Colts: Why has Chris Ballard not improved the tight end position?
By Mike Luciano
Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts are still in the process of somehow trying to both improve their roster while maintaining tons of cap space that will eventually be used to lock up homegrown stars like Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard.
This approach has brought in very few free agents, especially at a key position like tight end that is currently manned by Jack Doyle.
Doyle might’ve been a two-time Pro Bowler in his prime, but he hasn’t totaled 500 yards receiving in a season for the next three seasons after he received the honor. Behind him, Mo Alie-Cox is intriguing, if still a bit raw.
After that, it’s a miasma of career backups and futures contract signings like Jordan Thomas.
New quarterback Carson Wentz needs to have threats over the middle, and Frank Reich’s passing game is much more lethal when there is a quality tight end that can line up either in-line or split out wide and cause matchup problems. On his best day, Doyle is not that type of player.
Ballard’s reluctance to spend money, which has been discussed ad infinitum, has led to the Colts missing out on elite tight ends like Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith this offseason. Ballard needs to do something, as Doyle by himself is simply not a good enough TE1.
The Colts need to get Carson Wentz a tight end.
In 2019, Wentz became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards without having a wide receiver record 500 yards in a season. He did that in an offense that was not only extremely derivative of Reich’s, but featured two of the game’s best tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
While Ertz took a major step backward this season, there is hope that he could reinvigorate himself if he gets a trade out of Philadelphia. Reuniting him with Wentz and Reich could help Ertz regain his confidence while improving Indy’s depth at that position.
While Kyle Pitts is out of the picture, the Colts could potentially target Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, Miami’s Brevin Jordan, or Boston College’s Hunter Long if they want to address the tight end position in the first few rounds of the draft.
Wentz simply can’t function at a high level unless he has a quality tight end to bust the seams in the middle of the field and haul in throws under pressure, and Doyle just isn’t that type of player anymore.
Even if Ballard misses out on some of the top dogs, he needs to make some sort of acquisition, as surrounding Wentz with talent should be priority No. 1.