While the offseason isn’t quite over, PFF has provided the Indianapolis Colts with an A- offseason grade, citing the Samson Ebukam free agent signing, but largely pointing towards their large NFL draft class—as the Horseshoe has been fairly quiet otherwise:
Offseason Grade: A-
Samson Ebukam adds yet more talent to an already good defensive front, but the Colts’ offseason was all about the draft. Anthony Richardson represents a swing for the fences at the quarterback position after several seasons of the team trying to play it safe with veterans. Richardson pairs with a new head coach who understands how to tap into quarterback rushing, having just done so in Philadelphia with Jalen Hurts.
The Colts also picked 12 times and made a continuous push to target super athletes with their selections. Blake Freeland at tackle and Adetomiwa Adebawore on the defensive line were among the best athletes in the draft but need polish to make an impact in the NFL. Josh Downs could add a valuable missing skill set to the receiver room given his quickness and production in college.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has a reputation for being frugal in free agency—often passing on the first and second waves for undervalued signings later on. That being said, he did sign Ebukam early to replace veteran Yannick Ngakoue at the edge spot and also made former Rams Pro Bowler Matt Gay the highest paid kicker in NFL history.
Ebukam was similar to Ngakoue in total QB pass pressures last year (43 total QB pressures to 44 respectively), but it’s his run defense that will be a major upgrade to his predecessor (as Ngakoue earned just a +43.7 run defense grade, compared to Ebukam’s +65.5 in 2022).
While the Colts weren’t very good at football last year—especially late in the season, and their overall record clearly reflected that, 4 of those 12 losses were by 3 points or less. Perhaps having an elite NFL kicker could be the winning difference in some of those close games late—which may help to potentially sneak into the playoffs in the lowly AFC South.
However, make no mistake about it, the biggest move of the Colts offseason has and will continue to be selecting Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick, who while he has boom or bust potential, could eventually go full supernova (and landed in an ideal landing spot by being paired with new Indy head coach Shane Steichen).
Beyond that, the Colts did a commendable job of filling in other holes including selecting cornerback Julius Brents in the 2nd round and wideout Josh Downs a round later. The team also did well to add some depth pieces such as Freeland and Adebawore in the mid-rounds.
What may have kept the Colts from an A or A+ grade could be the question mark at starting right guard, where Will Fries is the projected starter—but there doesn’t appear to be experienced depth behind him (although yes, Indy added priority rookie UDFA Emil Ekiyor).