Non-quarterback position groups that Colts must address

The Indianapolis Colts offensive line resets between plays Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis Colts offensive line resets between plays Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. /

Quarterback will be the top priority for the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason but there are several other position groups that need addressing.

For the past few years, Indianapolis has been one position away from being a serious Super Bowl contender, and that position is quarterback. Touting a talented roster and building reserves in the draft, the Colts have opted to find replacement quarterbacks through veteran band-aids rather than drafting a rookie and waiting for him to develop. The strategy is a good one. If the rest of your roster is ready to compete and win now, what’s the point in deploying a rookie to lead the team? However, the teams didn’t work out too much, with only one playoff berth coming since Andrew Luck’s retirement.

Because of the veteran patchwork at quarterback, the roster is getting older, meaning players are considering leaving the game and contracts are expiring. Of course, quarterback is the position this team needs to address first, but the Colts are going to have to acknowledge some other positions of need by either adding, replacing or retaining key players in these position groups.

Colts must fix the offensive line

The offensive line is likely the first position group that needs attention after quarterback is addressed. Quenton Nelson is on his way to his fifth-straight Pro Bowl and remains a dependable foundation piece along that offensive line. Braden Smith remains a steady piece at right tackle and rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann is starting to pick up the pace of the game. However, right guard seems to be a liability. With the cycle of Danny Pinter, Matt Pryor, and Will Fries rotating in and out, Indy may need to use an early selection in the draft or hand a veteran free agent a contract to fill the gap.

Center will also need to be closely looked at. Of course, Ryan Kelly is entering another year of a multi-year contract extension and has long been known to be a pinnacle piece on that line. However, his place has severely regressed and it’s unclear if it’s because he’s trying to help surrounding players cover blocks or if his regression is on a personal level. Look for Indy to explore replacing their longtime center for a cheaper contract or better production.

Colts have to rebuild the depth of the linebacker unit

Another position group that Indy will look at having to add talent at is the linebacker position. The Colts’ best linebacker this year is Zaire Franklin. He’ll be under contract next season as part of his contract extension. Star linebacker Shaq Leonard is expected to be healthy next season after losing the rest of this season with back surgery. However, linebackers E.J. Speed and Bobby Okereke, who contributed heavily to the Colts’ top-ten defense, are on track to be free agents. Indy needs to look now at what they should do to keep those key players. Their production will be difficult to replace.

Indy can always add more receivers

Wide receiver will be another key position that the Colts need to look at. Indy’s wide receivers have surprised most this season. Michael Pittman Jr. continues to impress and establish himself as a number one passing option. Rookie Alec Pierce has certainly exceeded expectations this season as an uber-athletic number two option who flashes number one potential. The surprise of the season has been fourth-year wideout, Parris Campbell. Finally healthy, Campbell has established himself as a dependable option for Matt Ryan and is even favored in certain situations.

Campbell will also be a free agent after the season. Even if Indy is able to resign him, they will still need to bring in a veteran receiver to go alongside Pittman and Pierce too. Drafting a wide receiver may be in the cards, but it seems evident that wide receiver is Indy’s most inexperienced position group.

Strengthen the secondary

Indy is in need of another talented corner and they should look to add one through the draft. Stephon Gilmore has proven this year that he can still be a number-one corner. With that said, Indy has given him no reason to stay beyond the second and final year of his contract next season. Drafting a young corner to learn and compete opposite of Gilmore on the field will benefit the Colts’ defense for at least three years after Gilmore’s contract is up. Drafting a rookie cornerback would improve the depth of the position group that holds Isaiah Rodgers Sr., Kenny Moore, and Brandon Facyson.