Colts: One bold prediction about the crowded backfield in Indy

Colts RB Nyheim Hines (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Colts RB Nyheim Hines (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts are likely to run a very pass-happy offense given the addition of Carson Wentz and the tag team of Frank Reich and new offensive coordinator Marcus Brady on the sideline, but that hasn’t stopped Chris Ballard from completely stockpiling an inordinate amount of talent at the running back position.

In addition to a potential starter for a decade in Jonathan Taylor, the Colts have one of the more interesting pass-catching backs in the game in Nyheim Hines, a player who topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage in consecutive seasons in Marlon Mack, and a solid backup in Jordan Wilkins. Even UDFA Deon Jackson has plenty of potential.

If Reich adopts the old coaching philosophy of trying to get the ball into the hands of his best playmakers as often as possible, he could adopt more of a run-centric offense that features Taylor and Mack more prominently.

If he doesn’t, however, the Colts could find themselves with a roster that doesn’t mesh with what the philosophy of the organization is. The Colts might need to trade one of these running backs, with two members of this crowded backfield standing out as the players that Ballard would have the easiest time moving off of.

Will the Colts trade one of their running backs?

In three seasons with Indy, Wilkins has recorded just under 1,000 yards rushing while averaging just under five yards per carry. Those numbers are way too good to be wasting away in fourth place on the depth chart, and the Colts could get either a solid backup or some draft compensation in exchange for him.

Hines played an invaluable role as the main pass-catching running back, but Wilkins has also shown a degree of competency in that area. If the Colts believe that Wilkins can step into that role, Hines could be on the move, as a player with more speed and production could potentially net a higher return.

Taylor isn’t going anywhere, as last year proved he’s one of the best young running backs in football. Meanwhile, Mack’s injury in 2020 could make it hard for a team to be convinced he can return to his old self. If they deal a running back, it won’t be one of those two.

Taylor and Hines will get plenty of run this year, and Mack will get some carries, meaning that Wilkins is the most likely on the chopping block. However, if another back emerges as a pass-catching option, Hines could be sent out of town given his need for a contract after 2021.

Indy has an embarrassment of riches at this position, and they could turn that depth into compensation soon.