The Colts are ten days away from breaking training camp. They’ve been at Grand Park since July 24th and at the halfway point we have seen the release of the team’s first unofficial depth chart, giving the first look at how the coaching staff view this group.
First unofficial depth chart of 2019 ⬇️— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 4, 2019
It should be noted that this depth chart has no verifiable meaning with reference to the coming season. The coaching staff has to put one together, and generally they are far more concerned with evaluations and preparation than they are providing a picture-perfect explanation of their thoughts about the roster. This list could, and probably will, look different when the time comes for cuts and they make an official depth chart.
That said, there are still plenty of things to be gleaned from a look through this information, and a couple of surprises as well.
— WR: T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers, Parris Campbell, Daurice Fountain, Steve Ishmael, Penny Hart, Jordan Veasy
— LT: Anthony Castonzo, Le’Raven Clark, Jackson Barton, J’Marcus Webb
— LG: Quenton Nelson, Evan Boehm, Ian Silberman
— C: Ryan Kelly, Josh Andrews, Evan Boehm, Daniel Munyer
— RG: Mark Glowinski, Jake Eldrenkamp
— RT: Braden Smith, Joe Haeg, Antonio Garcia
— TE: Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Gabe Holmes, Hale Hentges
— WR: Devin Funchess, Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson, Deon Cain, Krishawn Hogan, Ashton Dulin, Roger Lewis
— QB: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker, Chad Kelly
— TE: Eric Ebron, Ross Travis, Zach Conque
— RB: Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams, Keith Ford
This list doesn’t provide much clarity for a group that has several questions. What is clear is that T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess are the guys at the top of the roster, but beyond that, there are a lot of unknowns. Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers are the guys directly behind Hilton and Funchess, and rookie Parris Campbell follows them.
Fan favorite Deon Cain sits behind Marcus Johnson and Reece Fountain on this depth chart, making up numbers 6, 7, and 8 in the wide receiver room. Last year the Colts kept just 5 wide receivers, meaning that the likelihood of more than one of these guys making the roster is basically nonexistent if this order holds.
What does it mean? It means the preseason will be very important for the wide receivers. To stand out from the competition, someone is going to have to make an in game impact. They’ll need to prove they’re more than just “training camp stars” and show that their game translates to legitimate game situations. A strong showing when working on special teams certainly won’t hurt, either.
Essentially, the biggest takeaway from this group’s rankings is to illustrate how little we know. Also, it should be a reminder to Colts fans that the Colts probably like Chester Rogers better than you do.
The starting unit on the offensive line are all set to return, which is excellent. Of note behind that are several pretty versatile players. Evan Boehm backed up Ryan Kelly at center last year and did an admirable job, though nowhere near as great as Kelly played. However, Boehm finds himself behind UDFA Josh Andrews, who was signed from the Eagles’ practice squad at center. Boehm is listed as Quenton Nelson’s backup at left guard, however.
Last year the Colts kept 10 offensive linemen. That number would be a little surprising this season. The offensive line was dealing with a ton of injuries to start 2018, with both starting tackles dealing with injuries. Rookie Jackson Barton is certainly a player who is on the bubble, and depending on how his preseason goes, could end up cut. That simply goes to show how much tougher it has become to make this roster.
— DE: Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay, Gerri Green, Obum Gwacham
— NT: Tyquan Lewis, Margus Hunt, Grover Stewart
— UT: Denico Autry, Jihad Ward, Caraun Reid, Sterling Shippy
— DE: Jabaal Sheard, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Ben Banogu, Carroll Phillips, Dadi Nicolas
— WLB: Darius Leonard, E.J. Speed
— MLB: Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke, Ahmad Thomas
— SAM: Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, Skai Moore
— CB: Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson, Shakial Taylor, Jalen Collins
— FS: Malik Hooker, George Odum, Derrick Kindred, Isaiah Johnson
— SS: Clayton Geathers, Khari Willis, Matthias Farley, Rolan Milligan
— CB: Pierre Desir, Rock Ya-Sin, Nate Hairston, Marvell Tell III, Chris Milton
Last year at cuts, the Colts kept 6 linebackers. If they did so this year, it means that both rookies E.J. Speed and Bobby Okereke are likely in that group. Both players have looked good in camp and will need to continue that showing on the field in the preseason. With so many positions facing tough cuts, there is no guarantee that the Colts will keep 6 guys here, and the ability to help with special teams could be a major determining factor in who makes the final roster.
Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers have the starting safety spots locked down, but behind them it is interesting to note that Khari Willis has edged Matthias Farley as Geathers’ backup. That is significant, because Geathers is a player who struggles with health issues and his backup is likely to get playing time. George Odum is slotted in behind Hooker and his contributions on special teams, as well as his upside, have him likely to stick on the roster.
One small thing of note that popped up on the defensive line is that Tyquan Lewis is listed as the starter at the nose tackle spot. Given the depth across the line, that doesn’t mean a ton, because all these guys are likely to get snaps, and who plays where depends somewhat on the down. However, it certainly speaks to Lewis’ development that he unseats both Margus Hunt and Grover Stewart for that spot.
The defensive line was another spot the Colts kept 10 last year, and I think they’ll do so again. However, even with 10 guys, they are facing tough cuts. They will undoubtedly part ways with someone they really like from this group, and Jabaal Sheard’s knee injury doesn’t exactly alleviate the problem.
The starters at cornerback are essentially set, with Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir, and Quincy Wilson at the top. However, rookie Rock Ya-Sin has been excellent all camp, and a strong preseason would be a pretty strong case for getting him on the field. Interestingly, Nate Hairston has had a strong showing in camp and has himself right in the mix in this group.
Somewhat surprisingly, Jalen Collins, who has also looked pretty solid throughout camp is at the bottom with special teams ace Chris Milton. The bottom of this group continues to be a complete mystery in terms of how it will shake out, and the preseason will no doubt be critical in evaluating it. Last year the Colts kept 5 cornerbacks, which means there will be tough cuts at this position as well, whether they keep 5 or 6.
What this depth chart illustrates is that we have plenty of reason to watch the preseason games very carefully. A lot is left to be determined, and these next few weeks will make for critical opportunities at several positions.
Did anything about this depth chart surprise you?