6. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
With a strong offensive line in place, Marlon Mack and second-round pick Jonathan Taylor are primed to benefit. Mack has been one of the best runners in the league since 2017, posting an 81.8 rushing grade and averaging an impressive 2.9 yards after contact per rush. He uses his above-average burst to get into the secondary and create big plays, as he has the 10th-highest percentage of breakaway (15-plus yards) runs since entering the league.
Taylor adds a nice complement as perhaps the best all-around runner in this year’s draft class. He had an incredible three-year run at Wisconsin, grading at 95.3 as a rusher while averaging 4.2 yards after contact per rush. Like Mack, Taylor excels in any scheme, giving the Colts one of the NFL’s most versatile duos from a run-game perspective.
The only question is in the pass game, where Mack has never graded above 53.8 and Taylor has the third-highest drop rate of NFL caliber running backs to come out in recent years. That’s where Nyheim Hines is still useful — he has caught 107 passes over the past two years. The Colts have one of the best all-around backfields in the NFL.
Of course, the Colts have last year’s 1,000 yard rusher, Marlon Mack, returning—who was one of the NFL’s most explosive runners. The 24 year old back amassed 1,091 rushing yards on 247 carries (4.4 ypc. avg) and 8 rushing touchdowns during 2019.
Entering a contract year, Mack will have a lot of extra motivation to prove himself again.
Meanwhile, the Colts traded up in the early second round to select prized Wisconsin rookie running back Jonathan Taylor—who rushed for back-to-back seasons of over 2,000 yards and very well might’ve been the NCAA’s career rushing yards king had he stayed all four years in Madison.
The 5’10”, 226 pound big bodied back ran a blistering fast 4.39 forty time at this year’s NFL Combine (the fastest among rookie running backs who tested)—featuring a freaky power, speed combination athletically.
He should be a natural fit in the Colts’ zone blocking scheme with his patience and vision.
Colts’ scatback Nyheim Hines should prove to be an invaluable receiving back out of the Indy backfield—as Philip Rivers could utilize him in an Austin Ekeler-like receiving role. Jordan Wilkins is also a useful change-of-pace back off the Colts bench.
For what it’s worth, the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints all ranked higher than the Colts here respectively.
Still, with Mack and Taylor, the Colts have arguably one of the best ‘1-2’ punches in football with two bonafide bellcows—which should force defenses to adapt to two differing running styles and keep each of their workhorse’s legs fresh down the 2020 stretch.
This should be one of the NFL’s best backfields this upcoming season.