Colts: 3 free agent fits who can bolster the Indianapolis secondary
By Mike Luciano
Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts will have a very busy offseason ahead of them, as they need to use their oodles of cap space in order to build a defense that can complement Carson Wentz and the new-look offense.
Matt Eberflus’ unit might look much different in 2021 due to some impending departures.
While Xavier Rhodes had a rebirth in Indianapolis, he could look to cash in elsewhere.
First-round pick Malik Hooker has proven to be a solid safety given his range in zone coverage, but his injury history means that it is unlikely Indy pays a huge sum of money to secure his services.
Luckily for an Indianapolis secondary that needs to get youngsters like Julian Blackmon and Rock Ya-Sin some extra reinforcements, this free agent class has plenty of star defensive backs. Even if the Colts don’t want to pay top dollar for the best of the best, they could spread their money out in the hopes of attracting multiple new starters.
If the Colts want to spend their money wisely and ensure that the roster is able to potentially take the division title away from the Tennessee Titans, one of these three DBs needs to end up in blue and white.
These 3 defensive backs could help the Colts in 2021.
No. 3: Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
Neal was on track to become one of the best safeties in the league, but some severe injury problems limited him to just four total games during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In the three seasons that he has been healthy, the former Florida Gator has proven that he can still be a tremendous run-stuffer while excelling in coverage.
In every season that Neal has played without a serious injury, he’s recorded at least 100 tackles. Dan Quinn and Raheem Morris used Neal in a variety of ways, as his ability to line up near the line of scrimmage and deliver some huge hits made him a valued commodity. He could fill one of several roles in the Indianapolis defense.
Keanu Neal could be a versatile addition for the Colts
Eberflus’ bread-and-butter scheme features a lot of Cover 2, tasking his safeties with covering a lot of ground in zone coverage. Not only is Neal a quality athlete who can take away big plays, but he has the ability to get downhill and make secure tackles in the open field. That could help the Colts defend the run in a division filled with quality running backs.
Neal might not be the best in man coverage, but he can line up anywhere you ask him to and do at least an average job. Eberflus should have plenty of fun thinking up all sorts of creative and unique defensive formations to highlight Neal’s unique skillset.