According to NFL.com’s Marc Sessler, the Indianapolis Colts biggest remaining offseason priority is shoring up the starting offensive line—particularly as it relates to right guard:
Top priority: Patch up the front five
The new-look Colts loom as much-watch material with athletically freaky rookie passer Anthony Richardson baked into a Shane Steichen-authored playbook. Their early success hinges largely on the state of Indy’s work-in-progress O-line. The injury-riddled conglomerate fell off a cliff last autumn, turning Matt Ryan into a weekly punching bag while giving up the second-most sacks league-wide with 60. The Colts ignored their line in free agency before waiting until the fourth round to draft tackle Blake Freeland out of BYU. Fellow tackle Jake Witt came in the seventh, but nothing was done to shore up a troubling situation at right guard. It’s up to general manager Chris Ballard to find help before Richardson is unleashed in games that count.
He’s not wrong either.
The Colts recently did some heavy lifting through the NFL Draft to address other remaining starting positions that were considered critical holes: quarterback, cornerback, wide receiver, and even offensive tackle depth.
However, rather surprisingly, the franchise has done next to nothing to address the starting right guard spot—which was consistently a major deficiency last season.
New Colts offensive line coach Tony Sparano has already ‘talked up’ 3rd-year guard Will Fries this offseason, who started 9 games for the team last season—and appears to be the early favorite to be the starter along the right side.
However, we saw last season when the Colts penciled in starters did not work out according to plan—namely regarding Matt Pryor at left tackle and Danny Pinter at right guard, and the team lacked the initial depth or quality veteran insurance to adequately supplant them throughout the season (*until arguably late down the stretch).
Who could be this year’s Chris Reed as a hidden or undervalued gem at right guard?
Denver Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner remains a free agent, but he played all 967 of his total snaps last year at left guard—which as we all know, is All-Pro Quenton Nelson’s natural position (*and it may not be an easy transition for Risner to the right side).
As a member of PFWA’s 2019 All-Rookie Team, Risner is still only 27 years old though and makes more sense than some of the older veteran options that may be well past their prime—in their early to mid thirties.
It’s surprising that the Colts haven’t at least kicked the tires yet on Risner or another quality veteran option for that matter at right guard—although there’s still time this offseason.