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Colts Offseason Needs: Post-Free Agency Rush

What do the Colts need most on the roster before we hit the draft?

Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It is officially 2018 NFL Draft month. With the big free agency waves of the league’s new year passed, we can focus on what needs the Indianapolis Colts can still address with their upcoming drafts picks as well as the remaining free agents.

The Colts were pretty quiet during the free agency rush, but they did actually sign 13 players (including eight of their own free agents). Considering the positional and monetary value of many players, the Colts didn’t make many splash signings. Instead, they acquired more draft picks in a trade with the New York Jets, and now they look ahead to the end of April. The Colts’ needs haven’t changed much since last time we did this.

1. Edge Pass Rusher

Under Contract in 2018: Jabaal Sheard, Tarell Basham, Denico Autry, Arthur Miley, Johnathan Calvin

2018 free agents: Barkevious Mingo (Seahawks)

Autry was a nice addition, but there’s a decent likelihood that he’ll be moving around the line situationally, and he’s not a premium player to begin with. Basham is a better fit in the new 4-3 defense, so we may see him take a sophomore jump in 2018. However, he didn’t show enough as a rookie to warrant confidence in the position. Sheard was one of the best in the league at pressuring the quarterback, but it only resulted in 5.5 sacks.

The Colts need another player or two with 10-sack-per-year potential if their defense is going to become above-average. Free agency only has role players available, but the draft has some potentially prime players.

Some remaining players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Kony Ealy, Benson Mayowa

Some players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Bradley Chubb, Harold Landry, Marcus Davenport, Arden Key, Sam Hubbard, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Josh Sweat, Lorenzo Carter, Dorance Armstrong, Chad Thomas

2. Offensive Line (OG/RT)

Under Contract in 2018:

  • LT — Anthony Castonzo, Tyreek Burwell
  • LG — Matt Slauson, Jeremy Vujnovich, Isaiah Williams
  • C — Ryan Kelly, Deyshawn Bond, Anthony Fabiano
  • RG — Jack Mewhort, Joe Haeg, Mark Glowinski
  • RT — Denzelle Good, Le’Raven Clark

Colts 2018 free agents: Jack Mewhort (re-signed), Jeremy Vujnovich (ERFA tender), Mike Person (UFA)

I’ve got two trains of thought in regards to the Colts’ offensive line. First, new offensive-minded head coach Frank Reich knows that the Colts will take less pressure, hits and sacks on the quarterback as long as the ball gets out quicker. He will scheme up pass routes and quarterback drops to make sure this happens if the line isn’t up to snuff. For example, Peyton Manning had some pretty middling linemen that looked better than they were because he always got the ball out as quickly as the situation called for.

While the Colts could field a starting offensive line if the season started tomorrow, they should definitely add more competition, primarily at guard and right tackle. There is no reason to worry about left tackle (Castonzo) and center (Kelly). Slauson, Bond, Mewhort, Haeg, Good and Clark have all proven to be capable starters at one point. However, what they lack is consistency. The Colts can continue looking for depth and competition both in free agency and the draft.

Some remaining players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Luke Joeckel, Greg Robinson, Chris Clark, Mike Person, Michael Ola

Some players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, Isaiah Wynn, Billy Price, James Daniels, Will Hernandez, Orlando Brown Jr., Tyrell Crosby, Brian O’Neill, Chukwuma Okorafor, Frank Ragnow, Kolton Miller, Jamarco Jones, Mason Cole, Braden Smith, Desmond Harrison, Martinas Rankin, Austin Corbett

3. Linebacker (MIKE/WILL)

Under Contract in 2018: John Simon, Anthony Walker, Antonio Morrison, Jeremiah George, Darnell Sankey, Jermaine Grace, Tyrell Adams, Josh Perry

Colts 2018 free agents: Jon Bostic (Steelers)

This group will look much different than it did within the last couple of years. General manager Chris Ballard has already spent the last year or so adding linebackers that fit this scheme rather than Chuck Pagano’s. However, this group needs upgraded at the top and rounded out before the season starts.

Walker has a good shot at a starting spot, as does Simon. Morrison is not near rangy enough to be the MIKE or WILL, so the Colts need at least one starting-level player as well as a few others who can compete to start. George, Sankey, Grace, Adams and Perry all have their upside and could make a push in training camp, but the Colts must add more sure talent to this group. Having watched almost 20 off-ball linebackers in this draft, I can tell you this is a pretty good group the Colts can choose from.

Some remaining players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Kevin Minter, Korey Toomer, Akeem Ayers, Will Compton, Gerald Hodges, Jelani Jenkins, Kemal Ishmael

Some players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Rashaan Evans, Leighton Vander Esch, Darius Leonard, Malik Jefferson, Shaquem Griffin, Skai Moore, Fred Warner, Jerome Baker

Others needs to keep an eye on: Cornerback, Wide Receiver