The Colts’ defense is one of the youngest in the entire NFL. Even though the defense is one of the NFL’s best, there are still some underrated players that don’t get the national recognition they so rightfully deserve.
Here are, in my opinion, the three most underrated players given their importance to the defenses success not just this season, but for seasons to come.
1. Kenny Moore, CB
I couldn’t make this kind of list and not include one of the NFL’s most underrated slot corners. Since being claimed on waivers by the team in 2017, Moore has been nothing short of exceptional. In his four seasons with the Colts, according to profootballreference.com, Moore’s racked up a total of 256 combined tackles — 213 of which have been solo, 43 assisted tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, 6 sacks, 32 defended passes, 3 forced fumbles and 10 interceptions.
Don’t just take my word for it, though, as Pro Football Focus ranked the 5’9” superstar as its #1 slot corner going into the 2021 season. Put simply: Moore is just ridiculously good at football, and his value to the team cannot be overstated. He can quite literally do it all — whether it’s play the run at an elite and consistent level, line up against and lock down some of the league’s better slot receivers and tight ends (yes, I’m referring to you, Darren Waller), or swoop in for a sack at the right time, Moore could very well be the team’s best defensive player.
2. Grover Stewart
Stewart was certainly one of Indy’s most valuable defensive pieces throughout the last two seasons. According to profootballrefernce.com, the 27-year-old interior lineman has garnered a total of 83 combined tackles (54 solo), 29 assisted tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10 QB hits and 3.5 sacks in his last two seasons. The star lineman has performed so well that the Colts rewarded the former fifth-round selection with a 3-year, $30.75M contract extension.
Additionally, Stewart played a substantial role in Indy’s run defense being second best to only Tampa Bay last season. The Colts only surrendered 90.8 yards per game, according to teamrankings.com. I’d argue that, given Stewart’s level of production throughout the last two season, he’s one the league’s best one-tech defensive tackles.
3. Bobby Okereke, LB
Okereke is expected to slide into the MIKE linebacker role this season. The third-year linebacker has been very productive during his first two seasons, racking up a total of 137 combined tackles and an interception. Part of what helps Okereke stand out is his athleticism and ability to play sideline-to-sideline, and it has me excited about seeing how he improves this season.
The numbers may not have been eye-popping last season, but Okereke certainly had his moments last year — like the diving interception against Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, which helped get Indy back into that game. Pairing him with All-Pro Darius Leonard could very well give Indy one of the better linebacking corps in the entire league. There’s no question that Okereke has the size, speed, and overall capability to take the next step, and I think he’s going to become a star for the Colts’ defense this season.
Without these three players, the Colts’ defense would look much different and may not be as strong as it currently is. If Stewart, Okereke and Moore can continue to grow and perform at a consistent and elite level, they’ll help Indy’s defense go from being ‘very good’ to ‘exceptionally great.’