"30. Jerrell Freeman, LB2015 team: Indianapolis ColtsFreeman drastically improved his run defense and tackling efficiency in 2015, after having his worst season against the run in 2014. He’s good in coverage, but which player will we see in run defense going forward?65. Dwayne Allen, TE2015 team: Indianapolis Colts2015 was rough for Allen, who had one of the lowest overall grades among tight ends (due largely to his performance as a run blocker) before a season-ending injury. However, good performances in 2014 and 2012 give hope for a bounce back next season for the 25-year-old."
Of course, the Colts would presumably like to have both players return.
However, whether that’s realistic remains to be seen, as each player could be in-line for a lucrative long-term deal that the Colts may not be able to afford.
Set to turn 30 years old in May, Freeman enjoyed yet another productive season in the middle of the Colts defense. He finished second on the team with 112 total tackles, while recording 3 sacks and an interception.
While Freeman has always been highly regarded for his coverage ability, it was actually his run defense that was his calling card this past season.
According to ProFootballFocus, Freeman received a +16.2 grade overall in run defense, which was the 2nd best among all inside linebackers. It played a large role in his +21.4 grade overall, again 2nd best among all inside linebackers.
His Colts counterpart on the list Allen had a down year for his standards. With a struggling offensive line, the 4th-year tight end was called upon extensively to block in order to assist the offense.
It resulted in diminished receiving production for Allen, as he finished with just 16 receptions for 109 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.
According to ProFootballFocus, Allen was one of the worst tight ends in football. Specifically, he finished with a -14.3 grade overall, which was 72nd among 73 qualifiers. Of course, his run blocking grade of -10.8 didn’t necessarily do him any favors.
While it’s unclear why Allen’s blocking game dropped off so much this past season, like the rest of the Colts offense, he clearly struggled.
There’s no reason to panic quite yet though.
Keep in mind that Allen is just one season removed from being ProFootballFocus’ 8th best rated tight end overall with a +8.1 grade overall, accompanied by a +3.3 grade in run blocking.
Still only 25 years old, Allen has the receiving skills and blocking ability to be one of the most dynamic tight ends in football, and the Colts would be wise to lock him up for the long-term.