Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard made the best decision all offseason by bringing in Frank Reich as the Colts new Head Coach. After the Josh McDaniels debacle, the only way was up. Out of the ashes, the Colts have risen with Ballard and Reich spearheading arguably the most pivotal offseason in Colts history since 2012. The Colts will be led by a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator, all who will have never served in their respective roles previously. The biggest shift will see the Colts defense shift from Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 to a “Tampa 2” style 4-3 defense under new Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus.
The Colts have a ton of needs all over their roster. There is plenty to delve into and we plan on doing just that. From looking at the Colts overall team needs, profiling each Colts free agent to be and discussing whether or not they should be resigned, looking at potential free agent additions from outside the team and also looking into potential draft fits. The Colts now head into arguably the most important part of the offseason, in terms of roster turnover, which kicks off this week with the NFL Scouting Combine.
Colts’ Free Agents
Kamar Aiken, Wide Receiver
Jon Bostic, Inside Linebacker
Darius Butler, Safety
Pierre Desir, Cornerback
Frank Gore, Running Back
Rashaan Melvin, Cornerback
Jack Mewhort, Offensive Guard
Christine Michael, Running Back
Barkevious Mingo, Outside Linebacker
Donte Moncrief, Wide Receiver
Mike Person, Center
Scott Tolkien, Quarterback
Brandon Williams, Tight End
The Colts have four exclusive rights free agents heading into the 2018 season:
Chris Milton, Cornerback
Luke Rhodes, Long Snapper
Erik Swoope, Tight End
Jeremy Vujnovich, Offensive Guard
Colts’ cap space
According to Over The Cap the Colts will have $73,500,202 in cap space (based on a $194,218,303 projected salary cap, which is subject to change depending on the actual salary cap number). With that amount of cap space, the Colts will have more than enough to fit General Manager Chris Ballard and Co. to work with.
Colts Team Needs
The Colts are in dire need of pass rush help. The Colts haven’t had a legitimate pass rushing threat since Robert Mathis retired in 2016 but even then they were solely reliant on Mathis to get to the opposing team’s Quarterback. Jabaal Sheard offered a glimmer of hope last season but even he can’t do it alone. Pass rush is the team’s number one need this offseason.
With the switch from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense happening this offseason a focus on the linebacker position is a must. The Colts inside linebackers stunk last year, there is little to no talent in this position group and the whole linebacking room needs an overhaul. The Colts run defense showed an improvement but the Colts pass defense, especially when a linebacker was the primary defender in coverage, was nothing short of atrocious.
The Colts 2017 Offensive Line was exactly what it’s been for the last few years, inconsistent. When it’s good it’s serviceable but when it’s bad it’s putrid (see Colts versus Jaguars, 22nd October 2017). There are pieces to work with, long time Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo, second-year Center Ryan Kelly and Right Tackle Joe Haeg all showed flashes during the 2017 season. The Colts need to address the interior of the offensive line and also the right tackle position.
Outside of T.Y. Hilton the wide receiver group was near enough non-existent during the 2017 season. Donte Moncrief was a total disappointment and none of the other receivers stepped up in his place. I expect there to be a few additions to this position group which is still searching for a supporting cast to Hilton.
The cornerback position saw a relatively big turnover last offseason with only Vontae Davis (who was cut late in the season) and Rashaan Melvin kept. Even though the stats won’t agree with me, the Colts secondary showed extreme promise. Second-round pick Quincy Wilson, when allowed to play, showed sticky coverage and an aggressive demeanor. Fifth-round pick Nate Hairston showed why he was a late round draft steal by locking down the team’s nickel cornerback spot in training camp and never looking back. Rashaan Melvin had a career year and his play warrants a big contract for the soon to be a free agent. Pierre Desir showed starting cornerback potential when filling in. However, only Wilson and Hairston are under contract for the 2018 season.
Frank Gore is a Hall of Fame running back who deserves a Super Bowl ring to cap off his illustrious career. He was everything the Colts asked of him in 2017, however, it’s time to say goodbye to Frank. Chris Ballard has vied to go younger at the position and so the team will be looking at a new starting running back in 2018. Marlon Mack was nothing short of dynamic and explosive in the touches he was given but showed his rookie limitations. The team will likely add to this position to split reps with Mack.
Colts’ Draft Picks
Barring any moves, the Colts will have seven draft picks, one in each of the seven rounds, in the upcoming draft.
Round 1 Pick 3rd overall
Round 2 Pick 36th overall
Round 3 Pick 67th overall
Round 4 104th overall
Round 5 140th overall
Round 6 178th overall
Round 7 221st overall
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