While the Indianapolis Colts have one of the top franchise quarterbacks in football, the team is only ranked 25th in ESPN Insider’s NFL Future Power Rankings–coming in last at 4th in the AFC South.
The ranking projects which franchises are in the best shape for the next 3 seasons by ranking 5 categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office, and coaching on a scale of 0-100.
After averaging individual categories from the 5 ESPN panelists, each of the 5 categories was weighted in order to calculate an overall score: roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent).
Here’s the overall breakdown for the Colts:
"25. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS2015 record: 8-8 (2nd in AFC South)AFC South future rank: 4thHigh point: The Colts transitioned from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck under center (albeit with a 2011 season in between during which Manning was injured), an excellent fortune for the franchise. Luck had an injury-riddled and inconsistent season in 2015, but there is no debating that he is one of the best young quarterbacks in football. He’s just 26 years old and has a litany of skills that simply cannot be taught. — Field YatesLow point: Ryan Grigson got handed the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, his first year as GM, with a once-and-a-generation prospect (Luck) as the obvious selection. Later in that draft the Colts snagged electric playmaker T.Y. Hilton in the third round. But since then, there have been colossal misses both in the draft (Bjoern Werner) and in the veteran player acquisition market (Trent Richardson). Furthermore, the working relationship between the front office and coaching staff has been less than ideal in the past, and with the same principals in place going forward, optimism is not at an all-time high in Indy. —Louis RiddickWhat could change: The Colts extended coach Chuck Pagano and Grigson through the 2019 season. The offensive foundation appears set with Luck, Hilton, Ryan Kelly, Dwayne Allen and Anthony Castonzo signed through 2019, as well. The big changes will be coming on defense and special teams as Adam Vinatieri (43), Robert Mathis (35), Trent Cole (33) and D’Qwell Jackson (32) near the end. — Mike Sando"
Having selected Ryan Kelly in this 1st round of this year’s draft, as well as with talented young players such as Donte Moncrief and Jack Mewhort, the offense appears to be set for the foreseeable future.
It’s on defense; however, where the team could use an infusion of young talent. Outside of Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis, the defense simply lacks star playmakers.
Impressive, yet rehabbing 2nd-year defensive lineman Henry Anderson has the potential to be a building block for the defense for years to come, and safety Clayton Geathers has shown promise in the secondary.
While team owner Jim Irsay insists that the pair has “kissed and made up”–awarding them both multi-year extensions in the process, the chemistry between the two is something to monitor for the franchise going forward.
With Andrew Luck in the fold, this ranking still seems a little low in my opinion however. The NFL is clearly a quarterback driven game in a league where prolific passing attacks rule–unless a team has a historically dominant defense that is, like the Denver Broncos of last season.
Nevertheless, it shows that Luck can’t cover all of the franchise’s holes going forward even if he is one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL.
Working against the Colts now is that the team no longer has the luxury of signing high-priced free agent veterans to plug holes and shore up their roster with Luck’s record-breaking new deal limiting their salary cap flexibility in the future.
That being said, the Colts have appeared to surround Luck with enough offensively, but it’s on the other side of the football where the team desperately needs some younger playmakers.
Not only do the Colts run the risk of falling behind the rest of the league from an overall talent standpoint, but the AFC South is clearly catching up to the team. Luck and a talented offense is no longer enough without an improved defense.