Colts: What Positions Still Need to be Addressed?
By Evan Reller
The Indianapolis Colts made headlines in free agency last week by signing a number of big name players. While they managed to fill a number of holes, the Colts still have some positions to address.
While the team got older with a majority of their signings, it doesn’t make those deals any less valid. Yes, they may have 2010’s Pro Bowl on the roster but those players have proven they can produce.
Andre Johnson addresses the need for a possession receiver to replace Reggie Wayne. Johnson, 33, also serves as a veteran presence for a very young receiving unit (the projected starters are 25, 21, and 23).
Frank Gore gives the team a productive running back, albeit one whose better days are likely behind him. He’s still the kind of back that the team hasn’t had since Edgerrin James.
Trent Cole will help bolster the team’s pass rush and add some injury insurance.
So what do the Colts still need to address?
The Colts let Cory Redding walk this past week. He was the team’s most disruptive defensive lineman and the emotional heart of the defense with Robert Mathis out for the season. Kendall Langford won’t be much more than a rotational player on the line.
The biggest need on this line is a defensive tackle to anchor the middle of the line. It is one of the more difficult positions to fill in the NFL and is crucial for the success of a 3-4 scheme especially when it comes to stopping the run.
While it appeared that the Colts were in the market for a big name defensive lineman, recent reports indicate they won’t be going after the available tackles. Mike Wells of ESPN thinks the team is happy with the players currently on the roster.
"As far as defensive tackle goes, it turns out that the Colts are optimistic about Zach Kerr, Montori Hughes and Kelcy Quarles at that position. So that’s why they didn’t pursue Terrance Knighton, who signed with Washington on Thursday. Former New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is still without a team and you have to believe Frank Gore and Andre Johnson will try to recruit him to Indianapolis."
The combination of Kerr, Hughes, and Quarles don’t exactly inspire confidence. The three combined for just 510 snaps last season. Noticeably absent from that list is Josh Chapman who started most of last season at nose tackle. This could also just be the list of backups who will push Chapman for the starting spot.
Regardless, this is still an area of concern for the team as all four of these players underwhelmed last season. Chapman was the only player who showed something against the run, but was so bad when team’s dropped back to pass he’s basically one-dimensional.
As noted before, Wilfork is still available and is interested in the Colts. (Update: Wilfork has signed with the Texans)
The Colts handled their in-house business by re-signing Mike Adams to a two-year deal. But besides him, the team doesn’t have a starting caliber safety on the roster. Colts Anderson was re-signed, and while he’s a great special teamer, he isn’t a starter on defense.
Other safeties on the roster include Winston Guy and Dewey McDonald. Not exactly awe inspiring. Adams himself could be an issue as well since he’ll be 34 before the end of the month.
The free agent market is awfully thin as well. According to Bill Polian at ESPN, the best safeties still on the market include players like Stevie Brown, Brandon Meriweather, and Dwight Lowery.
The best option for the team is to look to the draft for the safety of the future. The obvious name that jumps out is Landon Collins from Alabama.
Collins is easily the best safety in a draft that is thin at that position. The odds that Collins falls to the Colts with the 29th pick are slim. That means Ryan Grigson would have to trade up to get him, a cost that would be well worth it to lock down an important position for the future.
The Colts also let A.Q. Shipley walk last week, and he joined Redding in Arizona. Shipley was easily the team’s best center last season despite being bench after Week 4.
The team will presumably head into the season with Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison as the possible starters at center. Both players struggled to stay healthy in 2014 and neither looked like anything resembling a starter.
The offensive line has been an issue since the team drafted Andrew Luck and he’s rarely had anything resembling solid protection.
The Colts only brought in Shipley in 2014 as a last resort after Harrison and Holmes were injured in the preseason. Todd Herremans was brought in for his run blocking, despite the fact that he’s could be a liability in pass protection and while he can play both tackle and guard, he isn’t a center.
Either the team radically expects different results from the current centers or they are still planning to make a move in free agency or the draft.