Last year’s rookies had an uneven campaign for the Colts. They need to step up in a big way in 2020 if they want to be playoff contenders again.
The Colts have made some big weaves in free agency. They have made big moves, including trading for DeForest Buckner and signing Philip Rivers. All the players they signed in free agency will add some value for sure but for this team to get where they want to, last year’s rookies need to step up.
Most of those rookies had rocky rookie years. The first pick the Colts made was on Rock Ya-Sin out of Temple. The young corner showed some flashes of his brilliance but also had horrible lows. His game against the Broncos stands out as perhaps the worst performance from anyone in 2019.
Ya-Sin is going to start next season, probably alongside newly signed Xavier Rhodes. He needs to improve his technique in 2020. The Colts are counting on him being a good press coverage option when the defense does decide to go man-to-man.
Perhaps no one needs to step up more than Parris Campbell, the second-year man out of Ohio State. Campbell is a speedster who was expected to open up the field on offense. Instead, he suffered through an injury-plagued campaign and only caught one touchdown pass.
The receiver room is still very thin for this team. The coaching staff will be counting on Campbell to stay healthy and be productive this season. They need someone other than T.Y. Hilton to be a threat through the air. That will be up to Campbell.
Ben Banogu showed some great flashes as well. He actually played all 16 games as a rookie and showed some great speed off the edge. He only was able to accumulate 2.5 sacks but should get more snaps this season. Banogu will be expected to be a big factor on third downs.
Khari Willis was the most impressive rookie from last year’s draft class. As I wrote when he was drafted, Willis had the talent to supplant Clayton Geathers as a starter. He did just that, starting 9 games in his rookie season. Now he is their starting strong safety of the future.
For all of the good he did last season, including recording 71 tackles in 14 games, he was extremely poor in the last month of the year. His constant miscommunication with the other members of the secondary led to big plays and those led to losses.
Willis and company will have to do better next season. As will Bobby Okereke, who needs to improve in pass coverage after a solid rookie season of stopping the run. He started half of the year and ended the season as a starter as well.
All members of the 2019 class need to improve if this team is to be a factor come January and maybe even February.