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2018 Colts Position Review: Defensive Line

Sneaky good, with the change to a 4-3 scheme, the Colts defensive line managed to put up a solid season.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Starters: Denico Autry, Margus Hunt, Tyquan Lewis, Jabaal Sheard

Bench: Kemoko Turay, Geneo Grissom, Grover Stewart, Al Woods, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Hassan Ridgeway

This unit may not stand out but they compiled good season. Sure, the need for a true pass-rusher is still evident, as the Colts ranked 19th in sacks, but there is some talent on the defensive line.

Free agent acquisition Denico Autry was stellar in his first season as a Colt. After signing a 3 year, $17 million dollar deal, Autry posted a team high 9 sacks, to go along with 13 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He also showed some very valuable versatility, being able to start either at defensive tackle or on the edge.

Jabaal Sheard was once again average, getting to the quarterback 5.5 times for the second season in a row, and recording 13 tackles for loss. Sheard’s best quality is that he is capable of rushing the passer as well as stopping the run.

Next is Margus Hunt. After starting the season scorching hot, Hunt cooled off considerably, finishing the season with 5 sacks and just 6 QB hits. He will most likely be a depth piece next season and a great special teams player, as his absurd height (6’8’’) makes him a threat to block field goals.

Rookies Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay showed promise and will continue to develop, but they are still raw, especially Turay, and will need more time to reach their respective primes. Right now, they are better utilized as rotational pass-rushers.

The depth on the defensive line was lacking. The Colts had players that were one-dimensional like Al Woods or Grover Stewart and Al-Quadin Muhammad and Hassan Ridgeway were either playing lights out or getting completely shut down.

The offseason will be key for improving the defensive line, with premium free agents at the position hitting the market and this draft class being loaded defensively. The Colts have to throw big bucks at a guy like Demarcus Lawrence or Trey Flowers, as they would immediately improve all other players around them. A guy like Ndamukong Suh would also help bring a veteran presence along with a certain nasty way to play the game that the Colts kind of needed rushing the passer. (Just imagine Nelson going against Suh in practice).

The Colts also have to add some talent in the Draft, as this position group was what held the Colts defense from becoming top 10 or even top 5.

Overall, with some key additions in either Free Agency or the Draft and some development from the youngsters, the Colts should be able to improve the defensive line considerably.