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Colts 2017 UDFA’s Most Deserving of Roster Spot

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The Colts have a long history of bringing undrafted players onto their roster. Which 2017 undrafted players fit this year?

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Bug Howard makes a catch against the Dallas Cowboys.
Ron Jenkins / Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts have had an undrafted free agent make their Week 1 regular season roster for the last 18 years. Therefore, history obviously tells us that 2017 should be no different.

With general manager Chris Ballard preaching competition, it means that everybody on the roster from — from high first-round picks all the way down to those long-shot undrafted players — has a chance to make it.

This summer, the Colts have had some of their 2017 undrafted players stand out and make plays. Let’s take a look at which ones are most deserving of a 53-man roster spot.

C/G Deyshawn Bond

2017 Preseason Snaps: 57

2017 Preseason Stats: 2 starts (2 games)

Bond may not have been an above-average performer for the Colts thus far, but injuries to centers Ryan Kelly and Brian Schwenke forced Bond to be the team’s first-team center for a couple of weeks. He has stepped up to answer the call. He has now practiced against the likes of Johnathan Hankins, Henry Anderson and Al Woods, and Bond has started the last two games against A’Shawn Robinson and Stephen Paea. Some of his issues — footwork, for example — are coach-able. He deserves a chance to make it onto the Colts roster and continue to develop.

LS Thomas Hennessy

2017 Preseason Snaps: 22

2017 Preseason Stats: N/A

The Colts released long snapper Matt Overton this spring without another full-time option even on the roster. Two days later, the team signed Hennessy. So far, he has proven to be a capable player. He has been the team’s full-time long snapper, holding off Luke Rhodes (who is also a linebacker). It’s hard to evaluate long snappers without knowing the nuances of the position. So, the fact that Hennessy’s snaps have appeared pretty accurate and crisp, and he gets downfield on punt returns, makes him deserving of the spot he already occupies.

WR Bug Howard

2017 Preseason Snaps: 79

2017 Preseason Stats: 3 catches, 19 yards (6.3 avg)

Fans haven’t seen much out of Howard yet in the preseason, but if you have kept up with training camp updates, he is a familiar name. At 6-4, 214 pounds, Colts quarterbacks have become very comfortable with Howard. From what I’ve seen, he is the go-to guy for the second and third-team quarterbacks, particularly Phillip Walker. If Howard performs well in the next two preseason games, he could definitely make an argument for a roster spot.

WR JoJo Natson

2017 Preseason Snaps: 61

2017 Preseason Stats: 8 catches, 111 yards (13.9 avg), 1 carry, 7 yards (7.0 avg), 4 kickoff returns, 93 yards (23.3 avg), 5 punt returns, 33 yards (6.6 avg)

I’ll admit, when I researched Natson when he was signed by the Colts, I assumed he wouldn’t contribute to anything but the return game. While I think that would be his role if he makes the roster, he has performed well at everything that he’s been asked to do this summer. On offense, Natson has gotten open and made plays on the ball, and he has looked as advertised in the return game. So far, Natson leads the Colts in receptions and receiving yards. That can’t be easy for a player who is only 5-7 and 153 pounds.