2022 record · 4-12-1
RB · Year 4
There are cases to be made for DeForest Buckner on defense or possibly Quenton Nelson on offense. But Taylor is arguably one of the two or three best backs in football, and his value to the Colts was made clear in 2022, when a Week 4 ankle injury helped start the ball rolling on a nightmare season. With Indy expected to make a major change at quarterback, having such a typically reliable playmaker in the backfield seems critical.
No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson has all the physical tools to be a great QB in time, but there are holes in his game. If opponents need to worry about Taylor as a run threat, as well as his improved skill as a pass catcher, that will theoretically make Richardson’s life easier whenever he’s inserted into the lineup.
Taylor appears poised for a bounce-back season — the Colts’ ability to play at a respectable level once again might hinge on Taylor following through.
It’s hard to argue too much with the choice.
With top rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson behind center, the Colts are expected to lean heavily on Taylor and the ground game to ease his initial transition to the pro ranks. Richardson’s dynamic rushing ability and upgraded arm strength over his aged predecessor, Matt Ryan, should also make the Colts difficult to stop in RPOs by opposing defenses and open up rushing lanes and space for #28 to gash them on the ground.
While Taylor was limited by a bothersome ankle injury last year, the former NFL First-Team All-Pro is just a year removed from a season in which he rushed for 1,811 rushing yards and 18 total rushing touchdowns on 332 total carries. During that insanely productive season, Taylor was at one point considered a bona fide NFL MVP candidate before the Colts collapsed late in the season—although through no fault of Taylor’s own individual play.
As far as other Colts candidates are concerned, DeForest Buckner has arguably been consistently the franchise’s best player over the past few years. He’s avoided serious injury and routinely been a difference maker in the interior of the team’s defensive line.
However, I do wonder if Shaquille Leonard could ultimately be a better choice than Taylor here.
The lingering question is the Maniac’s ongoing health and rehabilitation though, recovering from a second back surgery in as many offseasons. The Colts defense looks and hits different with the former 4x NFL All-Pro linebacker flying around sideline-to-sideline and making plays—including his patented punch-outs for forced fumbles.
At this point though, it’s much more likely that Taylor is fully healthy for the upcoming 2023 season than Leonard, whose ongoing status for the Colts remains uncertain. So in that sense, Taylor appears to be a much safer pick to reach the intended outcome as team MVP.