The Indianapolis Colts made a ton of moves this offseason in an effort to improve their team, but they're not fixed yet.
The team brought in GM Chris Ballard this offseason to oversee a rebuild of their below-average roster, and while it seems that Ballard has been making good moves that help make the team better, it still is worth remembering that things won't be perfect right away. Pro Football Focus recently offered a reminder of that, as they ranked the 32 rosters in the NFL for a recent piece for ESPN.
PFF ranked the Colts' roster 26th overall, ahead of only the Bills, Lions, Browns, 49ers, Rams, and Jets. They wrote that the roster's biggest strength was Luck (and he was also listed as the team's best starter), while the biggest weakness was listed as finding a secondary wide receiver threat behind T.Y. Hilton (with Phillip Dorsett being listed as the worst starter).
Perhaps the most interesting part of their article, however, was a layout of each team's projected starters for the 2017 season color-coded by what grade they received from PFF last year. I've broken down that list of starters into this table, listing the starters by category (again, per PFF's 2016 grades), with the rookies not included:
|Elite (90+)||Good/High Quality (80-89.9)||Average (70-79.9)||Below Average (60.9-69.9)||Poor (0-69)|
|Andrew Luck, QB||T.Y. Hilton, WR||Frank Gore, RB||Erik Swoope, TE||Phillip Dorsett, WR|
|Anthony Castonzo, LT||Jack Doyle, TE||Edwin Jackson, LB||Denzelle Good, RG|
|Jack Mewhort, LG||Donte Moncrief, WR||Le'Raven Clark, RT|
|Ryan Kelly, C||Henry Anderson, DL||Johnathan Hankins, DL|
|Clayton Geathers, S||Jabaal Sheard, LB||Kendall Langford, DL|
|John Simon, LB||Vontae Davis,CB|
|Sean Spence, LB|
|Darryl Morris, CB|
Whether or not you agree with PFF's grading system, that chart above helps us see what their thoughts are on the Colts' roster in a more specific manner, breaking it down by player. Here we must add an incredibly important point, however: these 2016 grades are not a complete picture of these players. For example, Vontae Davis was rated in the "poor" category based on 2016 with a 47.3 grade, but since 2014 he's got the fifth-lowest passer rating against in the entire NFL. He's a good player, even if you view 2016 as a down year for him. Furthermore, you have to understand that these are the grades PFF has given players based on their system, so it's not guaranteed to be perfect.
With all of that said, I find it an interesting look at the Colts' roster. Of particular interest to me was the offensive line situation. Notice that only six players are in the two top categories (elite and good), and three of them are offensive linemen! The trio of Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, and Ryan Kelly have been viewed as the building blocks of the line, and it seems that PFF agrees with that statement, as they think that the three all had good seasons in 2016. But the other two projected starters, Denzelle Good and Le'Raven Clark, both were in the poor category. Aside from the fact that Joe Haeg is the projected starter at right guard rather than Good, this also reflects something else we've mentioned several times about the offensive line: a big part of the unit's overall success will depend on the continued improvement of the younger players, namely Clark and Haeg. That also is reflected in PFF's grades.
As for an overall view of the roster, PFF's grades show that the Colts have a lot of average, quite a bit of below average to poor, and a handful of good to elite players. That feels about right. The Colts aren't the worst roster in the NFL, but they're at best an average roster even with the new additions this offseason. It will be a slow process of adding enough talent to the defense, but it seems to be off to a good start. We should be careful with our epectations, however, as we shouldn't expect this roster to be fixed right away.