The Indianapolis Colts got off to a slow start to the offseason, remaining patient and re-signing some of their own players rather than burning through their vast salary cap space.
Since then, however, the Colts have been on fire, adding three major impact players in Matt Ryan, Yannick Ngakoue, and Stephon Gilmore as well as several other important role players.
Taking all of their moves this offseason into account, here are 10 players who have been the most affected.
QB Sam Ehlinger
Ehlinger may be a backup quarterback but the Colts showed their confidence in him this offseason. They didn't add a veteran backup in free agency and they didn't draft a backup or heir apparent for starter Matt Ryan. The Colts had plenty of opportunities to add behind Ryan, as top prospects Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Sam Howell, and Carson Strong were all on the board for multiple Colts picks. They did, however, reportedly sign Notre Dame's Jack Coan as an undrafted free agent, but there's no reason to expect him to threaten Ehlinger's position at this point. The Colts awarded Ehlinger the backup job as a sixth-round rookie behind the oft-injured Carson Wentz last year, so this offseason just further exemplifies how they feel about Ehlinger.
WR Mike Strachan
Last year, the Colts drafted a physical freak in Strachan. At 6'5", 226 with a RAS score of 9.22, it was easy to see what the Colts liked about him. When training camp arrived, he had highlight plays seemingly every day but had sort of a "redshirt" year as a rookie, playing just over 60 snaps. The expectations should be high for Strachan going into Year 2 but the road won't be so easy for a player on the fringe of the roster. The Colts drafted receiver Alec Pierce with their first selection in the NFL Draft last week and also added two other tight ends in the draft in Jelani Woods and Andrew Ogletree. That's three pass-catchers with high expectations added to the roster who could also turn heads on special teams if given the opportunity. If you consider Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin to be pretty safe alongside Michael Pittman Jr. and Pierce, then Strachan has a battle coming up with Dezmon Patmon.
TE Kylen Granson
Granson has a high ceiling as a field-stretching, YAC-producing tight end for the Colts. He was alright last year as a rookie, catching 11 balls for 106 yards, but he plays a position that takes a while to develop. Still, the Colts added Woods and Ogletree in the draft, both of whom they are ecstatic about. Granson should be comfortably considered the Colts' TE2 behind Mo Alie-Cox for now, but while the Colts could very well carry all four of Alie-Cox, Granson, Woods, and Ogletree on the roster, they didn't draft the latter two not to play. Granson needs to produce to keep the younger players off his tail.
OL Matt Pryor, Danny Pinter
Pryor and Pinter play different positions along the offensive line but were affected equally by the Colts drafting lineman Bernhard Raimann in the third round and then signing free agent Dennis Kelly after the draft. The team may want to see if Raimann has a future as their left tackle initially, which would threaten Pryor's starting spot, the other position yet to be fully claimed is right guard, where Pinter is expected to start. The Colts love Raimann's athleticism, attitude and mental approach, and his position flexibility, so he could earn a starting spot at some point as a rookie. Also capable of playing all along the line, Kelly was likely signed for a supporting role as the swing tackle, but there are 114 career games of film for the Colts to know he can start if someone else isn't getting it done.
ED Ben Banogu
The Colts have some talented young players on the defensive line and under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, it could be a fresh start for all of them regardless of the role they cultivated under previous coordinator Matt Eberflus. Banogu is a prime example of this. He flashed some talent and athleticism as a rookie in 2019, had a completely nondescript 2020, and then dominated as a pass rusher in training camp in 2021. It didn't lead to much of a role during the regular season under Eberflus, but might Banogu get a clean slate and earn a role as a situational pass rusher under Bradley? The Colts didn't draft any outside pass rushers so it helps give Banogu more of an opportunity.
DT Chris Williams
The Colts elected not to re-sign reserve defensive tackles Taylor Stallworth and Antwaun Woods this offseason, and also didn't sign any significant free agents at the position. That put Williams in perfect position to earn a spot as the team's third tackle, and then the draft happened. The Colts picked two interior defenders on Day 3 of the draft in Eric Johnson and Curtis Brooks, both being highly athletic players with quite a bit of upside. Johnson may take a little while to develop but Brooks could earn snaps quickly. Williams could continue to get even better but he's got stiff competition now.
LB Bobby Okereke
While the Colts appear to be all set at linebacker in 2022 with Okereke, Darius Leonard, Zaire Franklin, and E.J. Speed, some analysts thought linebacker would be a darkhorse position that the Colts could select early in the draft. With Okereke being a free agent next offseason, it would've made sense, especially since the Colts drafted Okereke in 2019, who replaced his predecessor Anthony Walker under the same circumstances. With the Colts not making any notable moves, Okereke doesn't face any real threat for his spot this year or next (if re-signed).
S Khari Willis, Rodney McLeod
Both Colts starting safeties Julian Blackmon and Willis dealt with injuries in 2021, missing a combined 17 games. Blackmon suffered a season-ending Achilles injury just one year removed from returning from an ACL tear. Willis hasn't played a full season yet in three years. The big difference is that Blackmon has regularly played like a stud while on the field. Willis is coming off of a season where he didn't look like himself, allowing an opponent passer rating of 115.6 and posting a career-low grade of 60.3, per Pro Football Focus. This offseason, the Colts added three highly talented safeties in McLeod, Armani Watts, and rookie Nick Cross. Watts is most likely in for a special teams role while McLeod looked like he could steal a starting spot if either Blackmon or Willis got hurt again. However, the Colts then traded up in the draft to pick Cross, who the draft room emphatically agreed upon selecting. At face value, Blackmon and Willis will remain the starters to begin the season, but both Cross and McLeod are a threat to replace either player if they get injured once again. Willis is entering a contract year, so Cross could be his long-term replacement alongside Blackmon.
What do you think of the Colts roster currently? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!