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Top 3 underrated players on the Colts’ offense

Indianapolis Colts v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

From an offensive standpoint, the Colts have quite a bit of talent. There are several players who, in my opinion, are vastly underrated given their level of production throughout their time with Indy. They rank as follows:

  1. Zach Pascal, WR

I wrote an entire piece over Pascal’s level of production and what he’s meant to the offense. The numbers don’t lie, as Pascal has been one of the Colts’ most productive and consistent, go-to targets during the last two seasons.

To some, he may not be ‘well-known,’ but Pascal has certainly made his presence known on the field, racking up back-to-back seasons with over 600 yards and six touchdowns. To be more exact, Pascal had a grand total of 1,504 yards and twelve touchdowns during his last two seasons, averaging nearly 15 yards per catch with 14.3, according to profootballreference.com.

Pascal isn’t just a reliable pass-catcher, though. He can run block, too, which is part of what makes him so valuable to the team. With Parris Campbell coming back healthy, the emergence of Michael Pittman Jr. and T.Y. Hilton’s ability to still make key plays and attract double teams, perhaps the former Old Dominion wideout plays a similar role to what he has the last two seasons. If I were Indy, however, I’d make sure Pascal gets more involved this season, as he’s been far too productive and reliable to not be.

2. Braden Smith, RT

Yes, you read that correctly. Braden Smith is my second-ranked underrated offensive player. How can he not be? I mean, Smith only gave up zero sacks last season in 531 pass-blocking snaps. And when you consider the level of competition Smith faced last season — (J.J. Watt, Matthew Judon, Josh Allen, Khalil Mack and others), going an entire season without surrendering a single sack becomes that much more impressive. Smith should’ve been an All-Pro last season for his extraordinary play last season.

No wonder the Colts are zeroing in on extending Smith long-term. If I were GM Chris Ballard, I’d give the star offensive a 4 to 5-year extension. Smith has just been that exceptional since becoming the starter in Week 5 of the 2018 season. Offensive lineman, especially elite ones like Smith, cannot be undervalued in today’s pass-heavy NFL.

Smith is a big, big reason why many believe the Colts have the best offensive line in the entire league. He is, without question, one of the best all-around tackles in the NFL today.

3. Nyheim Hines, RB

Don’t sleep on Hines’ role with the team this season. Yes, Marlon Mack’s been brought back and is likely going to receive more carries than Hines, but the star back can beat opposing defenses in a multitude of ways. As a pure pass-catcher, I’d argue Hines is one of the best in the league, too. There are very few all-around running backs who I’d take over #21.

He’ll beat you with big-chunk plays as a runner, catching the ball out of the backfield and even in the special teams department. Hines had multiple kick and punt returns last season which were called back because of a late penalty. Speaking of players who can keep an opposing coordinator awake at night, Hines will do that as well.

When you’re playing the Colts, as a defensive coordinator, you have to know where Hines is at all times. And you might want to do a little extra preparation on ‘tackling drills,’ that week, too, ‘cause the speedster will make you look foolish in the open field if given the opportunity.

I’d be shocked if Indy doesn’t extend Hines long-term. He means too much — not just a running back, but a complete and dominant football player.