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The Curious Case of the Colts’ Cornerback Position

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Colts need to draft a cornerback early in the NFL Draft? Are they necessarily set at the position? Are they set, but should they still draft a cornerback? Maybe they’re not set, but still shouldn’t draft a cornerback early considering the other needs.

The cornerback position is a confusing one for the Colts right now.

There are three questions that need to be answered, and those answers should help us with the questions listed above. Those three questions are:

  • Do the Colts feel comfortable with Pierre Desir as a #1 cornerback moving forward?
  • Is Quincy Wilson going to be a legitimate #2 cornerback in 2019-2020?
  • Do the Colts have enough depth at the position?

Is Pierre Desir the #1 cornerback of the future?

When the Colts signed Pierre Desir in the offseason to a 3 year, 22.5M dollar deal, it might’ve seemed like they have locked up their #1 cornerback for the next three years. In reality, the Colts can save cap space if they decide to release him after this season. He essentially signed a one year deal with a 2nd and 3rd year team option. Desir had a fantastic 2018 season, and while he’s locked in as a starter and probable #1 cornerback for 2019, his future with the Colts is still up in the air. A bad season and he could be wearing different colours in 2020.

Is Quincy Wilson going to be a legitimate #2 cornerback?

This, to me, is the biggest question heading into the draft. The 22, to-be 23 year old is still in the baby steps of his career. While his career has been marred with inconsistency, he finished last season strong and ended the year as the 39th best cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. In the last 10 games of the season, quarterbacks targeting him had a 65.4 passer rating and when targeted 10 or more yards down the field, he allowed just a 9.3 passer rating.

Is this just a good stretch of football or will his 3rd season in the NFL be marred by inconsistency again? The #2 cornerback position gets a lot of attention in the NFL and is often targeted by opposing offenses for match-up purposes. Due to his young age and his stellar play in the second half of last season, the Colts should ride with him as a starting cornerback heading into the 2019 season, but he has yet to prove that he’s the longterm answer at cornerback.

Do the Colts have enough depth at the position?

If you consider the three starting cornerbacks to be Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore (as the nickel), then that means that the following 4 players would be considered the current backups:

  • Nate Hairston
  • Jalen Collins
  • Chris Milton
  • DJ Killings

None of those players screams confidence if they were thrust into a starting role. All 4 players are 26 years old or younger, so they lack NFL experience and none of their ceilings are very high. Considering those negatives, I would say the Colts need to bolster up their depth, considering depth is crucial at cornerback, perhaps more than any other position in the NFL.

To recap, Pierre Desir is not locked in as a longterm starter, Quincy Wilson has a lot of question marks surrounding his play and his consistency and the depth is thin at cornerback. Based on the answers to those three questions, the Colts should strongly consider taking a cornerback (if the right situation arises in terms of the “Best Player Available” strategy that Ballard seems to follow) with one of their first 4 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

If the Colts were to follow the cornerback rankings in our Draft Guide, then the following 10 players would be worth a long look in the first few rounds:

  • Amani Oruwariye — Penn State
  • Greedy Williams — LSU
  • Byron Murphy — Washington
  • Deandre Baker — Georgia
  • Justin Layne — Michigan State
  • Rock Ya-Sin — Temple
  • Joejuan Williams — Vanderbilt
  • Julian Love — Stanford
  • Michael Jackson — Miami
  • David Long — West Virginia

Most fit the Colts’ defensive Cover 2-based scheme and could have immediate impacts in the short term and the long term. Don’t be surprised if the Colts take a cornerback with one of their first two picks.