Something that we’ve had drilled into our heads since Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard has been in the big chair, is that his main focus — at all times — is to create the most competition possible. His approach has been to bring in talent who can push the roster into becoming better from one end of the calendar to the other.
As Frank Reich was hired, some of his coaching staff had already been put into place, but that hasn’t in any way altered the expectations for anyone. Reich has been on the same page since Day 1, and those working for him have fallen in line seamlessly to Ballard’s vision.
Every GM who has ever lived wants their draft picks to pan out, and excel, once they get into the team meetings, learning the playbook and getting the talent on the field to execute what they’ve learned. The other side of that coin, then, leads to the coaching staff learning what they need to about each and every player present.
As much as they want those draft selections to prove they deserved to be drafted, this point in the offseason program is designed specifically to find the talent at all costs. As many have before them, the undrafted signings and tryout players are given the same opportunity to earn those spots regardless of status.
The Colts have had an undrafted player earn a spot on the roster annually for nearly twenty years running. And from what we’re hearing to this point, there appears to be a very good chance of it continuing for the 2018 season.
We’ve seen some excitement building for Skai Moore, who was initially pegged as a WILL option in the linebacking core, but has reportedly been getting some time as the MIKE in the Colts rookie camp practices. This has been what stood out most about Moore as he hauled in 14 interceptions over the course of his collegiate career.
And that’s what this chunk of time is being used for, to find out which of these guys can legitimately earn a role in training camp this summer, and then maybe even a spot on the roster come September.
Reich is letting each of the rookies know that if they earn it, they’ll be on the field.
“There are those tiers, but the great thing about this camp is everybody gets plenty of reps and we get a good look at everybody. It’s a great way to do it, it’s a great opportunity for the tryout guys, especially. There have been instances where those guys make it and they’re certainly on the list. We make it competitive, we try to give everybody a fair shot and you earn it out on the field.”
But, this isn’t something that Ballard has had to instill in Reich. Although, them having the same vision, and process, has likely assisted in the approach running down hill to the rest of the staff. Reich even points to a moment in which his former coach Bill Parcels voiced something similar.
“I mean I remember as a player one time, Bill Parcells was my coach just for a very short time and him making the statement, this isn’t an exact quote, but something to the effect of, ‘I’m the most selfish head coach you’ll ever play for because I’m always going to play the best 11 players. I don’t care what round, how much money,’ so on and so forth. And I think that’s obvious, but that’s really what it’s all about. You’ve got to prove it in the meeting room and out on the field and if guys get enough opportunities, it works itself out.”
With the amount of holes this team has going into the 2018 season, and the presumed upside to some of the talent picked up post-draft, these players are going to get a real shot at sticking.
Some of the more interesting talent in their grasp is the aforementioned Moore, and William Ossai on a depleted linebacking core with a healthy amount of questions surrounding the carryover players at the position. Also, receiver Steve Ishmael is being thrust into a competition with very few already-established roles and a wide open competition expected in training camp this summer.
This isn’t necessarily anything ground-breaking with any team, when a talent pops they get what they deserve by continuing their road to making an NFL roster. However, given the Colts long history and the current brain trust’s approach to building the roster, each player in camp will step in between those lines knowing that they have as much of a chance to impress as anyone else present.
Quality depth is imperative at this stage in building a respectable roster, and the vision is shared by all involved which — despite a lack of expectations surrounding the Colts in 2018 — will create the perfect environment for development in hopes of building a future contender in Indianapolis.