Projecting Indianapolis Colts Depth Chart After Peak of Free Agency
Free agency is beginning to wind down around the NFL, and the Indianapolis Colts have already added their fair share of new faces for the 2014 season. While the regular season is still more than four months away, this seems like an appropriate time to project the team's current depth chart before the NFL draft in May.
The Colts have been very busy this offseason, re-signing players like Vontae Davis, Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri. Meanwhile, they also brought in some new faces, including D'Qwell Jackson, Arthur Jones, Hakeem Nicks and others.
Much like 2013, this Colts team is probably going to look a bit different, so let's take a look at the projected depth chart before the NFL draft.
Note: All contract information is provided by Spotrac.com
1. Andrew Luck
Luck is entering his third year in the NFL, and he's shown some real promise in his first two seasons. The argument could be made that he's already a top 10 quarterback but some critics might want to see more flashy numbers from the former Stanford QB as the team around him continues to improve.
Given the weapons the Colts have, Luck should be just fine if the team around him can stay healthy.
2. Matt Hasselbeck
At 38 years old, Hasselbeck is entering the final season of his two-year deal with the Colts. He'll be there to continue to be a veteran presence for Luck to turn to, but it's unlikely he'll stay past 2014.
3. Chandler Harnish
The former Mr. Irrelevant pick has found a way to stay with the Colts over the past two seasons, and it looks like he's set to become the backup once Hasselbeck retires. Chandler Harnish isn't the best quarterback out there but learning under Hasselbeck and Luck probably hasn't hurt his development.
If it were up to me, Trent Richardson probably wouldn't see the field. But the Colts seemed determined to keep Richardson involved at the end of last season, despite averaging just 2.9 yards per carry during his 14 games with the team.
This year, there won't be any excuses for the former Alabama running back. He'll have a full offseason to learn the system, get more comfortable with his teammates and continue to develop as a player. Given the fact that the Colts gave up a first-round pick for him, fans aren't going to give Richardson any slack if he doesn't perform next season.
The Colts were smart to bring back Ahmad Bradshaw, especially for a deal that will count for just $570,000 against the cap. If healthy, Bradshaw could be a huge asset for the Colts. In three games last season, he ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but the big concern is the fact that he has missed 19 games over the past three years.
Still, even if he gets hurt again, he's on a cheap deal that the Colts can easily deal with.
3. Vick Ballard
After a promising rookie season where Vick Ballard totaled 966 total yards and three touchdowns, the 23-year-old running back tore his ACL after just one game in 2013. It's unclear what he'll be able to bring to the table coming off of the injury, but he could be a valuable player if he's as good as he was in 2012.
4/5. Dan Herron/Chris Rainey
If the other three running backs stay healthy, it's not likely that these guys make the final 53-man roster. Chris Rainey can return kicks, but other than that, there's not a ton of value with either of these guys.
1. Reggie Wayne
One of the biggest punches in the gut for fans last season was seeing Reggie Wayne tear his ACL during the win against the Denver Broncos. Now, at 35 years old, Wayne will have to prove to everyone that he still has plenty left in the tank for another productive season.
2. T.Y. Hilton
He may only be 5'9" and 178 pounds, but T.Y. Hilton has become a legitimate threat, regardless of where he is on the field. In just two seasons, he's put up 132 receptions, 1,944 yards and 12 touchdowns, making him one of the most productive receivers in the NFL.
However, another offseason means more time for opponents to figure out how to stop Hilton, so he will need to stay focused in order to keep putting up big numbers.
3. Hakeem Nicks
One of the most exciting additions this offseason has been former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks. With 27 touchdowns in his first five seasons, Nicks looks like a terrific weapon to complement Hilton and Wayne given his size.
While there are still concerns about his playing while hurt, two of the league's top specialists claimed that his previous injuries won't keep him from playing at 100 percent next season, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
4. Da'Rick Rogers
After putting up 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals, Da'Rick Rogers turned plenty of heads. While he wasn't as effective for the rest of the season, it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full offseason to work with the team under his belt.
5. LaVon Brazill
LaVon Brazill was suspended for four games last year after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he's been an effective player when on the field. In the team's playoff game against the New England Patriots, Brazill had two touchdowns on just two receptions.
There will be plenty of competition at the bottom of the depth chart, however, so Brazill will need to fight once again for a spot on the final roster.
6. Griff Whalen
After a strong showing at training camp, Griff Whalen became a popular player among the fans. Having played with Luck and Pep Hamilton, Whalen seems fairly comfortable in the offense, but he's going to have to produce if he wants to stay on the team, as the Colts may only keep four or five receivers.
1. Dwayne Allen
Having Dwayne Allen back this year is going to be huge for the Colts. Along with being an effective run-blocker, he's also an intimidating weapon in the passing game, given his size and speed.
Hamilton's offensive scheme badly needed a player like Allen at tight end and with him healthy, it will be interesting to see just how effective the No Coast offense can be.
