Evaluating Colts Roster, Post-Draft

What does the Colts' roster look like after a busy offseason including free agency and the draft?
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For those who lack patience, faith, or just wanted more from their team, it took the Indianapolis Colts a while to get satisfactorily involved in the offseason roster grooming.

When free agency began, they mostly focused on re-signing their own players rather than distributing their ample salary cap space to outside playmakers.

After the draft passed, however, concerns about the major roster holes seemed insignificant as the Colts had finally satisfied their needs.

Quarterback? Check. Left tackle? Check. Pass rusher? Check.

Now that we're about to enter one of the biggest lulls of the NFL offseason, what does the Colts' roster look like now?

Sep 23, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) is pressured by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (53) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.

QUARTERBACK

  • Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Morton

Although he's coming off the worst season of his career, the Colts have zero questions about who their starter is in Wentz. However, there is plenty to be curious about behind him.

I originally thought the Colts might opt for a seasoned veteran free agent backup this offseason such as an Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, or Nick Mullens. The reason being, Wentz has had a history of injuries during his career, and both Jacob Eason and Jalen Morton were rookies last year who didn't play. However, the Colts elected to add competition by drafting a seasoned veteran college quarterback in Sam Ehlinger who had 43 starts under his belt at Texas.

The Colts don't have an immediate need at quarterback, but the uncertainty surrounding a potential redemption for Wentz and development from Eason and Ehlinger means they could have a need again next spring.

Jan 3, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs the ball while Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Kobe Williams (31) defends in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium.

RUNNING BACK

  • Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Jet Anderson, Deon Jackson, Benny LeMay

This might just be the deepest position group on the roster, and arguably the NFL's best group of running backs. The only issue here is how to divvy up the snaps.

Second-year star Taylor is clearly in line for a significant share of the backfield after finishing third in the NFL in rushing last year. He was given the opportunity once former 1,000-yard runner Mack went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1.

Now that Mack has returned on a one-year deal, he's likely to be Taylor's primary relief as an early-down back while Hines reprises his role as an offensive weapon who heavily leans on pass-catching. Wilkins is a proven commodity in relief while Anderson and Jackson are intriguing options to steal a roster spot.

Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) tries to avoid Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) after a catch in the second quarter at Bills Stadium.

WIDE RECEIVER

  • T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon, DeMichael Harris, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, J.J. Nelson, Tyler Vaughns, Quartney Davis, Gary Jennings, Tarik Black

The 2021 season may display the changing of the guard at receiver as Hilton — 31 years old and on a one-year deal — returns but may see his snaps and/or targets diminish in favor of younger options like Pittman and Campbell.

Like quarterback, there is no rush to add another primary receiver, but they'll need another next spring given Hilton's age and contract status as well as Campbell's dismal injury history. Even if Campbell goes through 2021 unscathed, we don't yet know if Patmon or Strachan will be ready to take a step forward in the lineup.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox (81) and tight end Jack Doyle (84) celebrate Doyle's touchdown in the third quarter of their game against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. Miami won, 16-12. Miami Dolphins At Indianapolis Colts In Nfl Week 10 At Lucas Oil Stadium In Indianapolis Sunday Nov 10 2019

TIGHT END

  • Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Jordan Thomas, Noah Togiai, Farrod Green, Andrew Vollert

From a performance standpoint, the Colts' tight end group should look just like it has the last couple of years. With Doyle moving the chains and Alie-Cox making tough grabs on 50-50 balls, Granson can fill the role that Trey Burton had last year as the athletic third tight end.

Tight end is one of the slower-acclimating positions for NFL rookies so Granson probably won't have a huge role just yet. However, we could see a big-time player in 2022.

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson (right) guards Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones (left) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • OT — Eric Fisher, Braden Smith, Sam Tevi, Julién Davenport, Will Holden, Carter O'Donnell, Jake Benzinger
  • IOL — Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Chris Reed, Danny Pinter, Joey Hunt, Jake Eldrenkamp, Will Fries

This group has seen some big changes as Anthony Castonzo (retired), Le'Raven Clark, and Chaz Green are all gone and replaced by Fisher, Tevi, and Davenport.

The starting lineup is still a rock-solid group with Nelson, Kelly, Glowinski, and Smith returning as starters. It's unknown when Fisher will be fully recovered from his late-season Achilles injury to take over at left tackle, but Tevi is expected to hold that role until then.

