The Indianapolis Colts elected to take a pass at signing big-ticket free agents, instead electing to continue filling most holes through the draft. That should come as no surprise, but it does give a perception that building the roster to win may take a little longer.
With this being the start of Draft Month, yesterday we looked at the Colts’ biggest needs remaining. However, here, we will dive into the whole roster.
Quarterback: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Brad Kaaya, Phillip Walker
Running Back: Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin, Matt Jones, Christine Michael, Josh Ferguson, George Winn
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers, Krishawn Hogan, K.J. Brent, DeAndre Smelter, Rodney Adams, Justice Liggins, Kolby Listenbee, James Wright, Dres Anderson, Seantavius Jones
Tight End: Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope, Darrell Daniels, Ross Travis, Jason Vander Laan, Mo Alie-Cox
Offensive Tackle: Anthony Castonzo, Denzelle Good, Le’Raven Clark, Tyreek Burwell
Offensive Guard: Jack Mewhort, Matt Slauson, Joe Haeg, Jeremy Vujnovich, Mark Glowinski, Isaiah Williams
Center: Ryan Kelly, Deyshawn Bond, Anthony Fabiano
QB — Assuming Luck becomes fully entrenched at some point in offseason workouts and doesn’t suffer any setbacks, the Colts are in great shape at quarterback. Their backup is highly respected and has started a season’s worth of games. Their QB3 is a second-year sixth-round pick. Their QB4 was a four-year starter in college, has a year of practice squad experience and is able to be used to imitate opposing mobile quarterbacks in practice. All that said, the Colts are still screwed if anything happens to both Luck and Brissett.
RB — I’ll be honest; I have no idea what’s going to happen at running back in the next month. The Colts’ top four running backs are all legitimate NFL backs in some form or fashion. They could draft Saquon Barkley at No. 6 if he is there, in which he would become the obvious lead back and slide everyone else down. The Colts could draft another player who is capable of being an RB1, or they could wait and draft someone later who is more of a complement to Mack and the other members of the backfield.
WR — I expect there to be pretty significant turnover at receiver by the time the season rolls around. Among the Colts’ interest in NFL Draft prospects that has been publicized, wide receiver is far and away the most prevalent position. I’m comfortable putting all three of Hilton, Grant and Rogers on the 53-man roster, but the rest is a crapshoot. There are a few lesser-known players in this receiver corps that have some potential, so I expect this to be a very entertaining, competitive group to watch in training camp.
TE — There’s a lot of youth and potential waiting to be tapped at tight end, but this is one of the strengths of the entire team. Doyle is an established starter who moves the chains, and Ebron and Swoope are more athletic players who can stretch a defense. Daniels played well at H-back as a rookie last year, and former basketball players Travis and Alie-Cox will look to put their athleticism on display as well.
OL — The Colts brought back Mewhort and signed Slauson, addressing the guard positions. However, neither is a sure bet due to a mix of age and injury concerns. Right tackle also isn’t a slam dunk either, although Good could be a decent player if he stays healthy himself. I would expect the Colts add at least one more of each at guard and tackle before the offseason is through.
Defensive End: Jabaal Sheard, Tarell Basham, Denico Autry, Arthur Miley, Johnathan Calvin
Defensive Tackle: Henry Anderson, Al Woods, Margus Hunt, Hassan Ridgeway, Grover Stewart, Joey Mbu, Caraun Reid, Anthony Johnson
Off-ball Linebacker: John Simon, Anthony Walker, Antonio Morrison, Jeremiah George, Tyrell Adams, Darnell Sankey, Jermaine Grace, Josh Perry
Cornerback: Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston, Kenny Moore, D.J. White, Chris Hilton
Safety: Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Matthias Farley, T.J. Green, Ronald Martin
ED — This group definitely needs help. Sheard is the only one you can have confidence in starting at this point, but even he doesn’t put up big sack numbers. Basham could make a second-year jump after showing progress late last season, especially considering he’ll be going back to his home position in a three-point stance. Autry was a decent free-agent pickup, but even he still has a lot to prove, as he could receive the most significant playing time of his career moving forward. We also don’t know what the plan is opposite of Sheard. We could see any of Basham, Autry or Anderson starting at the other defensive end spot.
DL — Like end, we don’t know exactly what the coaches are thinking at defensive tackle. Woods is likely one starter. With Johnathan Hankins being cut, I imagine Anderson will start next to Woods. However, if Anderson starts at end, then it could be Ridgeway or Stewart starting next to Woods at tackle. What this group could really use is a quick, athletic three-technique from the draft.
LB — I think the depth of this group will look similar to last season, but at the top, the off-ball linebackers will look much different. Out are Jon Bostic and probably Morrison (at least as a starter). It makes sense for Simon to move from 3-4 outside linebacker to strong side outside linebacker in this 4-3. Walker stands a good chance at starting at either WILL or MIKE. However, the Colts should bring in two more guys who are capable of starting. Some of the depth guys they have now are potential options, but they need better options.
CB — We didn’t get to see much of White and Milton on defense last year, but when we did, it was a bad time. Because of that, it would be a good idea to add a couple more quality bodies to the group. Wilson is expected to take over the Vontae Davis role, but is the plan for Desir and Moore to duke it out to start on the other side? With how much Chris Ballard likes defensive backs, I would imagine more competition is going to be added near the top.
S — This is an interesting group, but one that I feel best about from a talent level. If Hooker and Geathers are your starters all year with Farley and Green behind them, then they’re in great shape. However, nobody should feel confident in Hooker and Geathers’ durability yet. Because of that, we could see another quality player added.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Placekicker: Adam Vinatieri
Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez
Long Snapper: Luke Rhodes
Holder: Rigoberto Sanchez
Kickoff Specialist: Rigoberto Sanchez
Kickoff Returner: Rodney Adams
Punt Returner: Chester Rogers
New special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone got a good special teams group when he signed in Indianapolis. Vinatieri is still as steady as they come even in his mid-40’s, Sanchez already looked like one of the league’s better punters as a rookie in 2017, and Rhodes is back for another year as the long snapper. Something I’m interested in watching is the return game and how that will affect roster spots. Adams was an excellent kickoff returner in college, so could he wrap up a roster spot primarily for that purpose?