INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts will observe the NFL’s Week 7 action from the comfort of their couches as they rest on their bye week.
Through six weeks, the Colts (4-2) are in second place in the AFC South division. While there have been moments they’d like to have back, sitting in second keeps them in contention for the division title as they approach a tough back half of the schedule.
They have had several players step up in a big way and help carry the team to success in all three phases of the game. Pro Football Focus has been a fan of what the Colts have done to this point. They earned PFF’s third-best grade as a team (83.3), ranking behind just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (86.5) and Seattle Seahawks (86.3).
As for individual play, here are the Colts who rank among the top-10 players across the NFL at their positions through six games.
Tight end No. 1 (91.2), 168 snaps (42.2%)
11 receptions (14 targets), 194 yards (17.6 avg.), 2 TD
Alie-Cox had a three-game stretch between Weeks 2-4 that made him a star and planted him as the highest-graded Colts player.
With Trey Burton healing up on injured reserve at the time, Alie-Cox became quarterback Philip Rivers’ favorite tight end. Rivers wouldn’t hesitate to toss it up to Alie-Cox in 50-50 situations, as the third-year basketball convert would go up and “get the rebound.”
Already setting a new career high in receptions, receiving yards and tying his high in receiving touchdowns, all 11 of Alie-Cox’s catches have resulted in either a first down or TD.
Alie-Cox leads all NFL tight ends in yards per reception, is third in average yards after catch (8.2), and Rivers has a passer rating of 118.8 when targeting him.
The tight end has also earned quality grades as a blocker, as his 79.1 in pass blocking ranks sixth among all tight ends, and his 77.3 in run blocking is fourth.
Jordan Glasgow, George Odum
Special teamer No. 4 (90.3), 115 ST snaps (71.9%) | Special teamer No. 5 (89.5), 126 ST snaps (78.8%)
Glasgow: 4 tackles
Odum: 5 tackles
Glasgow’s and Odum’s true value is in the amount of special teams units they’re able to contribute to at a high level. They’re full-time players on kickoff return, kickoff coverage, punt return, punt coverage, and field-goal block units.
Odum and Glasgow rank first and second respectively on the team in special teams tackles, and are tied for fifth and eighth across the league. Neither has been docked for any missed tackles.
Defensive lineman No. 9 (83.8), 313 snaps (83.2%)
28 tackles (4 for loss), 2.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 13 QB hits, 1 safety
The Colts believe the three-technique tackle position is the driving force behind their defense, and it appears they won’t regret a penny of the money or any of the draft capital they spent to acquire Buckner to fill that role this offseason.
In the league’s third-ranked defense, Buckner has been its engine. When he’s been successful, it’s had an effect on the entire unit.
Buckner is fourth in the league among interior linemen in pass-rush grade with an 89.5, trailing just the Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones (91.7), Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald (90.8), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Vita Vea (90.3).
Buckner ranks tied for third in pressures on the quarterback (22), including first in hits (10). He is also second in “stops,” which PFF considers a play forced as a failure against the offense.
Linebacker No. 5 (81.6), 189 snaps (50.3%)
27 tackles (2 for loss), 2 PBU
The Colts have missed the leader of their defense for the last couple of weeks as he’s nursed a groin injury, but he has still clearly left his mark in the four games in which he’s appeared.
Leonard is one of just 26 linebackers who has missed two or fewer tackles, but he’s played more snaps than 12 of them.
Perhaps most impressive about his current grade is that he’s reached it without filling-up the stat sheet in his typical manner, showing that he can still affect the game without splash plays. PFF credits Leonard with 11 stops, and he’s allowed a passer rating of 78.1, which is good for 13th among all linebackers.
Look out for a big second half of the season with Leonard healthy, as he’s yet to record a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, or interception, all of which he’s never gone a season without.
Cornerback No. 9 (80.7), 322 snaps (85.6%)
12 tackles, 2 INT, 8 PBU, 1 TD
The Colts have hit their free-agent signing of Rhodes out of the park.
Hoping for a revitalization of his career, the Colts signed Rhodes to a one-year, $3 million deal for a cornerback who was once one of the NFL’s best. Rhodes has been much closer to his 2017 All-Pro version (72.4) than the 2019 version (47.9) that had Vikings fans wondering what was going on.
Since Week 2, Rhodes is allowing a completion percentage of just 34.6% when targeted (9-of-26) and is allowing a passer rating of 48.2. He currently ranks tied for fourth in the NFL in pass breakups.
The highlight so far was in Week 3, when he started off the game with a 44-yard pick-six against the Jets and then had another INT in the end zone shortly thereafter, saving a TD.
Kickoff returner No. 1 (80.1), 51 ST snaps (31.9%)
8 kickoff returns. 293 yards (36.6 avg.), 1 TD, 1 punt return, 12 yards
It didn’t take long for the Colts rookie, who led the NCAA in kickoff returns in 2019, to make his mark as a return man in the NFL. In Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns with the Colts down by 17 points and desperately needing a spark, Rodgers returned a kickoff 101 yards for his first NFL TD.
Rodgers is tops in the league in kickoff return average and No. 1 in PFF kickoff return grade.
Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski
Guard No. 7 (77.8), 391 snaps (98.2%) | Center No. 5 (76.6), 391 snaps (98.2%) | Guard No. 9 (75.7), 398 snaps (100%)
While PFF has yet to be impressed by the exterior of the Colts offensive line, the interior is a far different story.
Nelson, Kelly, and Glowinski all grade among the top-15 interior linemen in the NFL, and Glowinski is on pace for the best season of his career.
Glowinski has some work to do in pass protection after allowing 14 pressures through the first six games (Nelson and Kelly both have three), but the trio is doing an excellent job in run blocking.
When the Colts have run inside, they’ve gained 330 rushing yards on 85 carries (3.9 avg.) with two TDs, 19 first downs, and nine runs of 10-plus yards.
Running back No. 10 (76.7), 53 snaps (13.3%)
29 carries, 94 yards (3.2 avg.), 2 receptions (3 targets), 22 yards (11.0 avg.)
Seemingly the Colts’ most efficient tailback year after year, Wilkins finds himself as their top-graded through six weeks.
Of the nine NFL running backs that rank above him, he easily has the least carries, but just three of them are averaging more yards after contact per carry than Wilkins (3.45), and just five have forced more missed tackles (11).
Safety No. 10 (74.1), 274 snaps (72.9%)
10 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBU
The NFL’s 10th-graded safety is also its No. 1 rookie defensive back. Blackmon, who recovered from a torn ACL suffered less than a year ago, was thrown into the fire as a rookie starter after Malik Hooker suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 2.
Blackmon’s instincts and football IQ are evident throughout each game, as he quickly diagnoses what’s happening and flies to the ball. Both of his INTs have essentially been game-sealers, in which he is also tied for the rookie lead in that category. Blackmon also ranks second in opponent passer rating when targeted (44.8) and has allowed a whopping -1 yard after the catch.
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(Jake Arthur has covered the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for nearly a decade and is a contributor for the team's official website, Colts.com. He’s on Twitter and Facebook @JakeArthurNFL, and his email is email@example.com.)