The depth is improved from last season, which became an issue at times. The competition in training camp should be entertaining to see.

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Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws under pressure against Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) during the first half in the AFC Wild Card game at Bills Stadium.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • DE — Kwity Paye, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay, Isaac Rochell, Dayo Odeyingbo, Ben Banogu
  • IDL — DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Antwaun Woods, Taylor Stallworth, Rob Windsor, Kameron Cline, Andrew Brown, Chris Williams

This is another group that's seen drastic changes. They finished with 40 sacks and 71 tackles for loss in 2020 and they had to replace much of that with the offseason departures of Justin Houston and Denico Autry (15.5 sacks and 17 TFL combined).

They appear to have done a nice job doing so, adding Paye and Odeyingbo with their first two draft picks and keeping Lewis, Turay and Banogu around to continue developing.

Buckner and Stewart remain the Colts' starters at tackle (although they have a new backup in Woods) while we'll see new starters on the outside. Youth is likely to be a common theme in the 2021 season.

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) and cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) and free safety Malik Hooker (29) combine to break up a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field.

LINEBACKER

  • Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed, Matthew Adams, Jordan Glasgow, Skai Moore, Malik Jefferson, Isaiah Kaufusi

A familiar face will no longer be roaming the middle of the Colts defense after starting MIKE linebacker Anthony Walker left for the Cleveland Browns in free agency. Okereke is likely to take over that spot in his third year while his former SAM spot is now up for grabs.

Something tells me that Leonard, the three-time All-Pro, is going to remain the starting WILL.

While much of the cast is the same aside from Jefferson and Kaufusi, the SAM and special teams spots will be battles to watch in camp. Speed will be a big name to watch as he could finally claim a consistent defensive role in his third year.

Nov 1, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) runs past Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (32) for a touchdown after making an interception during the fourth quarter at Ford Field.

CORNERBACK

  • Kenny Moore II, Xavier Rhodes, Rock Ya-Sin, T.J. Carrie, Marvell Tell III, Isaiah Rodgers, Andre Chachere, Anthony Chesley, Roderic Teamer, Rolan Milligan (S/CB)

This might be the last year that we see this group of Moore, Rhodes, Ya-Sin, Carrie, and Rodgers "run it back."

Moore is a bonafide star and Rodgers is a dangerous return specialist, but Rhodes and Carrie are both 30 years old and on one-year deals. Ya-Sin has also had an up-and-down two years so far and is facing a pivotal third year. If he doesn't make improvements then he could lose his starting spot at the least, but on the flip side, he could move up a peg and replace Rhodes in 2022.

Tell is a big X-factor. He earned playing time as a rookie in 2019 but opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19. If he continues growing in 2021, he could be in for a bigger role moving forward.

This group feels likely to see a youth injection in 2022 but it appears solid for this season.

Sep 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis (37) intercepts the ball in the first half against the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium.

SAFETY

  • Julian Blackmon, Khari Willis, George Odum, Sean Davis, Shawn Davis, Nick Nelson, Ibraheim Campbell, Rolan Milligan (S/CB)

It's exciting for the Colts to have the young starting duo that they do in Blackmon and Willis. Two years ago, Willis entered the season as Clayton Geathers' backup and eventually outshined the veteran. Last year, Blackmon began the season rehabbing a previous ACL tear and was behind Malik Hooker. However, when Hooker fell victim to a season-ending Achilles injury, Blackmon replaced him with flying colors. Now, it's the dynamic duo together as the starters.

The Colts have a few decent third safety options for sub-packages in both Davises and Odum, but the latter has become an All-Pro special teamer in lieu of a defensive role.

Nov 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Indianapolis Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (3) and Indianapolis Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez (8) after kicking a field goal during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K — Rodrigo Blankenship
  • P — Rigoberto Sanchez
  • LSLuke Rhodes
  • H — Rigoberto Sanchez
  • KR/PR — Isaiah Rodgers/Nyheim Hines

This core group should be untouched going into 2021 unless any injuries were to arrive.

Blankenship finished his rookie season with the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history, and he tied the legendary Adam Vinatieri for the fourth-most points in a season in franchise history. Sanchez and Rhodes have largely been Steady Eddies throughout their career.

The Colts are lucky to have the services of Rodgers and Hines, who are among the league's most dangerous kickoff and punt returners, respectively, and ranked third and seventh in the NFL in their return categories last year.

What do you think about the Colts' roster currently? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!


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