Yesterday we went through the Colts offense and gave comps for their Marvel superhero counterparts. Today, it is on to defense, and there are some major players in this group. I have reached the end of my already extremely limited Photoshop abilities, so I apologize that today’s story will have far fewer bad attempts to replicate your favorite Colts as superheroes. It turns out that to effectively use Photoshop, you probably need more than 48 hours of experience. Who knew?
So, without further delay, here’s the Colts defense as Marvel superheroes. I’m sure you’ll unanimously agree with my selections, just like you all did for the offense.
Kenny Moore – Black Panther
Black Panther is the beloved leader of Wakanda, a technologically advanced and very private nation. He sports a suit of Vibranium and has consumed the “heart-shaped herb” which infuses him with enhanced senses as well as strength, reflexes, speed, agility and durability.
T’Challa, the man behind the mask, is not the greatest in stature, but his strength of character, indomitable spirit, technical proficiency, and leadership make him perfectly suited to the role of the Black Panther. He is a skilled fighter who knows how to maximize his size to wreak havoc upon his enemies, and he is relentless in pursuit of his mission.
This is as natural a fit as you will find on this defense. Kenny Moore started out as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots. They cut him, hoping he would slide to the practice squad, and Chris Ballard grabbed him. Since then, it has been the textbook story of an underdog taking the league by storm (as much as a nickel corner can).
Moore is arguably the best nickel in all of football, and his ability to slip past the edge to take down the quarterback, hit running backs in the backfield, and sniff out swing passes is uncanny. But it is his relentless and technical pursuit that makes him the best fit here. Like a cat, he is pound for pound the best tackler and most effective player on the defense. When you need someone to come through with a big play on third down, you look for two guys to come through, and Kenny Moore is one of them.
Rock Ya-Sin – Daredevil
Daredevil is a blind lawyer who has the power to “see” using his superpowered hearing as a kind of radar. He is fearless, taking on some of the biggest baddies out there, and never backing down. He doesn’t have superpowers beyond his balance and hearing but is a highly trained fighter who can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone.
Rock Ya-Sin’s first year is one that has been somewhat divisive. Many get hung up on his game against Denver and feel he was a complete failed experiment. Others who watched more closely see that he had a lot of really great performances but struggled against truly great receivers (like Courtland Sutton).
Like Daredevil, Ya-Sin seemed to struggle with seeing the ball in the air through a lot of last year. He was in position consistently to make plays, because his physicality and skill kept him on the hip of whoever he matched up against, but he didn’t always finish. Developing that radar sense will be critical to him taking the next step, but he fearlessly took on the best receivers he faced and came out looking pretty solid for a rookie at one of the toughest positions to learn.
Xavier Rhodes – Luke Cage
Luke Cage may not be the most popular hero on this list, but he is no one to take lightly either. His superhuman strength and dense skin and muscle tissue make him virtually indestructible, and when combined with his proficiency in combat, he’s a formidable opponent. Facing off against more powerful foes, he is able to hold his own and has been a part of the Avengers, and the Defenders at various times.
Xavier Rhodes shares the “hero for hire” mentality of Luke Cage. He comes to Indy as a means of a fresh start after the Vikings decided his time was up. While he isn’t at his peak anymore, he still packs a mean punch, and his instincts and technique are as good as they ever have been.
Malik Hooker – Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler is a mutant member of the X-Men who can teleport himself from one point to another instantly. He’s got sticky hands and is great in combat, aided by his superb athleticism and balance as well as his ability to camouflage himself in shadow.
Malik Hooker is the clear choice here. His range is well known, and if you asked our new QB Philip Rivers, his pick in week one of 2019 was nothing less than teleportation. He has great hands and can come out of nowhere to make big plays. Additionally, he can be surprisingly physical, which was not the book on him coming out of college.
While the Colts passed on picking up his 5th year option, they are no doubt hoping he’ll put his great amount of potential together and have a career year to earn a big payday.
Khari Willis – Iron Fist
“Iron Fist” Danny Rand is a superhero who can focus his energy into a punch that is impervious to damage and can deal out some serous punishment. He has teamed up with Luke Cage and trained him in the ways of martial arts to become a supremely great fighter. He has paired up with Cage as well as being a part of the New Avengers and the Defenders.
Khari Willis similarly packs a surprising punch and brought a level of focus and intensity to the safety position as a rookie that was unexpected. The Colts loved him and moved up to get him in 2019, and his leadership and drive made that move look great. He is a solid tackler and operates well out of the box, slowing taking over Clayton Geathers’ snaps last season and marking off a more increased role for himself on the defense in 2020.
