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Colts Mid-Preseason 53-Man Roster Projection

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As we’ve made our way to the halfway point in the preseason and while some of the excitement has subsided a bit, the Indianapolis Colts are still just two weeks from releasing their 53-man roster. Some things have changed whether it be due to injuries or performance, but I’m going to give you my version of the Colts roster as it currently stands, and as if I were the GM.

Offense: 25

Quarterback (3)

Andrew Luck

Stephen Morris

Scott Tolzien

You’ll see this in a couple different spots throughout this projection, but Luck is currently taking a roster spot based on the last thing released by the team. With that said Stephen Morris deserves the first team reps in Pittsburgh to see what he can do against a respectable defense.

This would either relieve, or reinforce the need to look outside of the building for a reasonable starter in Luck’s absence. I do think the Colts hang on to three quarterbacks given the current situation, and I would as well.

Running Back (4)

Frank Gore

Robert Turbin

Marlon Mack

*Troymaine Pope

The running back position is one that, at least in the top three, is a foregone conclusion. Josh Ferguson hasn’t been around and Pope has shown to be a hard worker, and relentless runner despite his limited potential. Gore, Mack and Turbin will be an interesting threesome and offer a nice mix of power, speed and big play ability. I like this backfield for now, but it’ll be one position that I’m watching closely when the final cuts come down as I think it’d be one that I may be able to find an upgrade on the waiver wire.

Wide Receiver (5)

T.Y. Hilton

Donte Moncrief

Chester Rogers

Kamar Aiken

*JoJo Natson

That’s right, I wasn’t just blowing smoke when I said that I thought Natson could legitimately make this roster. Phillip Dorsett simply hasn’t shown anything, and has spent some critical time being injured given his current situation. I also think Bug Howard could sneak in there too, and one of the players to watch carefully will be Rogers.

He’s been missing practice since the day following the Colts preseason Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions with a hamstring and it worries me that there could be another reason as to why that’s not healing in a timely fashion.

Moncrief has been wearing the red non-contact jersey in practice lately, but I feel that’s a precaution for the most part and they simply don’t want to risk any further issues with him previous to the season kicking off. Aiken seems like the most palatable option to round out the back end of the position, but that is very fluid right now for my money.

In the end, Natson gives the Colts a more well-rounded option with return ability, route running and good hands with the only knock being his size and possible durability issues. Maybe the Colts keep six, but when handing out the final roster spots (*) I found roster value elsewhere.

Tight End (4)

Jack Doyle

Brandon Williams

Erik Swoope

*Darell Daniels

Again, we don’t know what’s going on with Swoope’s return or when it will occur, but assuming he can be healthy by the Week 1 trip to L.A. he gets a roster spot. We may see him placed on IR and return later which would open a spot for Henry Krieger-Coble for me, but right now this group gives my roster the most well-rounded group for what I want out of the position.

Daniels has looked good in the passing game and has been getting better as a blocker as well. I like his ceiling and speed to add to this group contrasting what Williams and Doyle offer in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Watch this position during league cuts as well.

Offensive Line (9)

Anthony Castonzo

Joe Haeg

Brian Schwenke

Jack Mewhort

Le’Raven Clark

Denzelle Good

Ryan Kelly

*Zach Banner

*Jeremy Vujnovich

I actually expect this to be different than what’s above, but for the time being Kelly isn’t on IR, or any other designation so this is what we’ll take. With Schwenke, Mewhort, Good, Haeg and Vujnovich all capable of playing guard there was no need for me to add Adam Redmond who has actually outplayed Vujnovich in my eyes, but for the same reason at tackle, he’s going to get the nod.

Versatility and ability collide here when looking for the best group and depth will be key to a group who is still underperforming – but, they are a young group. I’m not a huge fan of Banner at the moment, but size and strength is a major need in the running game and there are just so many questions surrounding the team’s throwing acumen at the moment. Another group that could see an addition from league cuts with so many questions with protection.

Defense: 25

Defensive Line (7)

T.Y. McGill

Johnathan Hankins

Al Woods

Hassan Ridgeway

Henry Anderson

Grover Stewart

*Margus Hunt

I really like this group. McGill, Hankins, Woods and Stewart are all versatile enough to handle the zero- and three-technique and Hunt, Anderson and Ridgeway can work the five. The potential here is better without someone like David Parry and if you’ve noticed the Colts line – while struggling against the run so far – have been very active in batting passes down.

