3 undervalued Colts who will improve in 2022
1. DE Tyquan Lewis
Tyquan Lewis was drafted by the Colts in the second round (64th overall) in the 2018 draft. Normally players drafted in the second round are expected to produce early. Lewis spent the first eight weeks of his rookie season on injured reserve. He returned in Week 9 and finished out the season. However, injuries continued to pile up which limited his production on the field.
In 2019 he played nine games, in 2020 he played all 16, starting four, and last season, eight before suffering a patellar knee injury, one of the most difficult injuries to recover from in the NFL.
Coupled with his limited availability is the fact that the Colts have continued to add depth on the defensive line around him. In his rookie season, he was looking up to the likes of Jabaal Sheard, Margus Hunt, and Denico Autry. His sophomore year, when he was injured again, saw the team bring in Justin Houston and draft Ben Banogu (who could be in the same boat as Lewis this year) in the second round in addition to Sheard, Hunt, and Autry already on the roster.
In 2020, he played the full season but competed for time with Al-Quadin Muhammad, Autry, and Houston. Plus the team traded for DeForest Buckner to anchor the line in the interior. Last season, his fourth year in the league, saw the Colts draft Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo. Coupled with these rookie holdovers, Indianapolis traded for Yannick Ngakoue who will enter training camp as a starting defensive end.
Now entering his fifth season in the NFL, Lewis is running out of time to show he can produce at a high level despite his injury history.
Why will he improve this season?
So why is he a candidate to improve this season? A big reason is because of the change in defensive coordinator. Lewis has only played under Matt Eberflus since entering the league. This season, he gets to play under Gus Bradley, in a new scheme that better fits his skillset.
Another positive for Lewis is that he entered training camp healthy. Lewis was removed from the PUP list ahead of the team’s first official practice of the 2022 season. He has been a standout in training camps the last few seasons but hasn’t been able to continue that into the regular season. He may be able to hit the ground running in 2022.
When Lewis plays he does produce. In his rookie season, he played in eight games, starting six, and recorded two sacks, 13 tackles, and eight QB hits. In comparison, in his third season, where he played the full complement of 16 games, he recorded four sacks, 24 tackles, and six QB hits. Last season in eight games, two starts, he recorded two pass deflections, one interception, 2.5 sacks, 14 tackles, and six QB hits.
Surprisingly enough, Lewis may have less competition in his way to get snaps. Outside of Paye and Ngakoue who are surefire starters, the only other defensive end that could compete for snaps is Odeyingbo who played the latter half of his rookie season after recovering from an injury that lingered from college.
Both players have checkered past with injuries and could be looked at on a similar level. Lewis has four years of NFL experience in his corner. After these two, the talent drops off at the edge position. The inside is solidified with Buckner and Grover Stewart but even these two are backed up by rookies. All of these combined make Lewis a player to watch that can improve the most during this season.