The Colts’ roster is strong, but the addition of more depth at key positions will bring the team to the next level and to a successful 2020 season.
The Colts are on the rise following their impressive offseason, at least so far. Many holes in the roster were patched with great moves by the team’s front office and on the surface, it seems that it’ll lead them right back to the top of the conference. However, one of the key components of the offseason is to fill out the roster with serviceable players, something the Colts struggled with as the 2019 season progressed and more players were sent to Injured Reserve. With the draft set to take place in a few weeks (possibly virtually), it’s critical for the Colts to not only plug up the last few holes on the roster but to also increase the depth of the roster at key positions.
The 2019 season saw the Colts lose a huge amount of players to IR due to injury, including 10 starters by Week 17. This played a large role in the 2-7 record posted by the team in their final 9 games; quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s offensive pieces were crumbling around him and the defensive secondary turned to young players who weren’t quite ready to start. Add to that Adam Vinatieri‘s kicking woes (and injury) and you have a pretty flawed campaign.
The Colts need to solidify the wide receiver position; it’s one of the only position groups left that has yet to see any change via the offseason (or draft). In fact, the unit has lost two of its top receivers to free agency, Eric Ebron and Devin Funchess. By the end of the season, outside of TY Hilton, Brissett’s top receiving targets were Marcus Johnson, Dontrelle Inman, and Ross Travis, as well as tight end Mo-Alie Cox (third on the depth chart at the position). Zach Pascal led the team in receiving yards with only 607 on only 41 catches.
It’s clear that Ballard will look to address the receiver position for incoming quarterback Phillip Rivers; his receiving core in LA was drastically better and deeper than that of the Colts. For him and the offense to succeed, the Colts need to increase the depth at the position. The group in Indianapolis has good pieces in Hilton and TE Jack Doyle, as well as youngster Parris Campbell. The main goal for the Colts is to build a solid supporting cast around the two stars in the event that injuries occur.
The framework is there for the team. The deepest position group is now the defensive line, one that had its struggles with serviceable players on the depth chart and was one of the most underperforming units in 2019. Outside of Justin Houston‘s 11 sacks, a number likely to go down in 2020, no defensive lineman notched over 4.5 sacks (Jabaal Sheard). With the additions of DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day, the Colts not only land a star on the line to pair with Houston but also increase the depth at the position with Day. Both Kemoko Turay and Denico Autry missed multiple games, with the latter missing 12. With young players like Turay and Autry, as well as Ben Banogu, the unit is in need of players who can come in and produce at last 5 or 6 sacks, as well as provide another veteran presence to streamline the development of those young players.
In the draft, the Colts can very easily find a young wideout to slide into the depth chart over Pascal and Chester Rogers, both of whom are primarily specialists, not consistent threats on offense. In reality, the Colts only have Hilton and Doyle as consistent performers week to week. Jalen Reagor, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Denzel Mims, among others all provide the potential to slide into the starting lineup opposite of Hilton. The Colts’ main focus in the draft is to find value with every selection. This ensures that the positions in dire need of depth upgrades will get just that, leading to a very successful 2020 campaign.
Even if injuries do occur next season, something that is bound to happen to every team at that, the Colts will be prepared and won’t skip a beat as they compete for a divisional title and a Super Bowl.