With the end of the NFL Draft and Rookie Minicamp thoughts are heading towards OTA’s, Training Camp, Preseason and the eventual roster cut down. Even though there is still some way to go until roster cut downs it is never too early to look what might happen especially after the draft and rookie mini camp is over now.
Trades, surprise cuts, injury designations and even late free agent signings will change the finished product, as we are still a way away from final roster cut downs, but here is my early prediction of the Indianapolis Colts 53-man roster for the 2019 NFL season.
Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett
Probably the easiest projection in the entire Colts 53 man roster. Luck is the starter and Brissett is the back up. It’s very straight forward. The only slight curve-ball in this is, from out of nowhere, someone trades for Brissett. That seems extremely unlikely, especially after the draft.
Notable cuts: Phillip Walker
Running backs (4)
Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and Spencer Ware
Again another seemingly straight forward projection. Mack is the starter, Hines the gadget back, Wilkins and Ware will fight it out for the right to first touches after Mack tires, but otherwise this group is set.
Notable cuts: Jonathan Williams
Wide Receiver (5)
TY Hilton, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain
The top of this group is almost set in stone for the 2019 season. Hilton is WR1, Funchess is the current WR2 after being signed in the off-season, Campbell is a second round pick who the coaches are gushing over. After those three, it gets interesting: Deon Cain was last year's training camp standout before he tore his ACL in a preseason game. Depending on his injury status, he either makes the final 53 man roster or could be a PUP candidate. Either way, it looks like the fourth spot is his at this stage. The final spot is in the air and makes for a tasty battle at training camp. There are a few names that will fight for it, but ultimately, I think Daurice Fountain wins the job.
Notable cuts: Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson and Penny Hart.
Tight Ends (4)
Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Allie-Cox and Ross Travis
The starters are clear in the tight end group, and are arguably the best tight end duo in the league, so it’s a given Doyle and Ebron make the roster. The rest of the group is dependent on how many tight ends the team decides to keep. Last year the Colts elected to keep four so I will stick to four in my projection. Frank Reich loves using tight ends, so keeping four again seems right. Both Allie-Cox and Travis provide big-bodied targets who can catch and block.
Notable cuts: Hale Hentges
Offensive Line (9)
Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Le’Raven Clark, Javon Patterson and Jackson Barton.
The Colts starting offensive line was finally solidified last season and will provide some continuity at the position bringing back the same starting five back again. Castonzo, Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski and Smith are the starters. Haeg is the swing tackle/guard and Clark provides depth behind the left tackle. Patterson and Barton, drafted this year, provide depth along the line.
Notable cuts: J’Marcus Webb and Evan Boehm.
Defensive Line (9)
Jabaal Sheard, Denico Autry, Margus Hunt, Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Jihad Ward, Grover Stewart and Gerri Green.
The Colts bring back their starting defensive line from last year, sans Al Woods, who was replaced by Hunt after injury. Sheard, Autry, Hunt and free agent addition Houston are the likely starters, Turay and Lewis provide depth, and are starters in a pinch. Stewart is the only big-bodied nose tackle on the roster and Ward was a huge surprise after being signed last year before hit by injury.
Notable cuts: Al-Quadin Muhammad and Carroll Phillips.
Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Ben Banogu, Matthew Adams, Bobby Okereke and EJ Speed.
DROY Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker are your starters at WILL and MIKE linebacker, with SAM linebacker a bit up in the air. Adams was the eventual starter last season and played well, but after drafting Banogu to play a hybrid SAM linebacker/defensive end role, Banogu could end up being the starter. Draft picks Okereke and Speed round out a much deeper group this year.
Notable cuts: Skai Moore and Zaire Franklin.
Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston, Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell.
This group has been transformed from a perceived weakness at the start of last year to a solid, deep group. Desir and Moore are the starters, with quality depth in Wilson, and this years highest draft pick Ya-Sin. Draft pick Tell makes the successful transition from safety to cornerback, and Hairston’s ability to play nickel and boundary corner along with special teams play wins him the final spot in a crowded cornerback group.
Notable cuts: Chris Milton and Jalen Collins
Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Matthias Farley, Khari Willis and George Odum.
Hooker and Geathers are the starters, Farley and Willis are quality depth who can both start in a pinch if needed. Odum is a special teamer with depth upside. Pretty straight forward group here.
Notable cuts: Derrick Kindred
Adam Vinatieri, Rigoberto Sanchez and Luke Rhodes.
GOAT Kicker in Vinatieri, good young punter in Sanchez and solid long snapper in Rhodes, enough said.
Notable cuts: None
Depth Chart Projection:
QB - Luck Brissett
RB - Mack Hines Wilkins Ware
WR - Hilton Funchess Campbell Cain Fountain
TE - Doyle Ebron Cox Travis
OT - Castonzo Smith Clark Barton
OG - Nelson Glowinski Haeg
C - Kelly Patterson
DE - Sheard Green
NT - Hunt Stewart
UT - Autry Lewis Ward
DE - Houston Turay
WLB - Leonard Speed
MLB - Walker Okereke
SLB - Banogu Adams
CB - Desir Wilson Ya-Sin Tell
NCB - Moore Hairston
FS - Hooker Farley Odum
SS - Geathers Willis
K - Vinatieri
P - Sanchez
LS - Rhodes