2. Coby Fleener
The numbers for Coby Fleener looked much better in 2013, with the former Cardinal catching 52 passes for 608 yards and four touchdowns. Still, fans are expecting more from a player that was such a mismatch at the college level, but he should continue to improve as he gets more comfortable in the offense.
3. Jack Doyle
When forced to play, Jack Doyle wasn't exactly the best player on the field. He struggled as a blocker as well as in the passing game, but the Colts need someone else to back up the two starters.
1. Stanley Havili
The Colts are likely only going to be carrying one fullback, and that's going to be Stanley Havili. He's a versatile player at the position, but he doesn't excel in any one area.
To be honest, I'm not a fan of having Havili on the field. It's not as much about him as a player, but the fact that having him on the field means that someone like Hilton, Fleener, Allen or Nicks won't be out there instead.
1. Anthony Castonzo
Despite such a rough season from the offensive line, Anthony Castonzo was one of the lone bright spots. He's proven to be an effective run-blocker and while he hasn't been the most consistent left tackle in pass protection, he hasn't been the problem.
2. Jack Breckner
Ryan Grigson is known for casting a wide net when it comes to adding players, and he's hoping he found another hidden gem in Jack Breckner. Breckner recently played in the Arena Football League and he's an intimidating person at 6'9" and 320 pounds.
Hopefully Breckner won't have to play left tackle, but it will be interesting to see how effective he can be, given his size, if he's forced to play.
1. Donald Thomas
Colts fans can rejoice at the fact that the team might finally have some help on the interior of the offensive line. They signed Donald Thomas last year, but he got hurt in the very first game. Now, he'll have a chance to show just how good he is and, hopefully, keep Luck upright.
2. Joe Reitz
Although he didn't played much last season, Joe Reitz was effective when out on the field in both run and pass-blocking. He'll probably start the season on the bench but if Hugh Thornton struggles, he might end up playing opposite of Thomas.
1. Phil Costa
Cutting Samson Satele meant that the Colts were going to have to look for some help at center. Instead of pursuing someone like Alex Mack or Brian De La Puente, the Colts decided to bring in Phil Costa.
Costa started every game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, but he then dislocated his ankle at the beginning of 2012. The starting job is wide open in Indianapolis, so we will see if Costa can be effective enough to be the new starter.
2. Khaled Holmes
It feels like there are a lot of questions surrounding Khaled Holmes entering this season. Cutting Satele means that Holmes has a chance to become the starter, yet he was almost always a healthy scratch before games this past season. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he played in just 13 snaps last year.
Holmes has a chance to become the starter, but he's going to have to prove himself.
1. Hugh Thornton
Thornton had a very rough rookie season, giving up seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits, which was more than anyone else on the team in either category, per PFF. With Mike McGlynn gone, Thornton will still have a starting job, but he could lose it quickly if he doesn't improve in 2014.
1. Gosder Cherilus
Gosder Cherilus might have been an expensive signing last offseason, but he was definitely a big upgrade at right tackle. Assuming he continues to play like this, he'll probably be the starting right tackle for the next few seasons.
2. Xavier Nixon
Xavier Nixon did about as good as you'd expect a young backup offensive tackle having to start a few games last season. That's not saying a lot, but he'll be a serviceable backup.
1. Cory Redding
At 33 years old, Cory Redding had a strong year on the defensive line last year, recording 36 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks. It will be interesting to see if he starts to slow down a bit next year, but he still should be a valuable asset in run defense.
2. Arthur Jones
Although technically listed as a defensive end, Arthur Jones should be versatile enough to move around the line when needed. He's a terrific run-stopper that was also able to get a few sacks this past season, so he'll see the field often throughout the season.
1. Josh Chapman
We finally got to see our first glimpse of Josh Chapman last season, and it wasn't that bad. He played in 13 games and did a good job in run defense. With Aubrayo Franklin gone, he'll be getting a lot more snaps this season.
2. Montori Hughes
Montori Hughes didn't see the field enough to figure out if he'll be any good, but he might have to step into the rotation on the defensive line this season if the Colts don't draft any help inside. He's a big boy at 6'4" and 349 pounds, but he still needs to prove he's an NFL-caliber defensive lineman.
1. Ricky Jean-Francois
Ricky Jean-Francois had a strong first season with the Colts and hopefully that will continue into next year. He should be the starter to begin 2014.
2. Fili Moala
Surprisingly, Fili Moala is one of the few players on the team that's been playing with the Colts since the old coaching staff. He'll see some playing time next season, but he might not be in Indy much longer, as he's back on just a one-year deal.
1. Robert Mathis
At 32 years old, Robert Mathis led the NFL with an incredible 19.5 sacks last season, and it looks like he has plenty left in the tank. Mathis won't have a problem getting sacks, but the real question is who else will get to the quarterback.
