Indianapolis Colts' General Manager Chris Ballard has put together one of the league's deepest rosters in his four years in role. With a deeper roster though, comes some tough decisions in the preseason. In this new series for the site, I will be looking at a few key positional battles that will take place in Training Camp this year.
The focus for today's Training Camp battle piece is on the safety position. The Colts have two top young safeties in Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis but there are major questions behind them going into camp. Let's take a look at the five safeties vying for the final two or three spots at this position.
The most likely candidate to make the roster out of this group is three year veteran George Odum. Odum was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. After making the opening day roster, he immediately established himself as one of the top special teams players on the team.
Odum has seen a decline in defensive snaps over the years but he has shown the ability to make plays on that side of the ball. Despite playing less than 25% of the defensive snaps in his career, he has forced three fumbles and has an interception. Where he really shines is on special teams, as he led the NFL in special teams tackles in 2020 and was named a First Team All-Pro.
It's hard to see Odum not making this roster out of training camp this year. He is an elite special teams player who can make some plays when given the opportunity on the defensive side of the ball.
Shawn Davis, Florida (2021 5th Round Pick)
The Colts selected safety Shawn Davis in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Davis was a two year starter for the Gators, and finished his career with 123 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 5 interceptions, and 10 pass deflections. He also graded out as one of the best coverage safeties in college football in 2019 (per PFF).
Davis is a bet on upside, as his 2020 was one to forget. He was ejected from a game early in the season due to an illegal hit and spent some time on the Covid 19 list. After returning to the team, he never quite looked like his 2019 self. His 2020 film was littered with missed tackles and inconsistencies that lead me to think he won't be ready to see defensive snaps as a rookie.
Despite all the negatives I just listed above, there is some reason for optimism with this pick. Davis has excellent traits and can be a standout coverage safety if he can play at his 2019 level again. He may take some time but there is something there with him. I doubt he gets left off this roster with the upside he has.
Sean Davis (recently with the Steelers in 2020)
Not to be confused with the player above, Sean Davis is a veteran safety who is intriguing in this roster battle. Davis is a former second round pick who has spent most of his NFL career with the Steelers. He started 47 games in his first three seasons before being benched when the team acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick. In his career, Davis has totaled 259 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 21 pass deflections, and 5 interceptions.
Davis is intriguing simply because of his athleticism and experience. He is a freaky athlete who has the size to play at either safety spot. His game does have a ton of inconsistencies but he is the third best safety on this roster at the moment. If the Colts truly want to run some more three safety looks in 2021, then keeping Sean Davis makes a lot of sense for the team.
Rolan Milligan (Colts' Covid Opt-out in 2020)
The true wildcard in this battle is Rolan Milligan. Milligan was a surprise roster addition in 2019, and he saw action in 11 of the 16 games. He finished the year with 15 tackles and one QB Hit as a reserve safety and special teams player.
Milligan opting out last season likely hurt his chances to make the roster in 2021. He had a decent year as a depth player in 2019 but the team has since added other players with experience and youth to take his roster spot. He does have an outside chance with a strong camp though, as the coaches do like him a good bit.
Ibraheim Campbell (Colts Practice Squad in 2020)
An interesting player in the mix at safety is veteran Ibraheim Campbell. Campbell is a journeyman safety who is now on his ninth team in just five years. In those five years, Campbell has logged 116 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles.
Campbell has a small chance of making the roster but he is another player with experience in camp. The last time he played meaningful football was in 2019 with the Packers, where he played some dime linebacker. He is a versatile player who can move around a bit but I don't see him making enough noise in camp to make the team.
Final Thoughts + Predictions
To end each of these training camp battle pieces, I will include my way too early prediction for what happens to each player. Obviously, these will change throughout the offseason and some players can out perform my expectation for them.
This group is the most intriguing to me because I don't see a clear cut player in this bunch who can be that third safety in 2021. Training Camp will be huge in deciphering who takes that role because it truly is up for grabs this offseason.
For my predictions, I will say that Shawn Davis (despite my concerns) ends up as the third safety in 2021. George Odum stays on as the fourth safety and special teamer. The other three players end up getting cut after the offseason.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.