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Evaluating the Colts' 90-Man Roster: Offense

The Indianapolis Colts' roster is basically set prior to the start of Training Camp. How does this roster stack up with the rest of the league? Let's break down the offense to find out.

Indianapolis Colts' General Manager Chris Ballard has had a busy offseason in 2022, as he has revamped quite a few positional groups heading into the new year. Known for traditionally building strong rosters, there is plenty to like about the team he has assembled for this upcoming season.

With the team mostly set prior to the start of Training Camp, how does this offense stack up heading into the year? Today, I go position by position to analyze the offense and see just where the strengths and weaknesses of this team truly lie.

Quarterback (4): Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger, Jack Coan (R)

Matt Ryan Indianapolis Colts Over/Under Touchdown Passes

Starting off this list is the quarterback position, which appears to have improved drastically from a year ago. The Colts ultimately moved on from Carson Wentz after a volatile 2021 season, and they found the perfect replacement in Matt Ryan.

Ryan, 37, is a former MVP that is in the twilight years of his successful career. If the Colts can get 2-3 solid seasons of play from him, that may be enough to push this roster over the top. Locked in behind him is former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who the Colts signed earlier this week. He is an exceptional backup to have for a team that is currently in win-now mode.

At the bottom of the roster is Sam Ehlinger and Jack Coan. Both players are likely battling it out for a spot on the practice squad in 2022, but a case could be made for them to be kept as the QB3 with a strong preseason. Both players have an uphill battle, but I wouldn't completely count them out just yet.

Running Back (7): Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Philip Lindsay, Ty'Son Williams, Deon Jackson, CJ Verdell (R), D'Vonte Price (R)

Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (56) lifts Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) after he scores a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to tie the game Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Colts' running back room may be one of the deeper groups in the league. Led by 2021 First Team All-Pro Jonathan Taylor, this position is deep and highly productive. Taylor, along with Nyheim Hines, are the roster locks that will get a majority of the touches out of the backfield in 2022.

Behind the top two players, things get a little bit more interesting. The player with a leg up on the RB3 role at the moment is veteran Philip Lindsay. He is coming off of a down year last season, but he is a former 1,000 yard back in the league. Ty'Son Williams is also intriguing as a player that averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a rookie last year.

2021 UDFA Deon Jackson is also a name to watch, as he was on the Colts' active roster for parts of last season. The Colts love his upside and his ability on special teams. The two rookie UDFA's, CJ Verdell and D'Vonte Price, have very outside shots of making the team if they can string together some strong practices.

Wide Receiver (12): Michael Pittman Jr, Alec Pierce (R), Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, Michael Strachan, DeMichael Harris, Keke Coutee, Michael Young Jr (R), Samson Nacua (R), Ethan Fernea (R), Kekoa Crawford (R)

Oct 24, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) dives into the end zone during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Now we are on to the biggest question mark on the roster. While the Colts did spend their highest pick in this past draft on a receiver, the position still has more questions than answers at the moment. Leading the way in the group is Michael Pittman Jr, who is coming off of his first 1,000 yard season in 2021.

Rookie Alec Pierce should be the starter opposite of him early in his career. Then, after that, it is a bit dicey. Parris Campbell is the current number three option in what is essentially a make-or-break season for the young wideout. After that is special teams ace (and surprisingly good receiver) Ashton Dulin.

After the top four comes quite a few development players. Former day three selections Dezmon Patmon and Michael Strachan have to take that next step forward if they hope to make the team in 2022. Athletic slot players DeMichael Harris and Keke Coutee also have a shot at making the team, if they can prove their worth in the preseason.

The other four players that are behind this top seven are likely to be just camp bodies with an outside shot of making the team. One could certainly impress in the offseason, but it is unlikely they do enough to make the opening day roster.

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Tight End (6): Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods (R), Alec Ogletree (R), Michael Jacobson, Nikola Kalinic

Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox (81) reaches to keep the ball inside the pylon as he moves past Houston Texans safety Lonnie Johnson (1) and into the end zone for a touchdown Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, during a game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Jenna Watson Poy 2021 025

Could this be the year that the Colts carry four tight ends for an entire season? Given the current depth at the position, I would say that this is highly likely. Veteran Mo Alie-Cox leads this group, as he returned this offseason on a nice three year extension.

Behind him is second year tight end Kylen Granson. Granson spent most of last season in a reserve spot, and he should be ready for a much bigger role in 2022. Rookies Jelani Woods and Alec Ogletree are athletic specimen that could become major parts of the offense down the line with the proper development.

With a top four being that strong, I would say that it is extremely likely that the team rosters four tight ends this season. Jacobson and Kalinic should have a chance to earn a spot on the practice squad this offseason as well.

Tackles (8): Braden Smith, Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann (R), Dennis Kelly, Ryan Van Demark (R), Brandon Kemp, Carter O'Donnell, Jordan Murray

Dec 8, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Braden Smith (72) blocks for Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are surprisingly looking good at the tackle position, after fans and analysts spent a majority of the offseason worried about the group. Braden Smith is locked in as the right tackle, and one of Matt Pryor or Bernhard Raimann will take over at left tackle. In a perfect world Raimann is ready to start in year one, but the Colts should be fine at that spot regardless.

Coming in behind them is a quality depth player in Dennis Kelly, who spent last season with the Green Bay Packers. He should be locked in as the backup right tackle for 2022. UDFA Ryan Van Demark received a monster deal from the Colts to come to Indy, so his offseason should be monitored closely by the team.

Kemp, O'Donnell, and Murray are prime practice squad candidates behind the top five. If one of them can showcase tackle-guard versatility, it would only help their chances of sticking around.

Guard (4): Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, Will Fries, Josh Seltzner (R)

Sep 26, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson (56) leaves the field at half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.

One area that could probably use a little bit more help is the guard position. Quenton Nelson is a perennial All-Pro that will likely see a big extension coming his way in the next couple of weeks. The presumed starter on the opposite side will be Danny Pinter, who is making the jump from center to guard this year.

A darkhorse candidate for the right guard job could be Will Fries. The coaches are sky high on his progress and he will be counted on to at least play the Chris Reed role in 2022. Behind them is UDFA Josh Seltzner, who does have an outside shot of making the roster with how light the position group is at the moment.

Center (2): Ryan Kelly, Wesley French

Nov 21, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly (78) and quarterback Carson Wentz (2) in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

There isn't too much to discuss with this positional group, as the Colts are also quite light at the center spot. Pro Bowler Ryan Kelly is the starter, and he hopes to bounce back from a difficult 2021 season. UDFA Wesley French certainly has a shot to make the opening day roster with a strong camp, given that he is the only other center currently on the roster.


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