According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts 2nd-year cornerback Marvell Tell is a name to watch for his team ahead of the 2020 season:
Name to watch: Marvell Tell III
Name value will likely propel Xavier Rhodes to the starting job in Indianapolis, but he has been thoroughly exposed over the last two seasons in Minnesota. That culminated in a 2019 season where he earned a coverage grade of 45.3 while allowing 66 of the 79 passes into his coverage to be completed. Those are bottom of the barrel numbers. He’ll have to significantly turn his career around to play up to the level of a starting-caliber cornerback. Tell, meanwhile, showed promise in limited action as a rookie with an overall grade of 67.6. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the former safety starting with Rock Ya-Sin late next season.
The 2019 5th round pick out of USC and converted cornerback was a pleasant surprise for the Colts secondary last season, recording 26 tackles, a forced fumble, and 5 passes defensed in 13 games (1 start).
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Tell’s overall grade of +67.6 ranked 57th among all cornerbacks—including a +89.2 tackling grade, which isn’t too shabby for a rookie Day 3 pick.
While former All-Pro Xavier Rhodes was signed to start on the other side of 2nd-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin along the outside, Tell could very well be ‘the next man up’—should Rhodes continue to regress in coverage.
The veteran cornerback struggled the past two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but the Colts are hoping that a much needed change of scenery, reunion with his old defensive backs coaches, and a scheme shift could revive Rhodes’ once great career.
To his credit, Tell has flashed speed, solid ball skills, and is a willing tackler in run support.
Even if he isn’t the starter in 2020, Tell could very well be the eventual heir apparent to the 29 year old Rhodes—who was signed to just a one-year ‘prove it’ deal earlier this offseason. He should still see some work in the Colts’ nickel packages as the 4th cornerback—and while occasionally rotating in with the starters.
As it stands, Tell’s certainly a young player to watch at cornerback this upcoming season.
Meanwhile, the starter on the other side of veteran Justin Houston at defensive end was the Colts roster’s ‘battle to watch’:
Battle to watch: Edge defender opposite Justin Houston
There are a couple of names who could start opposite Houston, but none of them are overly exciting. The most exciting of the bunch may be Kemoko Turay after he got off to a very fast start to the 2019 season (91.0 pass-rushing grade before season-ending injury in Week 5), but he was used primarily as a pass-rushing specialist, with 72 of his 81 defensive snaps coming on pass plays. Ben Banogu and Tyquan Lewis are also names who could fill the position. Al-Quadin Muhammad has the most experience of the bunch and has graded decently over the last two seasons in Indianapolis.
Right now, it appears that Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis could handle some of the run downs situationally—in free agent Jabaal Sheard’s old role, while Kemoko Turay will be utilized primarily as a pass rushing specialist (with young pass rushers Ben Banogu and Al-Quadin Muhammad also rotating in on passing downs).