They aren’t sacks, but they certainly aren’t short receptions with a ton of yards after the catch either. Hunt and Woods will be utilized as such, and I feel the ability to rush the passer and stop the run will significantly improve as time goes on. For me, this is the best talent/scheme specific mix that the current roster has to offer. Depth along the line, on the roster, is paramount this season. The team can’t afford to let these guys hit the wire.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Jon Bostic

Antonio Morrison

Edwin Jackson

Anthony Walker

*Jeremiah George

Initially Sean Spence was in this group ahead of Walker, but – full disclosure – I expect Spence to have a injury designation very soon being that we haven’t seen him on the field since following the first preseason game. He’s in a similar position as Chester Rogers, but I think at this point Rogers is more important to the team and will be kept around.

I have concerns with this group, and we haven’t seen the newest addition at the position to the roster, Darnell Sankey, on the field to make any guesses as to his future on the team. George has really impressed me thus far. He’s reminiscent to Kavell Conner whom I really liked for what he provided, and in a depth/special teams role, George would be valuable.

I have my concerns with Bostic, as well as the possibility with the Colts starting Morrison and Jackson again this year, which I expect to eventually be the case if Bostic doesn’t begin covering better. There have been rumors of this position being upgraded at some point and, once again, it will be a position to watch closely come league cut downs. The Colts can’t hit all of these positions, but all of them I’ve mentioned are extremely vulnerable just the same.

Outside Linebacker (5)

Jabaal Sheard

John Simon

Akeem Ayers

Tarell Basham

*Barkevious Mingo

I don’t think there are any surprises here. However, Mingo and Lavar Edwards are very different options at the same position. Mingo offers the speed, and has gotten better fending off linemen, while Edwards is more of a strong side option and probably doesn’t offer as much on special teams. These two will be extremely interesting to watch in the final two games of the preseason.

Basham has a long way to go in my eyes, but if he can at least continue to be solid against the run then there’s something to work with theoretically. Sheard offers a nice combination of pass rushing ability and run defense, as does Simon, but the Colts are really going to need a designated pass rusher to emerge from this group. It may just have to be the guy who offered the most consistency last season in Ayers.

While I think this is an upgrade to what the team had last season, this unit still worries me about what they can legitimately achieve this year.

Cornerback (5)

Vontae Davis

Quincy Wilson

Rashaan Melvin

Nate Hairston

*Corey White

I like rookies Wilson and Hairston and I think the Colts do too. Davis and Melvin are going to have to improve tremendously from what they’ve shown thus far and the secondary will have to find a legit nickel option from this group. I added White because of his versatility, both, at the cornerback position – being able to move around to multiple spots, but also because he can play safety as well.

This will help with sub package work and add depth should injuries or poor play arise to the point that a change to the starting lineup is an order. Only keeping five, though I would like to keep six, but you’ll find out why at the next position we cover.

Safety (3)

Darius Butler

Malik Hooker

T.J. Green

Again, I know this looks odd, but Green can help with the cornerback position and did pretty good in his limited work last week, and White also offers some help to this safety position. In order to keep the talent where it’s desperately needed – at this moment – I had to skimp in position specifics here.

I truly believe that they will keep Mathias Farley as well, but I think there’s enough versatility in this secondary to leave him out for right now – plus, I just don’t think he’s that good. Truth be told, I’d rather keep another corner with the options we have currently than mess with another safety. It’s a little unconventional, but it’s what I’m doing.

Specialists (3)

Jeff Locke

Adam Vinatieri

Tom Hennessey

To round out the roster, we still have to talk about our specialists. The only reason Locke is in here is because he’s the more consistent option. His stats on punts inside the 20 yard line speaks for itself and the Colts may need that field position this year pretty badly.

Vinny isn’t in any risk of losing anything other than the last few dark hairs on his head, and Hennessey is definitely the best long snapper on the roster. Luke Rhodes has been working in and out there, but he’s just not good enough at linebacker or snapping to keep around unfortunately.

With the way I believe this season will turn out, I would almost rather keep Rigoberto Sanchez around as opposed to Locke, but I don’t think that will happen. Consistency will likely win the battle there, again, unfortunately.