Colts Defensive Depth Chart Post Free Agency
By Evan Reller
The Indianapolis Colts are making moves in an effort to improve a roster that is very close to making the Super Bowl.
The Colts haven’t made nearly as many attention grabbing signings on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Yesterday, we took a look at the probable depth chart on offense heading into next season and today we take a look at the defense.
The biggest issue for this team in their past two playoff losses has been stopping the run (although scoring seven points in the AFC Championship Game certainly doesn’t help). They gave up 177 rushing yards to the Patriots and were generally picked apart defensively.
It appears that the Colts will line up Kendall Langford and Arthur Jones at the defensive ends positions and will have Josh Chapman starting at nose tackle. Expect the Colts to use a liberal rotation, however, as only Jones has proven to be an effective starter (albeit with a different team).
The Colts have a number of options on the depth chart as well. Zach Kerr should be backing up Chapman at NT but he’ll have competition for that role. Montori Hughes will be back from injury while Jeris Pendleton and Kelcy Quarles are also in the mix.
Most of the defensive line positions can be seen as interchangeable, with the exception of Kerr and Chapman definitively being nose tackles. This is one of the few positions on the roster that is lacking in true veteran leadership and the Colts seem to be taking a dangerous approach by assuming that mediocre players from last season will improve before next year.
The Colts will likely be looking at defensive line when the draft comes around at the end of April.
It looks like the Colts are going to have some issues at the position this season, much like last year. We don’t know when Robert Mathis will return to the lineup or what kind of player he will be. Jim Irsay recently stated that he might not be back until November.
For now, we’ll look at who starts in Week 1 with Mathis likely sidelined for a bit longer. Erik Walden will retain his starting spot as the strong side linebacker while Trent Cole will fill in on the weak side for the time being.
Whenever he returns, Mathis will slip into the starting role and it will be a toss up as to whether Cole or Walden takes the other starting spot. Behind those three players is where it gets really interesting.
Jonathan Newsome had a very good rookie campaign and will be pressing for snaps in 2015, especially on obvious passing downs.
The odd man out will be Bjoern Werner, who seemed to regress last season. He’ll likely make the roster if Mathis can’t play at the start of the season, but unless he starts producing its hard to imagine him sticking with the team.
The Colts also have Cam Johnson and Daniel Adongo signed for next season. Both have shown flashes of being decent players, but neither has been able to stay healthy.
Its safe to say that there will be a decent amount of competition for the backup spots on the Colts roster during training camp.
This position isn’t going to change. The starters will be Jerrell Freeman and D’Qwell Jackson heading into camp. Freeman has yet to sign his qualifying offer, but its only a matter of time before he does.
I highly doubt that either will lose their starting role, but Nate Irving could potentially push for snaps. He’s a younger version of Jackson and clearly talented enough to be a starter in the NFL.
Henoc Muamba is still on the roster as well but was only on the field for 23 snaps on defense last season. Josh McNary is still technically on the roster, but he’s on the Commissioners Exempt List as he faces rape charges.
This is another position where the Colts can look to the draft to add depth.
The Colts will once again go with the duo of Vontae Davis and Greg Toler this season. Darius Butler will be the nickel corner.
Barring injuries, there won’t be much change from last season at this position. Sheldon Price and Jalil Brown will compete for the fourth cornerback spot. The Colts also recently signed veteran Deveron Carr, but he hasn’t played for a year and was as a special teamer for the Buccaneers.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Colts use a draft pick on a corner to round out the ranks either.
Currently the Colts have Mike Adams starting at safety and a blank hole in the roster. There are few veterans still available, but the need might push the team to pull the trigger on someone soon.
Aside from Adams, the Colts have Colt Anderson, Dewey McDonald, and Winston Guy on the roster. While all three can play on special teams, none of them screams starter (or even whispers it).
With Adams being 34, the Colts should look to the draft to address the position. Although the position is thin this year, there are still a few interesting players the Colts could select.
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