We are two months removed from the start of the NFL free agency frenzy, and nearly a month from the end of the 2018 NFL Draft. However, as Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard always says, “Talent acquisition is a 365-day-per-year job.”
With that said, although the pool is greatly diminished by this point in the offseason, there is still some talent out there to be had on the open market. Here are some of the best players available at positions in which the Colts could be interested. Keep in mind, just because a player is listed doesn’t mean the Colts should look at them, but they are options.
Adrian Peterson, DeMarco Murray, Terrance West, Orleans Darkwa
If you put the Colts current running back group together, you get a complete, capable run game. Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Christine Michael (long shot, I know) all have good size and potential as starters, Robert Turbin specializes in short-yardage situations and pass protection, and Nyheim Hines and Josh Ferguson are above-average pass catchers who can move around the formation.
To me, the Colts have a good blend of players and should leave the position alone so that they can see if any of their young studs — Mack, Wilkins and Hines — rises to the top. However, if they do continue looking, there are some proven players out there. They’ve already hosted Terrance West for a visit, and Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray are both former NFL rushing champs. Orleans Darkwa is a decent runner between the tackles.
Dez Bryant, Jeremy Maclin, Dontrelle Inman, Michael Floyd
Like running back, the wide receiver group should be left alone for a bit. T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Grant are proven pass-catchers while Chester Rogers could have a breakout campaign in 2018. Rookies Reece Fountain, Deon Cain and Steve Ishmael also offer enough intrigue to see what they’ve got. Even Krishawn Hogan and K.J. Brent offer upside.
Dez Bryant is still looking for a home, but it doesn’t make much sense for it to be Indianapolis. He hasn’t been able to get separation in quite some time now, and he only offers upside as a possession receiver — perhaps out of the slot — as well as a guy who can high-point the ball in the end zone. The Colts were interested in Dontrelle Inman earlier this offseason. If Jeremy Maclin has any tread left on the tires and is healthy, he’s been a very reliable player before. Michael Floyd appears to be on his last round of opportunities, but offers size and athleticism.
Robert Ayers, Ryan Russell
The theme here is that the Colts have done a nice job of picking up promising, young talent at positions of need this offseason. Pass rushers have been a priority for several years now, but they finally have a potentially high-quality group if expectations are met. Jabaal Sheard and John Simon are capable of consistently harassing quarterbacks (Sheard was actually Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best edge defender last year), and Tarell Basham, Kemoko Turay and Chris McCain have plenty of potential and are being coached-up by Robert Mathis. Tyquan Lewis and Denico Autry are also both capable of moving inside and out.
Regardless, you can never have too many pass rushers. Robert Ayers has had some hot streaks during his career, and Ryan Russell could be brought in for depth.
Quinton Dial, Datone Jones
Defensive tackle may be the most questionable position group on the Colts in terms of who will start. Space eaters are no longer the preference, now leaning toward faster, more athletic guys who can get into the backfield. Al Woods and Rakeem Nunez-Roches have starting experience. Hassan Ridgeway and Grover Stewart are both promising players. Autry and Lewis, again, will probably move around a bit. Margus Hunt played well as a reserve last year but doesn’t necessarily fit into this new scheme defensively.
Quinton Dial would be more of a nose tackle for the Colts like Woods or Stewart, while Datone Jones fits best with what they are going for athletically as a three-technique.
*Correction: I had previously listed Jay Bromley on here, but he signed with the New Orleans Saints on May 14.
Mychal Kendricks, NaVorro Bowman, Gerald Hodges
Linebacker is one of the most overhauled positions for the Colts this offseason after switching to a 4-3 base from the 3-4. What was considered passable in the previous scheme will be rather unacceptable in this new one for the most part. The majority of the linebackers they have fit the new scheme, it’s just figuring out who goes where. Najee Goode, Anthony Walker and Skai Moore should compete to start at MIKE, while Walker also competes with Antonio Morrison and Matthew Adams at SAM. Darius Leonard should be able to take care of the WILL spot.
Mychal Kendricks would be able to sign and be plugged-in as a starter right away, likely at SAM. He is an athletic player who has been productive before and has quite a bit of starting experience. NaVorro Bowman is out there, but I would only go for that if he was an injury replacement and the other in-house replacements looked subpar. Gerald Hodges could provide quality depth and a special teams presence.
Bashaud Breeland, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kayvon Webster
This is a group that could use another starting-caliber player. Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore all started at boundary corner at some point in 2017 and all looked good, but Wilson appears to be the only one that the Colts are really hitching their wagon to.
Bashaud Breeland visited the Colts last week, and the they are said to be his most likely landing spot. Like Wilson, he has decent size, can get physical and does well in zone coverage. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a proven ballhawk who will apparently not sign anywhere until training camp. Kayvon Webster started all 11 games he appeared in with the Los Angeles Rams last year, but his season ended due to a ruptured Achilles.
Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, T.J. Ward, Tyvon Branch
The Colts have done their due diligence by hosting Kenny Vaccaro and Tre Boston on visits, but they appear to be satisfied with their current group of safeties. Malik Hooker may not be on the field to start the season due to rehab from an ACL injury, but is an unquestioned starter once he gets healthy. Likewise, Clayton Geathers should have a pretty good grasp on the starting strong safety role. Matthias Farley and T.J. Green both have respect from the organization and would be slotted into duty in case of injury.
Free agents T.J. Ward and Tyvon Branch could both be potential starters in the event Hooker or Geathers misses time. Eric Reid is the best of the free agent safeties, but he appears to be getting black-balled by the league like his former teammate Colin Kaepernick.
Colts Non-Futures/UDFA Deals Signed This Offseason
*Re-signings in italics
- RB — Christine Michael
- WR — Ryan Grant, Kasen Williams
- TE — Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope
- OL — Austin Howard, Jack Mewhort, Matt Slauson, Jeremy Vujnovich
- DL — Denico Autry, Chris McCain, Rakeem Nunez-Roches
- LB — Najee Goode, Tyrell Adams
- CB — Pierre Desir, Chris Milton
- K — Adam Vinatieri
- LS — Luke Rhodes