Every NFL season consists of things that everyone expects and also things that no one expects. There will always be the usual teams that are contending and the top players who are having spectacular performances. However, each season opens the door for surprise teams and breakout players. The 2023 season will certainly be no different.
Entering the year, expectations are low for a team like the Indianapolis Colts. Indy is coming off a 4-12-1 season and also has a rookie quarterback and head coach. The Colts are expected to be mediocre. However, that may not be the case depending on how a few players perform.
Zachary Pereles, in a recent piece for CBS Sports, looked at 50 under-the-radar players that could shape the 2023 season. Pereles defined an under-the-radar player as guys that are under-appreciated, overlooked because of position, overshadowed by teammates, unknown, or forgotten about. If a player fell in one of these categories, and can make a big impact this season, Pereles had them listed.
The Colts had three players on this 50-man list. Pereles listed Michael Pittman Jr., Ryan Kelly, and Shaquille Leonard as under-the-radar players that can shape the 2023 season.
Michael Pittman Jr., Ryan Kelly, and Shaquille Leonard named as key players for 2023
For Pittman, Pereles argued that the fourth-year receiver’s numbers should improve as he becomes “a reliable option” for the “rocket-armed Anthony Richardson.” For Kelly, Pereles highlighted Jason Kelce to emphasize how Shane Steichen demands a lot of his centers. Ryan Kelly will have to get back to his best form to give Indy’s offense a chance.
For the lone Colts defender on the list, Shaquille Leonard, it was simple: Pereles said the Indianapolis defense “didn’t create enough havoc. Leonard, nicknamed “Maniac,” will bring some of that back.” That’s a fact. Leonard, who appears to be getting healthy, is one of the most impactful players in the league. A big return from him will certainly be great news for the Colts.
That's the case for Ryan Kelly and Michael Pittman Jr. as well. Pereles was right to highlight these three, because if all three are great in 2023, the Colts will probably be a competitive team.