Colts' Starters Get Explosive Boost in New Projections

The Indianapolis Colts' starting lineup gets a bit more explosive in 2024, according to
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5), who is out for the season due to injury,
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5), who is out for the season due to injury, / Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY
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The Indianapolis Colts didn't make any groundbreaking moves during the offseason to move the needle. In fact, they were a common subject of ire from fans throughout free agency for failing to add much outside talent of significance.

However, with some opportunistic drafting as well as the benefit of returning injured players, their starting lineup is about to get a bit more explosive according to Gregg Rosenthal of and the Around The NFL podcast.

Rosenthal recently posted his annual offseason projected starting lineups for each team in the NFL. Here is what he had for the Colts:

  • QB: Anthony Richardson
  • RB: Jonathan Taylor
  • WR: Michael Pittman Jr., Adonai Mitchell, Josh Downs
  • TE: Jelani Woods
  • OL: Bernhard Raimann, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Will Fries, Braden Smith

The biggest changes of note on offense are the insertion of rookie Adonai Mitchell as a starter over the incumbent Alec Pierce as well as Jelani Woods at tight end.

"Second-round receiver Adonai Mitchell gets the nod here over Alec Pierce, who has a similar-if-inferior skill set," Rosenthal wrote. "If Mitchell hits, general manager Chris Ballard has finally rebuilt the receiver room past league average."

It's highly likely - more of a matter of when rather than if - Mitchell becomes the other outside starting receiver opposite of Michael Pittman Jr. However, there shouldn't be much urgency by the Colts to make Mitchell a starter. In fact, they like Alec Pierce a great deal. It can be argued that, while he should be a more well-rounded player by now, his lack of production last year was more of him being a victim of circumstance with Gardner Minshew at quarterback and that things should smooth out for Pierce with Richardson in place.

There's also a decent chance that the Colts operate their receiver rotations based more on matchups and gameplan rather than rigid X, Y, Z roles. Regardless, if Mitchell shows out in training camp and looks the part, Pierce is the most likely to lose snaps.

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As for tight end, Woods is the most exposive of the group with the highest ceiling. However, he still has a ways to go before locking down a consistent starting spot. He had a few great flashes as a rookie in 2022 but missed all of 2023 with hamstring issues. Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox are far more established and consistent players, but Woods likely will be the top tight end when he can prove his health and development.

  • DL: Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Laiatu Latu
  • LB: Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed
  • CB: JuJu Brents, Jaylon Jones, Kenny Moore II
  • S: Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross

"It's wild how deep Indianapolis' defensive line is," said Rosenthal. "Laiatu Latu, my favorite defensive player in the draft, completes a terrific starting group. Beyond the starters, the Colts have Samson Ebukam and Dayo Odeyingbo as explosive edge options."

Having the Colts' first-round pick, Laiatu Latu, as a starter isn't surprising to see. If he has a good camp then there isn't much reason not to have him supplant Samson Ebukam in the starting lineup. However, the question is where you play the rookie situationally. Ebukam and Kwity Paye are both solid run defenders from the edge position and while Latu excelled there in college, how well will he hold up as a rookie?

Again, defensive end is a stacked group for the Colts, so there isn't that much urgency to make Latu an every-down player right out of the gate.

Lastly, at safety, Julian Blackmon is a no-brainer starter as one of your biggest defensive playmakers, but the other safety spot is a mystery. If the Colts don't add any other free agents, then Cross, who tested as an incredibly athletic prospect coming into the 2022 draft, is the most logical running mate for Blackmon.

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Jake Arthur


Jake Arthur has covered the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for a decade. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) and FantasyPros' expert panel. He has also contributed to multiple NFL Draft guides.