The Indianapolis Colts are surprising many with their good play this season. The team has mostly won thanks to great collective efforts from multiple players. When evaluating the team, it’s tough to point to one player as a consistent weekly game changer, but there are a few players that stand out above the rest.
At the end of each season, the Associated Press votes in an All Pro team, comprising of the best 50 or so players in the NFL. Those players are split into two groups (1st team and 2nd team). Are there any players on the Colts that should be selected to those teams? There are certainly a few candidates.
There are 4 interior defensive linemen that are named to the All Pro team, so the simple question is: Is DeForest Buckner one of the best four guys at that spot in the NFL? There’s a strong argument for yes.
If you had to name the 6-7 best interior defensive linemen in the league this year, by most metrics you would get:
- Dexter Lawrence
- Chris Jones
- Quinnen Williams
- Aaron Donald
- DeForest Buckner
- Jeffery Simmons
- Jalen Carter
In my opinion, Lawrence and Williams are locks for 1st team (at this point). By reputation, you’d have to imagine that Aaron Donald will make the team again, plus he’s also having another great season. The question comes down to who’s better between Jones, Buckner, Simmons and Carter. Despite his great play as a rookie, Carter isn’t consistent enough or as dominant as a run stopper as the others so you can probably exclude him. Simmons suffered an injury last week against the Colts, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. If he does miss a week or two, that will jeopardize his bid for an All Pro team. Also his play this year hasn’t been as dominant on a weaker Titans defense.
So in my opinion, the last spot comes down to Chris Jones or DeForest Buckner. While Jones is a better pass rusher, he is a below average run stopper and the Chiefs are using him less on early downs. Buckner on the otherhand is an every down type of player and a lot more versatile than Jones, despite having weaker pass rushing stats. Jones has the reputation advantage over Buckner, so that will give him a slight advantage over things. What will help Buckner is if he bridges the gap in the pass rushing category, which he is close to doing (just behind in sacks and pressures). If he closes the gap by the end of the season, he should get the nod over Jones who is a much weaker run stopper than Buckner. At this point, this is a 50/50.
Chances of being named All Pro: 50%
Nelson has mostly returned to his old form, but he’s not all the way back. He’s still allowing more pressures than when he was at his peak, but what also doesn’t help is the interior blocking from the Colts in the run game has been relatively weak this season. The Colts rank in the bottom quadrant of the NFL in terms of adjusted line yards for, and their blocking numbers between the tackles are also poor. This doesn’t reflect well on Nelson, who’s run blocking grades are average at best, according to PFF (which should be taken with a grain of salt).
What also doesn’t help is that there have been a few offensive guards who have had stellar seasons, such as Zack Martin, Chris Lindstrom, Quinn Meinerz and Joe Thuney. Three of those four guys also made the All Pro team last season so they will have reputation working for them. Nelson is currently at least a tier below those guys so him getting in is unlikely as of this writing and I doubt that changes.
Chances of being named All Pro: 10%
Gay has had a tremendous season for the Colts, with his best performance coming against the Baltimore Ravens where he hit 4 field goals above 50 yards, including the game winner, which is an NFL record. He single handedly won the Colts that massive game. Gay has made every one of his kicks under 45 yards this season and 3 of his 4 misses have been over 50 yards. He is currently tied for 1st with 7 made kicks over 50 yards. While there are many kickers with a better field goal percentage this year, Gay has attempted a lot more longer kicks (45 and more) than most of the kickers in the league. Gay is also one of 11 kickers in the league with a perfect extra point percentage.
What hurts Gay’s case is that there are only two kickers named to the All Pro teams and there have been some incredible kicking performances this season, especially from three names: Brandon Aubrey, Harrison Butker, Nick Folk and Younghoe Koo. Between the four of them, they’ve missed 2 kicks all year. So Gay is fighting an uphill battle against some incredible kickers. Nevertheless, Gay’s fantastic season should be highlighted.
Chances of being named All Pro: 5%
Moore has had a tremendous bounce-back season, and while we can talk about all the metrics that show his tremendous play, the reality is he won’t get the nickel-back nod over Da’Ron Bland and there’s no world where the Associated Press will vote in two nickel cornerbacks for All Pro, so there’s no point in discussing Moore as a possible All Pro player.
Kelly is having a great resurgent season, as I outlined a month ago, but for him to get the nod of Jason Kelce, Creed Humphrey, Frank Ragnow or even Connor Williams will be next to impossible. Kelce has done everything to deserve the 1st team nod and the reality is his reputation will further help his case. While Kelly might be a better pass blocker than the rest, the four names mentioned as well as some others are clearly better in the run game. Kelly should get some recognition but making this team is extremely unlikely.
As of this writing, the Colts’ best hope to make an All Pro team will be DeForest Buckner. The Colts have a variety of players who have played well this season and with no consistent standout star, that will hurt their chances for sending players to the All Pro team.