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Reasons to be cautious for the Colts’ next season

NFL: JAN 08 Texans at Colts Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I believe that now is a proper time to cast initial judgements on the state of the Colts’ roster, and an initial outlook for next year. I already outlined the reasons for optimism in a previous article, and will now go over the reasons why caution may be well advised.

1- Secondary

Kenny Moore II, Julius Brents, Dallis Flowers, Darius Rush, Tony Brown. Those are the cornerbacks the Colts have for next season. Isaiah Rodgers Sr. imminent suspension has further depleted what was already the Colts’ weakest position group, and might even be the worst cornerback room in the entire NFL. Kenny struggled last season in Gus Bradley’s scheme, and is just not the same player he once was. I would not have minded watching him leave to the Bears to reunite with Matt Eberflus, but he remains on the team and should be the Colts #1 cornerback this upcoming season. Brents and Rush are both rookie corners who should see the field a lot this season, which is good because they will get playing time to develop, but bad because there is typically a steep learning curve in the position, and they will be exposed perhaps too early in their careers. Dallis Flowers and Tony Brown are special teamers that have no business starting on a team (unless of course said NFL team is purposely trying to suck enough to get a certain wide receiver prospect who is the son of a HoF receiver who played for said team).

2- Rookie quarterback

While we are all excited about Anthony Richardson’s future in the NFL, the present might not be as exciting. Rookie quarterbacks don’t usually perform well during their first season in the league. Most recently we have witnessed struggles from Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, to name a few. Of course there are exceptions, like Justin Herbert. but usually it takes a bit for QBs to adjust their game to the league. Lamar and Mahomes won the MVP award their second year in the NFL, so at least that is exciting.

3- Offensive line depth

Last year, Ballard rolled the dice and entered the season with Matt Pryor and Danny Pinter as starters on the offensive line, with no reliable backups, and we know how that finished, with the near demise of quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Nick Foles. Going into next season, the left tackle spot seems sorted with Bernard Raimann, who was among the best left tackles in the NFL the last 7 weeks of the season, but Will Fries is slated to start at right guard, and he does not leave me particularly confident in the position. Thing is, I can live with Fries there, but I can’t live with Blake Freeland (rookie 4th round pick), Arlington Hambright (sick name, don’t know about his game), Wesley French (UDFA last year), Danny Pinter (not exciting last season), and Jake Witt (rookie 7th round pick) as the backups. If a single starter goes down, it could all go bad so fast.

4- Lack of proven pass-rushers

Pass-rushers are key in today’s day NFL, and the simple truth is that the Colts lack a proven edge rusher. Sure, there is potential with Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo, but so far there is no guy that has over 6 sacks in a single season. While Ngakoue was a tad overrated in my opinion, he did bring a certain consistency in the sacks department. Ebukam is mostly a run-defense specialist, and it is hard judging him when he played on San Fran’s defensive line, and then there is not much to write home about.

5- Shaq Leonard’s health

Shaq Leonard, when healthy, is the heart and soul of the defense. An All-Pro caliber player who has a nose for the football, and is the undisputed leader of the team, but he missed all but three games last season. His replacement, Bobby Okereke has left for the Giants, so if Shaq were to miss a few games this season then it would be up to Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed to carry the load.