Colts: Power ranking 5 most important players to Indy’s Super Bowl hopes
By Kristen Wong
If there’s one thing the Colts have, it’s depth.
NFL’s Adam Schein recently ranked the Colts as having the ninth-most complete team in the league, and following the Carson Wentz trade, the Colts are tied for the 10th-best odds to win the Super Bowl. Ninth and 10th place don’t sound great when your team is vying for the championship, but the Colts just might be the Super Bowl sleeper team that wins it all. And it’ll largely come down to these five players.
But first, a few honorable mentions.
The Colts, at heart, are a well-balanced team backed by a strong defense that can play a diverse running game. Last season, they finished ninth in run yards per game due to the stellar performances of Nyheim Hines and rookie Jonathan Taylor.
This year, the Colts’ schedule is hit or miss. Their difficult games could prove to be especially challenging, as the Bucs, Ravens, Bills, and Seahawks have strong quarterback play that could put a lot of pressure on Wentz and Co. But in games where they’re playing less complete teams, the Colts have a big advantage. It’s more than likely that the AFC South title is again going to come down to the wire between the Titans and the Colts, and whichever team fares best against the NFC West will emerge victorious.
All things considered, a first division crown since 2014 – and more – could be in the cards for Indy. These are the five most important players who could take the Colts to the Super Bowl.
5. Darius Leonard
By now, Darius Leonard is a household name and will represent the heart and soul of the Colts’ defense this season. He’s got two All-Pro nods, a Pro Bowl, and was the league’s tackle king as a rookie in 2018. In his three years on the Colts, he’s become one of the best linebackers as well as one of the best defenders in coverage, regardless of position.
In the modern NFL, Leonard reigns from his throne as a new-age linebacker. Light and quick on his feet, he can make plays all over the field, from picking up high-level receivers and tight ends in coverage to going man-on-man with them from the slot.
In 437 snaps in coverage in 2019, Leonard was targeted 74 times, allowing 59 receptions (79.7 percent) for 559 yards and two touchdowns. He allowed 313 yards after the catch and intercepted five passes. And who can forget his pick-six of Jameis Winston in Tampa?
If his stats don’t cut it, he’s also got the mentality of a winner that’s sure to inspire his teammates for a deep postseason run.
In 2020, he designed custom shoes for training camp that featured quotes and criticisms of his character and performances: “The worst pick in the 2018 draft.” “No Pro Bowl.” “Madden ranking of 85 in 2020.” He’s since showed up, to say the least, and no doubt looks forward to disappointing his haters as a crucial cog in the Colt’s defensive machine.