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Aziz’s 53 Man Roster Prediction

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Quarterbacks (2)

Matt Ryan

Nick Foles

Ehlinger, at this point, is not worth keeping a roster spot for and Coan is a good candidate for the practice squad, so with a Ryan-Foles 1-2, the Colts can safely roll with 2 good, quality quarterbacks to start the season and keep one on the practice squad. Matt Ryan has missed 3 games in his entire career so he is not an injury prone player.

Running Backs (4)

Jonathan Taylor

Nyheim Hines

Phillip Lindsay

Deon Jackson

Taylor and Hines clearly lead the way here and if either of them, especially Taylor, go down, you will see a major drop off in quality, so you don’t worry too much about depth since Taylor is going to be getting most of the work and Hines will be rotating in and getting some receiver work.

Receivers (6)

Michael Pittman Jr

Alec Pierce

Parris Campbell

Mike Strachan

Dezmon Patmon

Ashton Dulin

This group took a small step forward with the addition of Alec Pierce, who has tremendous upside and MPJ is looking like he’s going to become a solid #1 receiver. The issue becomes can Parris Campbell stay healthy and if he can’t, who can become a good #3 receiver? This group is thin, inexperienced, and unproven.

Tight Ends (4)

Mo Alie-Cox

Jelani Woods

Kylen Granson

Andrew Ogletree

This group is young and has a lot of athletic upside, but could struggle with being too raw early on. Nevertheless, MAC should be a nice #1 option and take the reigns and there should be a good battle between Woods and Granson for the #2 spot.

Offensive Line (9)

Quenton Nelson (OG)

Ryan Kelly (C)

Braden Smith (OT)

Matt Pryor (OT)

Danny Pinter (OG/C)

Dennis Kelly (OT)

Bernhard Raimann (OT)

Will Fries (OG/OT)

Jason Spriggs (OG/OT)

This offensive line group is a little top heavy with absolute studs in Nelson, Kelly and Smith, but there’s a drop off after them. Pryor proved to be a good starter last year and Pinter is a relative unknown, since he’s only played in spurts throughout his career. The backup group has a good combination reliable veterans and young upstarts.

Defensive Line (9)

DeForest Buckner (DT)

Yannick Ngakoue (DE)

Kwity Paye (DE)

Grover Stewart (DT)

Tyquan Lewis (DE)

Dayo Odeyingbo (DE/DT)

Eric Johnson (DT)

Curtis Brooks (DT)

Ben Banogu (DE)

This defensive line group has a TON of versatility. Guys like Lewis and Dayo can easily play inside or out, but a player like DeForest Buckner can play the 5-tech spot too if needed. Versatility is becoming very popular for front 7s since it allows the defensive coordinator to have more tools in his toolbox.

Linebackers (5)

Darius Leonard

Bobby Okereke

Zaire Franklin

EJ Speed

Jojo Domann

With defenses utilizing a lot more nickel and dime packages, the days of 6-7 linebackers are over. I expect the Colts to keep 5 with their top 4 being locks and I like Domann taking that last spot with his athleticism and Big 10 experience. Leonard and Okereke will see the large majority of reps and Franklin I’m sure will rotate in on early downs as well as be a key contributor on special teams (Speed too).

Cornerbacks (6)

Stephon Gilmore

Kenny Moore

Isaiah Rodgers

Brandon Facyson

Anthony Chesley

Marvell Tell III

That battle for the #6 spot is as open as any on the roster, but the top 5 guys look pretty set in stone. Gilmore, Moore and Rodgers will be getting the bulk of the action in the secondary and Facyson and Chesley should serve as good backup options. We know Moore will perform very well and Rodgers, in the right system won’t hurt you; if Gilmore can play just 75% of what he was a few years ago and not see a dramatic drop off, this group will be very strong.

Safeties (5)

Julian Blackmon

Nick Cross

Rodney McCleod

Armani Watts

Rodney Thomas II

I like this safety group. Blackmon, who tore his achilles in October, should be nearing 100% at around this point and shouldn’t have any real issues come September. I expect him to have a good return. Nick Cross and Rodney McCleod are going to have a fantastic battle for the strong safety spot and the loser would serve as a very good rotational player. Watts and Thomas project as very good special teams players, especially Watts.

Special Teams (3)

Rodrigo Blankenship

Rigoberto Sanchez

Luke Rhodes

Sanchez and Rhodes are fantastic, but Hot Rod is a big question mark and may not be the best long-term option for the team. Hopefully he improved his kicking power/strength over the offseason.