According to ESPN’s ‘panel of experts’ (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts rank 9th best in ‘future power rankings’ for the next three NFL seasons—based on a weighted average of each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching respectively:
9. Indianapolis Colts
Overall score: 81.1
Why they’re here: A roster flush with talent on both sides of the ball is the byproduct of GM Chris Ballard’s calculated roster building. He has used the draft and opportunistic trades to set Indy up for success for a long time, with one player representing the lever to dictate just how high the Colts can climb: QB Carson Wentz. If Wentz comes close to the player he was in 2017, Indy will catapult up this list. — Yates
Biggest worry: Over the next three seasons, as Wentz goes, this teams goes. Ballard has built from a culture perspective, and coach Frank Reich has an ability to formulate relationships with his players. If they can get Wentz to play at a top-10 to -15 level, they will be at least a wild-card team and challenge the Titans for supremacy in the AFC South, both in the short and long term. — Riddick
What could change for the better: Indianapolis should have an elite running game for years to come. Jonathan Taylor has a chance to become a top-five back in 2021 with his breakaway speed and explosion. And on defense, the young safety tandem of Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis is underrated. Both are long-term pillars that Indy drafted and developed out of the middle rounds. — Fowler
Stat to know: Philip Rivers was sacked on just 3.4% of his dropbacks in 2020, fifth best in the league. Wentz was sacked on 9.9% of his dropbacks, worst among qualifiers. Sack rate is largely controlled by quarterbacks, so even though he’s moving to Indianapolis, Wentz is going to have improve if he has any hope of staying upright the way Rivers did. — Walder
Here’s how the league rankings were computed:
To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2021 through 2023), we asked our panel of experts — Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates — to rate each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale:
100: A+ (Elite)
90: A (Great)
80: B (Very good)
70: C (Average)
60: D (Very bad)
50 and below: F (Disastrous)
After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score: roster (30%), quarterback (20%), draft (15%), front office (15%) and coaching (20%). The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future. Our experts each wrote a blurb for all 32 teams, hitting on biggest worries, stats to know and what could change in upcoming years.
Always prudently managed, the Colts have the league’s lowest dead cap hit right now.
With a projected $83.0 million of available cap space in 2022, the Colts are once again set up with great salary cap flexibility going forward—although with some key mega-extensions looming that will certainly eat into that number.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has built a strong all-around roster on offense, defense, and special teams—and also one of the league’s youngest collectively.
The Colts feature NFL superstars such as Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, and DeForest Buckner, as well as ascending standouts Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith, and Kenny Moore.
The Colts are arguably just a Top 12 or so starting quarterback away from making a serious push in the AFC playoff hunt.
Insert Carson Wentz, who at only 28 years old, has a real chance to regain his prior franchise quarterback form in Indianapolis—reunited with head coach Frank Reich.
The Colts have a very strong overall roster—while maintaining necessary salary cap flexibility, and that figures to be true going forward for the foreseeable future.