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Practice squad players the Colts should target

Colts need to add depth desperately, which players among the league’s practice squads should they consider?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season has not gone according to plan for the Indianapolis Colts. After starting the year 1-5 and having a laundry list of players on the injury report week after week, there are a few changes that need to be made. Many fans and writers have proposed exploring the trade market, as many big named players are rumored to be available. That is great in theory but trading in the NFL— simply put— is very hard. I personally would rather address the issue of depth on this team through a different avenue— practice squad players.

Practice squad players are often forgotten about when people explore adding talent to a team mostly because they are technically signed to other teams. If the Colts were to add another team’s practice squad player to their roster, they would need to keep that player on the roster for three weeks at a minimum. With just how injured the Colts are right now and how poorly some of their depth players have played at times, looking at other team’s Practice Squad guys could be beneficial to the team.

The main positions that I’m concerned with on the Colts for depth are DL, WR, CB, S, and RB. So let’s look at some potential candidates that I’d consider poaching from other team’s practice squads.

Reece Fountain/ Steve Ishmael, WRs, Colts

So I guess I’m kind of cheating here with my first selections as the majority of this piece is about poaching players from other practice squads. That being said though, it would be a waste if the Colts didn’t consider their own in house players first before looking at other practice squads.

Reece Fountain is a big, athletic receiver who the Colts selected in the 5th round in this past draft. Although he has a little ways to go before he fully adapts to the NFL style of play— Fountain played his college ball in the FCS at Northern Iowa— it is time to call him up. He may be raw as a route runner and may be behind still mentally but his ability to catch in traffic and ability to go up and get balls is something the Colts really need right now.

Steve Ishmael is in the same boat but he’s a completely different player. Ishmael has very solid hands and is a decent underneath route runner, he just lacks the top end athleticism to consistently separate in the NFL. With Ryan Grant and Marcus Johnson potentially being out for a while, I see no reason why these two receivers shouldn’t be called up to the main roster this week. At the very least, the Colts can see what they have in these two players.

Ryan Nall, RB, Bears

The Colts have three solid young players at running back right now. Marlon Mack— if he can stay healthy— is a solid young back with good burst and athleticism. Nyheim Hines is a very good pass catcher who has carved out a nice role in the offense. Jordan Wilkins has been a bit underwhelming but has displayed some good vision and has potential to be a decent committee back. The last type of back that the Colts need to round out this young group is a power guy who can convert on short yardage. Enter the 6’2” 235 pound Ryan Nall.

Nall is a pure power back who was very effective in college for Oregon State. In the preseason, Nall impressed many evaluators with his hard running style and ability to fight through contact. Add in that Nall has the makeup to be a solid pass protector and special teams guy and you have a nice fourth addition to the running back committee. I’m all for adding Ryan Nall to this team.

Keith Ford, RB, Bills

Sticking with the running back position, let’s talk about Keith Ford filling that power running back role. As I mentioned above, the Colts need to make a move for a player to fill this role. The team hoped that Robert Turbin could fill that role but with injuries, age, and a steroid suspension this year, I think its time to cut ties with the ineffective veteran. They need some fresh legs like Ford to add a spark to the group.

Ford is a big (5’11” 220), powerful runner who actually measured as a well above average athlete at his pro day. After going undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ford really impressed the Bills’ coaching staff enough in the offseason to land on their practice squad. With excellent burst and acceleration along with being a strong bowling ball type runner, Ford would make for an excellent 4th running back on this roster.

Deontay Burnett, WR, Jets

What has been the number one issue with the Colts’ receivers this season? Drops, drops, drops. Andrew Luck and the Colts have suffered through 18 drops the past three weeks, most from receivers Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers. Although both have shown promise, it is hard to gain the trust of your quarterback when you are consistently dropping the ball. A player that should definitely be considered as an add to the roster is Deontay Burnett.

Burnett was excellent in the preseason this year after going undrafted out of USC. Burnett hauled in all 11 of his preseason targets and showed off solid hands and separation ability. Burnett also has the ability to play special teams which could give him an edge over a guy such as Zach Pascal. With his hands and ability to make plays, Burnett is an easy add to this roster in my opinion.

Damon Webb, S/CB, Titans

The Colts’ defensive backs are dropping like flies this season. After starting the year playing much better than expected, the Colts’ defensive backs have really fallen off in their play lately. With veteran leader Matthias Farley heading to IR and Clayton Geathers dealing with neck issues, the Colts would be wise to add another talented safety to this team. Free agent addition Mike Mitchell played well in his first game with the team but the team would be wise to add a backup free safety in the case of Malik Hooker going down.

Damon Webb was a personal favorite of mine in this past draft. The former Ohio State Buckeye was really impressive in his collegiate years and even played with Malik Hooker for two seasons. Webb went undrafted in this past draft due to some underwhelming athletic traits but he is a solid player. With a cornerback background along with possessing impressive ball skills and tackling ability, Webb would be a solid depth addition to the Colts’ secondary.

Jalen Myrick, CB, Vikings

The Colts’ cornerback group is very underwhelming from top to bottom. Quincy Wilson hasn’t quite developed the way the team has expected and currently Kenny Moore is the best corner on the roster. With players such as Arthur Maulet and Lenzy Pipkins getting shots on the roster and being less than spectacular, why not take a shot on a super athlete.

Jalen Myrick is most famously known for his insane 4.28 40 yards dash at the 2017 NFL Combine. An extremely gifted athlete, Myrick could be special with the right amount of coaching. He’s a very physical corner that just needs to refine the smaller parts of his game. With the Colts need of guys with upside at cornerback, I see no reason why they shouldn’t explore poaching Jalen Myrick from the Vikings.

Andrew Brown, DL, Bengals

The Colts’ defensive line took a major hit this past weekend when Margus Hunt and Denico Autry were unable to suit up against the Jets. Autry and Hunt have been two of the more impressive players on the Colts this season so losing those two was a big hit to the team. The Colts should focus on adding another young body up front who can rush the passer at least until they return/ until Tyquan Lewis is able to return from IR.

Andrew Brown was a player who really shined in Mobile at the Senior Bowl as he was disruptive the entire week down there. As a result, the defensive lineman was selected in the 5th round by the Bengals in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite not being the best athlete, Brown excels at shooting gaps and being disruptive that way. A lot of what the Colts ask their defensive lineman to do fits Brown’s strengths very well. I like the fit that Brown has with the Colts.