According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts have four critical positional needs this early offseason: quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, and defensive line—to the surprise of no one:
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: QB, WR, OT, DL
Indianapolis went all-in on Carson Wentz last offseason by trading away a 2022 first-rounder and last year’s third-round pick. After a tumultuous collapse to keep the Colts out of the postseason, head coach Frank Reich and company are now back to square one and keeping all options open at the most important position on the field.
Wentz was his normal, volatile self in 2021 and ended up with a 67.9 passing grade, ranking 21st in the NFL. If the Colts like one of the rookie signal-caller prospects, a trade-up will be required. While there are no veterans slated to hit free agency who would be considered an upgrade from Wentz, the team does have ample cap space to make improvements to the roster, specifically at wide receiver and left tackle.
First and foremost, the Colts have to make a decision on whether to continue to roll with enigmatic incumbent starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who at times played well enough to win with—but collapsed down the season’s late stretch. Wentz, at times, showcased his immense physical tools, but way too often, refused to make the routine throw or checkdown—electing to hold the football for the big play (that seemingly rarely came). The Colts should rightfully scour the starting quarterback market for any and all potential upgrades, but short of a blockbuster Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson trade, there might not be a realistic option that pushes the needle far enough to actually move on from Wentz.
Then, there’s wide receiver where beyond 2nd-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr., the receiving corps lack another high end playmaker. Fellow starter Zach Pascal is best utilized as a blocker and in certain offensive packages, while longtime veteran great T.Y. Hilton is in the twilight of his playing career and may elect to retire all together. Parris Campbell continues to be limited by injuries, and hasn’t made a significant impact even when on the field. There’s some intriguing developmental depth options such as Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, and Mike Strachan, but no one the Colts should feel comfortable yet safely penciling in for the WR2 spot—given the collective lack of receiving playmakers offensively.
While Braden Smith has the starting right tackle firmly solidified for the foreseeable future, the Colts still have to figure out what to do along the blindside. Veteran starting left tackle Eric Fisher is a free agent and while he was an asset in run blocking, he really struggled in pass blocking. Perhaps, he’ll regain some of his lost lateral quickness and ‘quick twitch’ athleticism the further he is removed from an early 2021 torn Achilles, but maybe not, and the Colts can’t afford him to be as big of a liability again in pass protection. Fellow free agent, swing tackle Matt Pryor seems like someone the Colts would presumably like to re-sign, given how well he played in spot start duty in 2021. However, it’s possible another team could like him too for the same reasons and go beyond the Colts perceived market value to retain him—given how little Indianapolis has invested in swing tackles so far.
Lastly, there’s the defensive line. Kwity Paye should continue to improve and develop after a solid rookie season, while fellow rookie Dayo Odeyingbo is a wild card and could become a difference maker—the further he’s also removed from a 2020 season torn Achilles. Still, defensive linemen such as Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay, and Isaac Rochell are all free agents and even if a few are retained, each is best suited as a rotational defensive lineman—not a starter. The Colts need another consistent impact pass rusher off the edge to complement Paye on the other side and DeForest Buckner in the interior—as it’s a facet of their defense that too often stalled during the 2021 campaign.