Since Chris Ballard took over as the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, the linebacker room has become quite the strength on the defensive side of the football.
It helps that Ballard was able to able to find guys like former Colt Anthony Walker in the fifth round in 2017, and Darius Leonard in the second round in 2018, as well as Bobby Okereke in the third round in 2019.
Though Walker is off to Cleveland to play for the Browns, the Colts remain incredibly strong and deep at linebacker in Matt Eberflus's system. Leonard is due a major pay raise and remains arguably the best off-ball linebacker in the game, while Okereke looks like the next great SAM linebacker for the Colts.
Linebacker remains a strength a key piece of the Colts' Super Bowl chances moving forward.
On the roster: Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams, EJ Speed, Skai Moore, Jordan Glasgow
Pre-Draft need: Low
Leonard was quite the find in 2018, going much higher than the draft community expected. The selection of Leonard led to a lot of scrutiny, including from this writer, but Leonard has become one of two players ever with 400+ tackles and 10+ sacks over their first three seasons.
Okereke eventually took over in 2020 for Walker, allowing the Colts to let the long-time starter walk in free agency. It's a big year for the former Stanford product, who has shown flashes of high-level production opposite Leonard. If he hits completely for the Colts, look out.
Behind those two starters, the Colts have great depth with guys like Matthew Adams (a seventh rounder in 2018), Skai Moore (undrafted in 2018), Jordan Glasgow (sixth rounder in 2020), and Zaire Franklin (seventh rounder in 2018) who all excel on special teams and give the Colts options on defense in case of injury.
In fact, Franklin should elevate into the starting role, replacing Walker in base defense at the MIKE.
It's a big year for EJ Speed too, who needs to figure out his role to stick on this roster moving forward.
Overall, linebacker is in great shape for Indianapolis due to the late-round gems Ballard has found. Being able to hit at that rate late in the draft is seemingly unheard of, especially at linebacker.
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