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Moore: 2021 Colts' 53-Man Roster Prediction (Version 2.0)

The Colts’ streak of 22 years having an undrafted rookie free agent on the opening day roster comes to an end in this latest 53-man prediction. (Video via Indianapolis Colts YouTube)

The first round of roster cuts for NFL teams takes place on Tuesday, as all teams must have a maximum of 85 players on their active roster.

For the Colts, competition has been fierce in training camp as players battle for roster spots.

The Colts currently have a streak of 22 years where an undrafted rookie free agent has been on the opening 53-man roster. That streak is in danger of ending this year, as general manager Chris Ballard has constructed a very deep roster that will be tough to crack for an undrafted rookie.

With the first cuts on the way, it’s time to forecast what the 53-man roster will be once Week One rolls around.

Offense (25)

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

With Wentz on the mend from foot surgery, Eason and Ehlinger are in a battle to potentially start when the season begins. Look for the Colts to keep three quarterbacks even when Wentz returns as both Eason and Ehlinger have shown promise.

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

The Colts have one of the best backfields in the entire league. Taylor looks to build on his stellar rookie campaign alongside Hines, who continues to be a versatile piece for the offense. With Mack back from an Achilles injury and the dependable Wilkins rounding out the group, this stable is incredibly dangerous.

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

While Hilton is still WR1, Pittman looks to take the next step and emerge as the top receiver for the Colts. Campbell looks to stay healthy for the first time in his career and will have a major role in the offense if he can. The last two spots go to Strachan, who has impressed in camp with his athletic and playmaking ability, and Dulin as he is one of the best gunners on the special teams unit.

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

Doyle is back for his ninth year as the do-everything tight end for the Colts. While Alie-Cox showed some promise in the receiving game last year, look for Granson to be the key threat in the passing game.

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

When fully healthy, the Colts possess one of the best offensive lines in football. Until Fisher can return from his Achilles injury, the Colts will likely turn to either Holden or Tevi to hold down the fort and protect Wentz’s blindside. Early returns on this have caused some concern.

Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (9) — Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart, DeForest Buckner, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu, Antwaun Woods, Taylor Stallworth, Al-Quadin Muhammad (Dayo Odeyingbo on PUP)

A group made up of mostly young players looks to take a jump in 2021 and generate more pressure on the quarterback. With Buckner and Stewart manning the middle, Paye and Lewis look to be the starters on the outside with Turay and Banogu providing some pass-rushing depth. Both have had stellar camps and look to carry that success to the regular season.

Linebackers (6) — Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, E.J. Speed, Matthew Adams, Jordan Glasgow

With Anthony Walker leaving in free agency, Okereke becomes the full-time starter at MIKE next to the All-Pro Leonard. Speed and Franklin will battle for the starting SAM position, but also provide special teams help with Adams and Glasgow.

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

Moore and Rhodes are locked in as two of the starters, but the battle still wages on for CB3. Carrie and Ya-Sin are the current favorites but Tell and Rodgers could surprise if either begins to falter due to play or injury. The play at that third cornerback position remains vital to the success of this defense.

Safeties (4) — Julian Blackmon, Khari Willis, George Odum, Andre Chachere

The Colts love their young safety tandem in Blackmon and Willis, believing they can become a top duo in the league. Odum is an All-Pro on special teams and will continue to be used in that role. Chachere has been a pleasant surprise in camp, making plays at safety and cornerback. His playmaking ability earns him a spot over the Davis’s (Sean and Shawn).

Specialists (3) 

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

No surprises here. Hot Rod keeps the kicking job to go alongside the exceptional Sanchez and Rhodes.

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