With cutdowns in sight, we’re going to take a look at each position group and rank them from the best to the worst. First up is the Colts defense. Young and inexperienced, this group could struggle mightily, and could hamstring the team if they aren’t able to score early and often. This defense also has the potential to exceed expectations by developing ahead of schedule or having an unknown player break out. Let’s take a look at them.
The Colts have a solid group of safeties. Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers together in the backfield could be a truly great pairing provided they can both stay healthy. If they cannot however, Mathias Farley has proven himself to be a reliable backup.
Farley has developed after spending time as an above average starter in Geather’s and then Hooker’s absence. T.J. Green has been the butt of many jokes, but if a new scheme and better coaching can bring him along, he has all the skills to be a big contributor on defense.
The defensive line doesn’t have obvious stars, but what they do have is a whole host of quality players. The talent level from top to bottom doesn’t suffer from a huge gap, and in this case that might make them a pretty good group.
While the team could certainly use a Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis, they will be able to be moderately successful if they can get regular, if not astounding production from their linemen.
Jabaal Sheard will likely be their most productive rusher once the season gets underway. John Simon and Hassan Ridgeway have been preseason darlings, but if they can continue their play into the regular season, this team could be a much more competitive defense than what many expect.
The cornerbacks are a worrisome spot on this roster. Quincy Wilson was supposed to be the next starting corner, and yet he struggles in practice with regularity and can go long stretches where he seems ineffective and overmatched. To be fair to him, he also has made some good plays and has flashes at times where he seems to have all the tools of a starting CB1.
Kenny Moore has been a pleasant surprise after being signed as an undrafted free agent for the Colts last season. He likely gets the majority of his looks out of the slot corner spot, where he can put his good instincts to use.
Pierre Desir looks like a reliable enough starter, but certainly isn’t a player who the Colts can or should build around. He makes some plays as needed, and doesn’t make glaring mistakes, which makes him a valuable contributor, if not a long term solution.
Then there is Nate Hairston. Hairston looks like a good depth player and did well in the slot, but has been inconsistent as well in the offseason so far. Beyond these four the depth is poor and none of these players are costing a quarterback much sleep unless they really have a breakout year.
The linebacker position is definitely the shakiest on the defense for this Colts team. If my depth chart ends up being correct, 5 of 6 players in this linebacker group will have 1 year or less of playing experience at the NFL level. That is pretty insane!
A group that is so raw and unproven is a scary thing. Young players make mistakes. They have to learn and grow, and often that comes with some pains. In a new scheme with new players surrounding them and a new level of play facing them as they transition to the NFL, this will be a group that will likely at times be very frustrating to watch.
On the up side, there is some potential among many of these players, and a group that is so full of young and talented players is one that could develop into a powerhouse with the right coaching and some luck. For now though, it is a group that is likely to struggle, although it will be a much more exciting group to watch than in some past seasons.