Quarterbacks (3): Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris
Luck’s health is in question and it doesn’t appear as if he’ll be playing week one. That means that the Colts must carry three quarterbacks to start the season. Who should start is a completely different question, but we do know that Tolzien and Morris are the next best quarterbacks on the roster. This is a no-brainer decision for the Colts.
Running Backs (3): Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, Marlon Mack
The only decision here was whether the Colts should keep Josh Ferguson or not. Ferguson is a decent returner (although he wasn’t used in the preseason), but JoJo Natson has out-shined him on returns during the preseason. Ferguson has had issues with reliability (fumbles, missed blocks) as a running back, so it doesn’t make much sense for the Colts to keep him. They should be fine with Gore, Turbin and Mack leading the way.
Wide Receivers (6): T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Kamar Aiken, Chester Rogers, JoJo Natson
The first 5 receivers are essentially locks for the active roster. I still strongly believe that Dorsett will be traded at some point in the season, but for now, he seems like a safe bet for the active roster. The question becomes whether the Colts should keep JoJo Natson. Natson had a productive preseason and looked good as a returner. He struggled in his final game of the preseason, but I believe the good has outweighed the bad for Natson. He deserves a spot on the active roster, but is one of the fringe players.
Tight Ends (3): Jack Doyle, Erik Swoope, Brandon Williams
The Doyler is a God amongst men, so I’m not too worried about him. Swoope is still raw, but has very good potential as a receiving tight end in two tight end packages. Brandon Williams should serve as a blocking specialist with limited upside as a receiver. Those three guys are pretty solid locks for the active roster.
Offensive Linemen (8): Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, Ryan Kelly, Joe Haeg, LeRaven Clark, Denzelle Good, Zach Banner, Brian Schwenke
Looking at this offensive line, I must say it’s average at best... and that may be putting it nicely. I believe the Colts are going to struggle protecting Andrew Luck, especially with Ryan Kelly injured for the first several games of the seaosn. The right side of the offensive line is a complete unknown and Schwenke at center won’t do much to help the Colts. I expect to see a lot of different line combinations, especially in the earlier portion of the season.
Defensive Linemen (8): Henry Anderson, Jonathan Hankins, Hassan Ridgeway, Margus Hunt, Al Woods, Grover Stewart, TY McGill, David Parry
This group is highlighted by Jonathan Hankins, their big bodied defensive tackle who should eat up running backs coming up the middle. Anderson and Ridgeway are good complimentary players and the Colts have good depth players who should be rotating on a regular basis. This group will be strong against the run, but I suspect they’ll have issues against the pass.
Linebackers (9): John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, Tarell Bashem, Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison, Anthony Walker, Sean Spence, Jon Bostic, Luke Rhodes (Not Counted as Linebacker)
This group played very physically in the preseason and impressed me quite a bit. Simon and Sheard look like two legit outside linebackers and Morrison and Spence should have a good presence up the middle. Edwin Jackson should get reps as he’s a physical force in the box. While this group will struggle to consistently pressure the quarterback, they are physical and should be very good against the run.
Cornerbacks (5): Vontae Davis, Quincy Wilson, Rashaan Melvin, Nate Hairston, T.J. Green
Vontae Davis is expected to miss a few weeks with a groin injury. Because of Butler’s versatility, I still have the Colts keeping 5 (official) cornerbacks. Green might be listed as a safety, but his best work in the preseason came as a cornerback and he actually has very good potential on the outside. This is a very young group that will most likely be exposed against top teams, but they do possess a lot of talent that could save the Colts in key situations especially against weak quarterbacks.
Safeties (5): Darius Butler, Matthias Farley, Malik Hooker, Andrew Williamson, Tyvis Powell, Clayton Geathers PUP (Not Counted on Active Roster)
This group is weak without Geathers. Butler, Farley and Hooker can hold down the fort, but there will be some down days and this group could be exposed very easily. Butler is a good, veteran presence in the secondary and his versatility will be key moving forward. The group is a little thin with Williamson and Powell, and when Geathers is taken off the PUP, expect one of those two to be waived.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez
Long Snapper: Luke Rhodes
To recap, this team isn’t doing much without Andrew Luck. They’ve already suffered some tough injuries to key players (Ryan Kelly and Vontae Davis), so this unit needs to overcome a lot of obstacles. Even with Andrew Luck, this team will struggle to beat good, playoff teams. In the AFC South, the Colts will always have a chance of making the playoffs, but this team is very young and very raw and they’re already getting hit with the injury bug. I’ll be watching the first few games with hands over my eyes.