to how the depth chart will line up and especially on the defensive side of the ball there are many things that could change, but here it is:

DT: Hassan Ridgeway; Grover Stewart

NT: Johnathan Hankins; Al Woods

DE: Henry Anderson; Kendall Langford

The Colts love and prioritize versatility among their defensive linemen, which makes a projection like this difficult. For example: we don’t yet know whether Johnathan Hankins will spend most of his time at nose tackle or at defensive tackle. Furthermore, we don’t know whether Henry Anderson would again play at the three-tech (DT) to allow Kendall Langford to also start (at DE), like what happened in 2015. We also don’t know exactly what to expect from Stewart, who I have at DT even though he worked mainly at nose tackle during rookie mini-camp. So this is all very fluid, but don’t miss a few of the main points: I think Anderson and Langford returning healthy are key for the Colts’ defensive line in 2017; I think Hassan Ridgeway could be in line for a bigger role; and I think Al Woods probably has the slight edge on David Parry as the backup nose tackle, but it’s basically a coin flip at this point in my mind.

OLB: Jabaal Sheard; Akeem Ayers

OLB: John Simon; Tarell Basham

At outside linebacker, I think the two big free agent signings are probably in line to start. Behind them, I think Tarell Basham (the team’s third round pick) should see work as a situational pass rusher right away, and Akeem Ayers is also a guy to keep an eye on as a potential backup and situational guy, as he’s got some nice rush traits too. Though neither Sheard nor Simon are a true rush linebacker, they both can get after the quarterback and I think we’ll see the two of them starting with Basham and Ayers also seeing playing time in rush roles. But there’s still a lot of guys wanting to prove themselves at this position.

ILB: Sean Spence; Jon Bostic

ILB: Edwin Jackson; Anthony Walker

Probably the most wide open competition on the roster for starting spots, I have Sean Spence and Edwin Jackson slotted as the starters in this projection. Then as the backups, I have Jon Bostic and rookie Anthony Walker, which you’ll notice is significant since it would mean Antonio Morrison winds up as the fifth inside linebacker. That could easily change (again, the position is wide open), but it’s just my projection. I like Walker and what he brings, and I think he could eventually work his way up the depth chart.

CB: Vontae Davis; Darryl Morris

CB: Quincy Wilson; Rashaan Melvin

At cornerback, I expect it to be Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson as the starters as long as they’re healthy. I do like Rashaan Melvin though (probably more than most, at least) and think he’s a very capable number three corner who could step in and start in case of an injury to either Davis or Wilson. As for the number four cornerback, it could wind up as Nate Hairston, but I put Darryl Morris here because I like what he brings in the slot. I didn’t list nickel corner on this depth chart, but depending on what the Colts decide to do with Darius Butler a slot corner could be important to keep around.

FS: Malik Hooker; Darius Butler

SS: Clayton Geathers; T.J. Green

I really like the safety duo of Malik hooker and Clayton Geathers and think there’s a lot to be excited about there... as long as they’re healthy. Hooker is currently recovering from injury, though he should be back in time for training camp, while Geathers’ recovery from neck surgery is undisclosed, so we don’t know when he’ll be back. That makes the depth very important, and it seems clear that Darius Butler and T.J. Green are the top depth safeties. To be honest, this was probably the easiest position to predict on the defense in this depth chart.

Again, this is all just a guess based on what we know right now, and a lot of it will probably change as we get closer to the season and actually get to see these guys on the field. The defense is especially hard to project, but what are your thoughts on this projected depth chart?