The Indianapolis Colts weren’t represented much in the 2010s All-Decade team, but there are some who could make it in the 2020s.
It was a rough finish to the decade for the Indianapolis Colts, a decade that featured Peyton Manning moving on to the Denver Broncos, new hope arriving in Andrew Luck, and Luck retiring last fall before the season started. It’s fair to say that the fans are ready for a new decade.
Speaking of decades, the Pro Football Hall of Fame released their “team of the decade” for the 2010s, featuring a great number of players who will see their names in Canton some day. Only one player who played (briefly) with the Colts made the list, running back Frank Gore.
As we move on to a new decade, there’s hope for an era similar to the one Manning had in Indianapolis. Could Indianapolis see more players on the 2020s All-Decade team? Let’s look at three who could make the list.
This seems like the easy choice from the Colts right now. Quenton Nelson received high praise when he entered the NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, and was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft. It only took one season before Nelson was mentioned among the current greats in the league. In 2018, Nelson started all 16 games, was elected to the all-rookie team and earned the honors of a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selection. It was a repeat performance in 2019, as Nelson once again made it to the Pro Bowl and was an All-Pro selection to the first team.
He already looks like the best guard in the league, and it’s easy to see him continuing this performance for another decade as a centerpiece of the Indianapolis Colts, and earn a space on the 2020 decade team.
This is a bit more of a projection, especially since DeForest Buckner has spent a good chunk of his career in the NFL before the turn of the decade. Buckner was recently acquired by the Colts in exchange for the 13 overall pick in the draft.
The good news is that Buckner is only 26 years old, and has his best football ahead of him. He amassed 28.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss in his four seasons with the 49ers, and there are high expectations for Buckner to be the driving force on this defensive line, especially since he was just that during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run.
If things work out during his deal with the Colts, and he puts up numbers in between that of his last two seasons, there’s a good chance, at 30 years old, he’s brought back for another couple of seasons. Six seasons of productive football on the interior could land him a spot.
Another name from the 2018 draft, linebacker Darius Leonard was thought of as a surprising pick, mostly because he was very raw at the position. It was clearly the right move by Chris Ballard, as Leonard went on to have an outstanding rookie season. In 15 starts in 2018, he had 162 tackles, seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, two interceptions, eight passes defensed, and four forced fumbles. That insane stat line led to a first team All-Pro selection.
2019 proved to be another good season, as Leonard finished with 121 tackles, five sacks, seven tackles for loss, five picks, and seven passes defensed. Leonard is all over the field for the Colts defense and has had two spectacular seasons under his belt. With Luke Kuechly retiring and Bobby Wagner getting older, Leonard could take over the mantle as the top linebacker in the league. Continued production would lead to an All-Decade pick for the Colts.
There are a couple honorable mentions. One of those is right tackle Braden Smith, another member of that awesome draft class with 29 starts in two seasons. There’s also a chance that the Colts could find him in the 2020 NFL Draft, or in the coming seasons. Time will tell.