Pro Football Focus and ESPN, per the article, have released NFL roster rankings (linked here), which includes “strengths, weaknesses and X-factors for every team’s starting lineup.”
The article states, “As a part of our partnership with ESPN, this is a part of a story that was originally published on ESPN+ and can be viewed in its entirety here with your ESPN+ subscription — NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams for 2021: Strengths, weaknesses and X factors for every team’s starting lineup.”
Indianapolis’ roster comes in at No. 14, which ranks just right below division-rival Tennessee, Washington and the 49ers. While the Colts’ roster certainly has some question marks — particularly as it relates to the uncertainties and inexperience in parts of the secondary — some may find the mid-tier ranking as a bit too low.
As for the strengths, weaknesses and x-factor for Indy’s roster, PFF, to no surprise, highlights Quenton Nelson as the rosters biggest strength. Rock Ya-Sin, after having an average season, is considered the rosters biggest weakness. Kemoko Turay, meanwhile, is the rosters X-factor.
PFF goes on to highlight the dominance of Nelson, as their “wins above replacement metric recognizes him as the most valuable offensive lineman in the league since Zack Martin and Ryan Ramczyk.” Additionally, Ya-Sin finished the 2020 season with a coverage grade of 48.2, according to the article. Inconsistency in coverage and penalties drawn by the third-year corner are just part of the reason for PFFs ranking.
Furthermore, it’s been reported the second cornerback position is going to be an open competition in camp this year. We know how much GM Chris Ballard preaches ‘earning your spot,’ so I’d look for Marvell Tell — who’s returning the the team after opting out last season, and second-year cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, to provide some competition for Ya-Sin’s spot.
Yes, addressing defensive end with their first two draft picks will almost certainly alleviate some of the pressure on the Colts’ secondary. If the pass rush can get home on a consistent basis, the corners won’t have to cover as long, which may or may not impact Ya-Sin and others corners’ overall play. That said, outside of Xavier Rhodes, who’s only on a one-year deal with the team, the Colts still need their young corners to step up in a big way for them this season.
We’ve seen flashes of potential stardom from Turay, who’s had a lingering ankle injury for the past few seasons. The fourth-year defensive end hasn’t been at full strength since sustaining the injury in 2019, but the Colts expect him to be 100% healthy for the upcoming season.
DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart are among the best interior defensive lineman in the entire league. Combine that with the presence of a healthy Turay on third downs and rookie Kwity Paye rushing from the right side, Indy won’t just have one of the strongest defensive lines in terms of depth, but they could find themselves amongst the NFL’s preeminent units this season, too.