On ‘The Athletic Football Show’ with Robert Mays, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard praised nickelback Kenny Moore as a ‘can do it all’ defensive back—while discussing publicly his confidence in his cornerback group as a whole:
“And then at corner, Kenny Moore, (no one can say) he’s not the best nickel in the league, and he can do it all,” Ballard told Mays on ‘The Athletic Football Show’. “He can cover. He can play zone coverage. I mean it’s like a linebacker position for us. We blitz him. We do a lot of different stuff with him.”
“And getting Xavier Rhodes back was big too. We really like Xavier, and we think he’s got years left, and he ended up being a really good leader for us on defense.”
“And then now with Rock, it’s going to be a big year for Rock Ya-Sin, but we think he showed some signs where we think he can do it.”
“Bring in T.J. Carrie back, who can play multiple spots.”
“And then getting Marvell Tell (back). This is one people (forget) because he opted out last year because of COVID. We thought he’d play. He started some games for us in ‘19, getting him back.”
“We think we’ve got a pretty good group. We also have some added young players in there that we think (have) got some upside.”
While addressing cornerback was a potential possibility in this year’s NFL Draft, the Colts made no significant additions to a unit that played much better than expected last season and quietly impressed overall.
Slot cornerback Kenny Moore is an incredibly versatile defensive back, who as Ballard noted can cover, blitz, (and tackle)—all at a very high level. PFF ranked him as the NFL’s best slot cornerback earlier this offseason.
Meanwhile, Xavier Rhodes is the veteran leader of the Colts’ cornerback group and was a lockdown DB last season for Indianapolis—enjoying a career rejuvenation with a scheme shift and much needed change of scenery. NFL Next Gen Stats ranked him as the NFL’s 7th best coverage defender overall from 2020.
T.J. Carrie provides proven veteran stability, added versatility, and extra depth with his ability to play both outside and in the slot—and hold his own out there competently.
Ya-Sin endured an up-and-down 2nd-year season and will need to get more consistent in coverage without grabbing and getting too handsy—as he was generally in good position to make plays on the football. On the other hand, Tell will have to shake off some rust, having sat out the entirety of this past season, which limited any development/growth last year.
While not mentioned specifically by name by Ballard, 2nd-year cornerback Isaiah Rodgers is assuredly one of those ‘young players’ to watch for Indianapolis in the positional mix as well—as he impressed as a rookie when called upon.
Similar to their wide receiver group, the Colts lack an NFL superstar at the cornerback position—although the so far snubbed Moore should at least rightfully be a Pro Bowler soon (seriously, the NFL needs to add a slot cornerback positional designation for voting).
However, it’s a unit that has a good mix of youthful and veteran talent alike. The position should remain solid again for the Colts in 2021. However, the Colts improving their overall pass rush would certainly help their cornerback room look better collectively on the field.