Indianapolis Colts: 3 potential first-time starters who need to step up in 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 03: Bobby Okereke #58 (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 03: Bobby Okereke #58 (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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The Indianapolis Colts have chosen to build their roster through the draft rather than free agency, and the true depth of their drafting quality will be tested this season, as several big-name free agents have come off the board without Indy having made a serious run at them.

The Colts have hit some home runs in the draft, including the selections of Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, but their accumulation of draft picks has made it difficult for Day 2 players like Ben Banogu and Kemoko Turay to get any sort of consistent playing time.

That could change this year, as internal promotions might be how Indy makes up the rest of their depth, especially with guys like Anthony Walker leaving and Justin Houston still being unsigned.

If these three young players don’t step up, wrestling the division away from the Tennessee Titans could prove very difficult.

These three Indianapolis Colts need to step up in 2021.

Tyquan Lewis, Indianapolis Colts
HOUSTON, TX – NOVEMBER 21: Tyquan Lewis #94 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

3. DE Tyquan Lewis

Lewis, picked at the end of the 2018 second round out of Ohio State, has recorded just six sacks and 42 tackles in his pro career. Concerns that he is more of a tweener — meaning he’s too slow to play defensive end and too small to move inside to defensive tackle — have been vindicated thanks to his slow start.

Despite the presence of Banogu and Turay, Lewis might be the most likely of the three to get an uptick in playing time, as he is more well-equipped to line up as a 4-3 defensive end than them. The Colts need that breakout campaign to finally be realized.

Tyquan Lewis needs to improve his pass rushing abilities.

Lewis can take up space and stuff the run, but can he take that next step as a pass rusher? He better, because Isaac Rochell and a bunch of flotsam hanging around the bottom of the depth chart aren’t adequate replacements for one of the most consistent defensive linemen in the game in Houston.

Lewis, Turay and Banogu have not performed up to their capabilities, and it’s a virtual certainty that not all of them will be back in 2022, or even the start of the 2021 season. Out of these three, Lewis has the best chance of eventually becoming a quality starter. Time to put up or shut up, and hopefully silence Colts fans who weren’t a fan of this pick.