4. Ballard’s New Draft Class
In April of 2018, the Indianapolis Colts had one of their best drafts since 1998 (when they acquired the greatest quarterback of all time). Led by General Manager Chris Ballard, the Colts added significant talent to both sides of the ball and ended the season with a wild card playoff win sitting at the top of the AFC South. The 2019 NFL Draft brought in a whole new batch of young blood to add to the Colts’ already impressive roster. The 2019 Draft Class is as follows:
Round 2, Pick 34: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
Round 2, Pick 49: Ben Banogu, LB, TCU
Round 2, Pick 59: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 89: Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford
Round 4, Pick 109: Khari Willis, S, Michigan State
Round 5, Pick 144: Marvell Tell III, CB, USC
Round 5, Pick 164: E.J. Speed, LB, Tarleton State
Round 6, Pick 199: Gerri Green, DE, Mississippi State
Round 7, Pick 240: Jackson Barton, OT, Utah
Round 7, Pick 246: Javon Patterson, C, Ole Miss
It’s evident that Ballard was cerebral in the way he chose each player. Impressively enough, the Colts seemed to target every need in this year’s draft and picked up some of the NCAA’s best commodities. One of the best parts of last season was watching the rookies thrive under the phenomenal coaching of Frank Reich, and I think this season will be no different.
3. Improved Pass Rush
Ballard has done a great job this season addressing the team’s needs, whether it be in the Draft or in Free Agency. With the recent addition of former Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston, the Colts’ pass rush is looking like it could be a legitimate threat. Houston has stacked up 78.5 career sacks, and is coming off a season that featured 11 takedowns in 14 games. Though the Colts already feature solid pressure players like defensive linemen Jabaal Sheard, Denico Autry, Margus Hunt, Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis, the addition of Houston should bring additional pressure and versatility to a secondary that ranked 11th in total defense and 10th in scoring defense in 2018.
2. The Maniac returning for blood
Though linebacker Darius Leonard’s rookie season will be tough to best, he’s already expressed aspirations to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. He ended the 2018 season as an All-Pro and Defensive Rookie of the Year and led the NFL with 163 tackles and 111 solo tackles. This guy is hungry for success. “I wasn’t named MVP, I wasn’t a Super Bowl champion and I wasn’t a Pro Bowler,” he told the Indy Star. “So, there are still goals I hadn’t reached last year. I just go in with the same mindset as proving everybody wrong and just outworking everybody on the field.”
1.Revenge in Kansas City
I might be a little biased on this one, but I am most looking forward to Week 5 in which the Colts will once again travel to Kansas City for a rematch of the 2018 Divisional Round of the playoffs. As someone who attended the bitterly freezing and disappointing matchup, being ridiculed by Chiefs fans from the first snap to the final whistle, I must say I am eager to see how our incredibly stacked team will fare against Patrick Mahomes and his somewhat depleted defense. Andrew Luck threw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns (second only to Mahomes), and at this point, I’d say the two teams are pretty evenly matched. I am, however, ready for vengeance over the Chiefs fans that threw snowballs at me. I think the Colts have every chance to come into Kansas City and embarrass them in the same way they did to us in January. If I were the Chiefs, I wouldn’t sleep on this entirely revamped franchise.