Justin Houston – Beast
Beast is a super intelligent member of the X-Men who also possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, and has a very acrobatic fighting style. Skilled in hand to hand combat, Beast is a pillar of the X-Men and has trained directly under Professor X and Captain America.
Justin Houston may not be in his prime any longer, but he still has the great hands, power, and speed on the edge that made him the great player he is. Houston has provided a solid presence off the edge his whole career, and that won’t change in 2020. He gives the Colts consistency, a veteran presence, and the kind of toughness and smarts that this young defense can learn from.
DeForest Buckner – Colossus
Colossus is the member of the X-Men who can turn his entire body into a type of organic steel that is virtually indestructible. It makes him tough, and prevents almost any kind of injury, allowing him to always be ready for a fight as well as to protect others. He is incredibly strong, able to barrage his opponents with his power while also possessing great hand-to-hand combat skills.
Like his superhero counterpart, Buckner is near impossible to injure. In his 4 seasons in the league he has missed one game, in his rookie season. Since then he’s been on the field whenever called upon, and he’s been a force. His disruption is notable, with great ability to win by technical proficiency, or just plain powering through the competition. He adds a major piece in the middle of the Colts’ defense that will have to be dealt with by opposing offensive lines.
Grover Stewart – The Thing
The oft overlooked member of the Fantastic Four, the Thing has super strength and stamina to go along with his rock-like exterior which makes him incredibly durable. Far from just a brute, the Thing has a background as an engineer and as a Marine Corps test pilot. He may not get much credit, but he’s a quality part of the team.
Grover Stewart finally turned a corner in 2019 and began to look more like what the Colts hoped he might be. He slowly increased his time as the team’s nose tackle of choice, and if he continues that progress, 2020 could be his year. Alongside DeForest Buckner, he’ll be free to cause mayhem on the inside, and the increased talent on the line should create an ideal situation for him to succeed.
Kemoko Turay – Wolverine
Perhaps no one is more deadly or more exciting than the X-Men’s favorite curmudgeon, Wolverine. A mutant with a healing factor that rapidly regenerates tissue that has been damaged, Wolverine is nearly impossible to kill. He also has retractable bone claws in both hands. As a part of the Weapon X program, his skeleton has been infused with adamantium, a near indestructible metal.
Wolverine has animal like reflexes and senses, as well as superhuman speed and strength. He has amassed a great amount of combat experience over an abnormally long lifetime which his healing factor makes possible. Combined with his other abilities, it makes the otherwise undersized Wolverine one of the most formidable members of the X-Men and the Marvel Universe.
When Kemoko Turay went down with a broken and dislocated ankle, we were just seeing the second-year player heat up. With tons of potential and a devastating first step, Turay had already been making himself a nuisance through four games when he hurt his ankle. In that short time, he had 1.5 sacks, 4 QB hits, 8 hurries, and a forced fumble. With a full recovery, and a more significant presence in the middle in the form of DeForest Buckner, Turay should have an electric third season and truly do some damage off the edge.
Darius Leonard – The Punisher
Frank Castle is not a man to mess with. He operates in terms of black and white, seeking vengeance above all. He hits hard, strikes first, and isn’t just looking to stop you, but to take everything from you. Motivated by the loss of his family, Castle is former special forces who uses his training to deal out his own brand of justice.
While many might view him as deranged, there is little doubt that this is one maniac who gets the job done. He can do it as part of a team, but if he has to, he is more than resourceful enough to get the job done all on his own if needed.
The Maniac himself is just as resourceful as the Punisher, dealing out damage on the field to the tune of two All-Pro appearances and the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in his two seasons in the NFL. Overlooked coming out, he’s a player who doesn’t just look to make a stop, he looks to take the ball away on every single play.
It isn’t the loss of his family that fuels Leonard, but rather the chip on his shoulder from being labeled the “worst pick in the draft” and snubbed from the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Those slights drive his need to prove himself, and he has high aspirations for himself and the team. One thing is certain—he won’t let up until he reaches those goals.
Anthony Walker - Cyclops
Cyclops is a central part of the X-Men, and the team leader. Consistently outshone by Wolverine, he isn’t always the most well-liked, but he works closely with Professor X and has become a master tactician, planner, and leader. He also has great hand to hand combat skills. Most prominently, his namesake is derived from his mutant ability to emit powerful optic blasts.
Like Cyclops, Walker is the MIKE linebacker, and frequently the on-field leader in terms of communications. He is suited well to his role, though he struggled when tasked with taking on Leonard’s role, and works best as part of a good team. Also in line with his superhero comp, Walker can be a bit laser focused on one target, and because of this may misjudge running lanes and angles to the ball. He is a valued part of the roster though, and paired with Leonard makes a strong duo.