2. Bjoern Werner
It wasn't a pretty rookie season for Bjoern Werner, as he struggled making the transition to a 3-4 defense. He got 2.5 sacks but one was against the Houston Texans when he was completely unblocked. He'll probably see the field more next year, but Werner really needs to step up.
3. Daniel Adongo
One of the most fascinating players in the NFL right now is Daniel Adongo. A former rugby player, Adongo is trying to prove that he can transition to the NFL without any previous experience. He made it onto the field last season, so maybe we'll see a bit more of him this year.
1. Jerrell Freeman
Bringing in Jerrell Freeman from the CFL definitely paid off for Grigson and the rest of the team. This past season, he put up 126 combined tackles, six forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. This will be Freeman's third full season coming up, and there's a chance it could be his best yet.
2. D'Qwell Jackson
Odds are that we'll see D'Qwell Jackson lined up alongside Freeman in the middle of the defense. While he wasn't the most consistent inside linebacker last year, he had been a reliable player for the Cleveland Browns over the past seven seasons.
3. Kelvin Sheppard
The Colts traded Jerry Hughes to the Buffalo Bills for Kelvin Sheppard before last year. While Hughes went on to post 10 sacks in what was a career-best season, Sheppard seriously struggled when on the field, especially against the run.
Sheppard isn't going to wow anyone this year, but he'll likely see the field enough to try and prove to the fans that he's better than 2013 indicated.
4. Josh McNary
Josh McNary spent two years in active military service before finally making it to the NFL last year. According to PFF, he played in just 94 snaps last year, but he was still able to post an overall grade of 2.0 while on the field. If someone gets hurt, McNary could be playing a lot more this year.
1. Erik Walden
One of the most questionable free-agent acquisitions last year was Erik Walden, who signed a four-year deal worth $16 million. He had a few nice plays throughout the year but overall he struggled to set the edge like he was asked to. He'll still be the starter, however, unless the Colts draft someone else at the position early.
2. Justin Hickman
Justin Hickman was brought in back in 2012 after spending time in both the AFL and CFL. He spent the past season on the injured reserve list, but he'll be looking to fight for a roster spot in training camp.
1. Vontae Davis
After signing a four-year deal worth $39 million, Vontae Davis is now one of the highest-paid corners in the league. He only had one interception last year, but his ability to shut down opposing receivers made him one of the most important players on defense last year.
2. Greg Toler
Staying healthy was a big concern for Greg Toler when the Colts signed him. Unfortunately, injuries kept him out for seven games this season, which means he's now missed 28 games in the past three years. If he can actually stay healthy this year, he should be a nice No. 2 to play alongside Davis.
3. Darius Butler
When Darius Butler has had to play as a No. 1 or No. 2 corner, he's struggled. He's much more effective when playing as a nickel corner against slot receivers. If the depth chart stays like this, Butler will be in the perfect position to be as effective as possible.
4. Josh Gordy
Josh Gordy was a decent option when he was asked to play. He was able to get another deal with the Colts, but it's for just one year, so he'll need to prove himself to stay with the team.
5. Sheldon Price
Heading into training camp last year, I was really curious about Sheldon Price. He was the ideal frame for a shutdown corner at 6'2" and 181 pounds. He joined the Colts as an undrafted free agent last year, so he could lose his job at any time if he doesn't impress the coaching staff.
1. LaRon Landry
Now that Antoine Bethea is gone, the Colts are going to probably have to make LaRon Landry the go-to free safety due to the lack of depth in the secondary. While he's known mostly for being a heavy hitter, he wasn't as bad as expected in coverage, but it's still unlikely he's as effective as the team's old free safety at trying to prevent deep passes.
2. Delano Howell
Delano Howell is best known for returning a blocked field goal 61 yards for the score against the Seattle Seahawks, and other than that, he really didn't do too much. However, Landry has struggled to stay healthy in previous seasons, so Howell might have to start some games throughout the year.
1. Corey Lynch
Corey Lynch has never been a permanent starter during his career, although he has started a total of 12 games in six years. The Colts will probably look for a player in the draft to start here, but for now, it looks like Lynch would be the guy.
2. Sergio Brown
Even if Sergio Brown isn't the best option at safety, it doesn't matter. Brown makes a big contribution on special teams, and he was one of the main reasons for so many punts being pinned inside the 20-yard line.
1. Adam Vinatieri
After what we saw last year, it looks like Adam Vinatieri could kick for another few years. He made 35 of his 40 field goals last season, making six from 50-plus yards. He's currently 41 years old, but that doesn't seem to be stopping him from continuing to make kicks.
1. Pat McAfee
Pat McAfee was franchise tagged last year, but this offseason he was able to sign a five-year deal for $14.5 million. He's always been a popular player in the community, but it also doesn't hurt that he averaged 46 yards per punt while pinning 27 inside the 20-yard line.
1. Matt Overton
The best long snappers are the ones that you almost never hear about. Matt Overton does a great job of that, as he's continued to be a solid long snapper over the past two years.