Sheard was the ninth-ranked edge defender among 15 in this year’s list. He ranked behind Cameron Jordan (6), Calais Campbell (9), Von Miller (10), DeMarcus Lawrence (12), Melvin Ingram (24), Brandon Graham (27), Joey Bosa (28) and Khalil Mack (31). That’s a pretty great group in which to be included.
As PFF mentioned, Sheard stood out in a down year overall for the Colts defense. Without his 4.2 quarterback pressures per game, their pass rush would’ve been non-existent. He only had 5.5 actual sacks on the year, but pressure can make things almost as chaotic for an opposing passing game. Overall, Sheard also had 52 tackles (4 for loss), 2 forced fumbles and 3 pass breakups.
The Colts signed Sheard as a free agent last offseason while trying to find young, yet experienced players to add to the front seven. You could say that Sheard exceeded expectations. Although he didn’t post double-digit sacks, he provided consistent pressure and was as durable as ever. He played in all 16 games, which reflects his career durability. He’s only missed seven games in seven seasons.
In 2018, we’ll see if Sheard’s production changes at all. The Colts are moving to a 4-3 defense under coordinator Matt Eberflus from their former 3-4 hybrid under Chuck Pagano. Sheard is expected to take a role as a defensive end rather than outside linebacker, where he played in 2017. Sheard has plenty of experience with his hand in the dirt throughout his seven-year career, though. He will likely remain the top pass-rushing option as the Colts usher in and groom some younger players in 2018.
Sheard was the only Colts player to make the top 101. PFF also released a list of the 10 players who just missed the cut. There were no Colts on that list.