Arthur: 2021 Colts' 53-Man Roster Prediction (Version 1.0)

Which players might make the cut as the Colts shrink their roster down to 53 players from the current group of 90?
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We've reached the biggest lull of the NFL calendar, that stretch of time in between OTAs in May and training camp near the end of July.

Now is the perfect time for evaluation and reflection, and with that Horseshoe Huddle is diving into our assessments of the Indianapolis Colts roster as our analysts predict which players will make the cut as the team whittles down its roster from 90 players to 53.

If you didn't catch deputy editor Josh Carney's predictions last week, check them out here.

Without further ado, here is my 53-man roster prediction.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3) — Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger

There's not much to see here. We know who the starting quarterback is in Wentz, but with his injury history and the other three players currently on the roster having zero NFL regular-season snaps to their name, carrying three of the four would be a wise idea.

Eason and Ehlinger look primed for a battle for the backup spot while the other wears street clothes on Sundays. Jalen Morton could be a nice story to play well in the preseason but it looks like a two-horse race behind Wentz as things currently stand.

Running Backs (4) — Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins

The Colts are stacked at running back  with PFF recently declaring them the NFL's second-best backfield — so they carry four players onto the roster who have all been there and done that.

Taylor was third in the NFL in rushing yards last year as a rookie with 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns. Mack ran for 1,091 yards and 8 touchdowns the year before that. Hines compiled the most receptions by a Colts running back (170) within their first three seasons, and Wilkins ranked in the top two of the NFL in rushing yards per carry in both 2018 (5.6) and 2019 (6.0).

Wide Receiver (6) — T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon, Mike Strachan

This was a tough one behind Hilton, Pittman, Campbell, and Pascal, who are all essentially locks. Do they keep DeMichael Harris and Ashton Dulin, who have seen snaps for them before, or do they trust the development of their youth?

They go with the latter in this scenario. Patmon was already with the team on the active roster for all of his 2020 rookie season, although he was active for just one game. The natural expectation should be that he now works toward making the roster again and being active on gameday more often.

As for Strachan, the Colts have already shown a decent amount of belief in the 6'5", 226-pound wideout despite being a small-school prospect. He could be this year's Patmon, who makes the roster but isn't consistently active on gamedays.

Tight Ends (3) — Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson

I could see the Colts going with four tight ends here with either Noah Togiai or Jordan Thomas as the fourth, but it doesn't seem necessary.

As long as the rookie Granson develops at a respectable pace, the Colts should be able to continue what they had last year with Doyle and Alie-Cox dominating the snaps while Granson comes into the Trey Burton role to be a bit of a mismatch for a handful of snaps per game as the third tight end.

Offensive Linemen (9) — Sam Tevi, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith, Will Holden, Chris Reed, Danny Pinter, Will Fries, Eric Fisher (reserve)

The X-factor here is Fisher, who is unquestionably the Colts' left tackle this season but must first be fully recovered from an Achilles injury. Because of that, he could start the season on a reserve list.

Outside of that, we know Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski, and Smith are the real deal as the other four starters. Tevi and Holden appear primed to duke it out at left tackle until Fisher returns, although the talk from the Colts has been mostly about Tevi this offseason.

Reed is an intriguing interior depth option who seems like a capable starter if needed, and Pinter and Fries provide youthful depth as guys who can play inside and out.

May 27, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Tyquan Lewis (94) works out during Indianapolis Colts OTAs.

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Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (10) — Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Antwaun Woods, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Isaac Rochell, Dayo Odeyingbo

There are only three true defensive tackles in this group, which I did struggle with, but the Colts have a lot of flexibility to play some of their bigger ends inside on certain downs. Paye, Lewis, Rochell, and Odeyingbo are all ends who may see snaps inside.

Paye seems to be plugged in as the starting right end already while left end might just be Lewis' job to lose. There's no mystery about the interior pair of Buckner and Stewart.

With a (hopefully) healthy Turay, the Colts get an athletic speed rusher in their second wave of linemen while Muhammad and Rochell provide reliable veteran depth. The Colts have made it known how strongly they feel about the rookie second-round pick Odeyingbo, who nudges Ben Banogu off the island for this defensive end spot.

Linebackers (5) — Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed, Jordan Glasgow

The intrigue begins after Leonard and Okereke.

The Colts need a new starting SAM linebacker, and Franklin and Matthew Adams make sense as guys who have started for the Colts previously. However, Adams' snaps have dwindled over the years, and a young guy like Speed could take the next step and finally grab the reins on the position. A linebacker trio of Leonard, Okereke, and Speed would give the Colts an incredibly athletic middle to their defense.

The Colts love linebackers and use them heavily on special teams, but Adams, Skai Moore, Malik Jefferson, and Isaiah Kaufusi were all expendable when making decisions at other positions.

Cornerbacks (6) — Kenny Moore II, Xavier Rhodes, Rock Ya-Sin, T.J. Carrie, Marvell Tell III, Isaiah Rodgers

Moore and Rhodes are locks while Ya-Sin and Rodgers feel safe (though Ya-Sin's starting spot isn't). How Tell performs in training camp and the preseason could allow the Colts to feel comfortable enough moving on from Carrie, but I have them bringing back the whole bunch here.

This competition feels more like guys earning snaps over the others rather than stealing roster spots over them.

Safeties (5) — Julian Blackmon, Khari Willis, Shawn Davis, Sean Davis, George Odum

This is a curious group in terms of its depth. Blackmon and Willis are obviously a couple of young building blocks for the defense, and Odum is an All-Pro special teamer. Do the Colts keep both the Davises?

I say they do in this scenario, as they really seem to like the rookie Shawn while Sean has the veteran experience on both defense and special teams.

Specialists (3)

Kicking Game (3) — K Rodrigo Blankenship, P Rigoberto Sanchez, LS Luke Rhodes

I do think there will be a legitimate competition between Blankenship and Eddy Pineiro for the kicker spot, but Blankenship wins out.

No reason to change this trio of Blankenship, Sanchez, and Rhodes.

Notable Cuts

LB Matthew Adams, DE Ben Banogu, OT Julién Davenport, WR Ashton Dulin, WR DeMichael Harris, DT Taylor Stallworth

Are there any changes you would make? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!


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