One of the most improved parts of the Indianapolis Colts offensive line is the depth that is now evident throughout the unit. I feel like we can safely say that the starters should be a significant upgrade to what that group looked like a year ago as well.
Both of these revelations could very well play major parts in writing the story of the 2018 Colts. From left to right, it looks like the Colts will be lining up; Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Matt Slauson and Austin Howard. This, of course, is if OTAs and minicamp were any indication at all.
As for the depth behind those projected starters the Colts have La’Raven Clark, Joe Haeg, Denzel Good, Deyshaun Bond and Jack Mewhort — all who have started several games at one time or another for the Colts over the past few seasons. And that’s leaving out rookie Braden Smith who was one of the most athletic linemen prospects of the draft class.
Of course there are more who are currently on the roster and will be vying for their chance to oust one of these guys, but that’s a very good second wave of talent backing up the first team right now. None have been particularly consistent over time, but Bond played very well at center last year while Kelly was out. Good, Clark, Mewhort and Haeg have all shown to be capable linemen at times as well.
It’s not just me, or maybe even you who feels this group could not only better, but much better this season. Pro Football Focus is digging the Colts’ offseason acquisitions as well.
There are a lot of unknowns for the Colts up front, but for the first time in a long time, at least there’s hope. Quenton Nelson plugs in immediately at left guard and all signs in his college evaluation point to him being a quality, if not Pro-Bowl level starter immediately.
Naturally, Nelson is the big-ticket addition for the line and he’s going to make a major difference on his own. Him being pinched in between Castonzo and Kelly makes Andrew Luck’s blind side a much safer place at the jump.
PFF also goes on to mention Mewhort and Kelly to be ‘wildcards’ for the group with their injury history battling their potential.
The wildcards here are former high draft picks Ryan Kelly and Jack Mewhort. Mewhort looked well on his way to becoming one of the best guards in football before injuries struck and he was limited to only 979 snaps over the past two seasons. Kelly was solid as a rookie, but he too battled injuries this past year and floundered to a 39.9 overall grade.
I agree with their thoughts on Mewhort for the most part, but I think that may be a bit high praise for Mewhort’s past. I don’t understand Kelly’s drop on their grading scale, nor am I going to attempt to. Kelly was injured, and didn’t play as well as he did in his rookie campaign, but I don’t understand that steep of a drop in his overall grade. That’s just me, though.
Additionally, they mention how Smith adds some depth as the Colts’ lines have been quite injury prone over the past several years in a row, but I think there’s much more to the second unit than just Smith. Having Heag as one of the group’s utility man and Good as a versatile piece for depth — along with either Slauson or Mewhort — is as good a spot the Colts have been in looking to protect Andrew Luck.
PFF had the Colts rated at No. 25 at the end of the 2017 season, and now they have them sitting at 17th heading into 2018. So, to answer your question, yes, for the Colts this is showing them some love. Middle of the pack? Not sitting in the 30s? Yeah, that’s some praise for a unit that has rarely gotten any, and probably deserved even less since 2012.
Quite honestly, if the Colts line can maintain a middle-of-the-pack performance throughout the season, the team will find much more success than most would expect.