Elliot Denton (@UKColtsFans) projects the Colts’ 2018 starting lineup.
QB – Andrew Luck
If he’s healthy he starts. It’s that simple. Luck is the franchise quarterback and a top five QB in the league when healthy.
RB – Marlon Mack
It’s Mack’s job to lose at this point in the year. He’s got the perfect opportunity to nail down the lead role in the running back by committee that Frank Reich plans to use in his offense.
WR1 – TY Hilton
Do we even need to discuss this? Hilton is by far the Colts’ best receiving option and a top 10 receiver in the league.
WR2 – Ryan Grant
The most experienced receiver on the team not named Hilton. Will likely start outside in base formation but could also work in the slot too. Has played all three wide receiver positions previously.
TE – Jack Doyle
Had a breakout Pro Bowl season last year with Brissett at QB, can only imagine he can match or maybe improve with Luck back there throwing him the ball.
LT – Anthony Castonzo
The Colts’ mainstay on the offensive line since 2011. Castonzo has come into the league and nailed down the Colts starting left tackle job and hasn’t looked back. He’s the most reliable and consistent offensive lineman the Colts have and will be the left tackle this year.
LG – Quenton Nelson
The first round pick from this years draft goes straight into the straight left guard position. He was touted by some as the best player in the draft and by all as the best offensive lineman in the draft. Nelson is a plug and play starter with Pro Bowl and eventually All-Pro potential.
C – Ryan Kelly
The last first-round pick of the Grigson era, Kelly was the best center in the 2016 NFL Draft and played like it his rookie year. Last year was a sophomore slump for Kelly in which much of his poor play could be attributed to injuries. Expect a bounce-back year for Kelly.
RG – Braden Smith
This is where things start to get interesting, as the right side of the offensive line is not as certain as the left. Smith, a second-round pick from this years Draft goes straight into the starting lineup. This will be a training camp battle between Smith and likely Matt Slauson.
RT – Austin Howard
Recently signed Howard goes straight into contention for starting right tackle spot. However, it’s a straight competition between Howard, Denzelle Good and maybe even Joe Haeg. I see Howard just edging it due to veteran experience and prolonged better play than the other two.
RDE – Jabaal Sheard
The Colts’ only real source of pass rush last year. The best defensive lineman the Colts have on the roster, Sheard is a lock to start.
DT – Al Woods
Woods will man the “nose tackle” defensive tackle spot on the defensive line. Likely only a first and second down guy who is subbed out on third down for a better interior pass rusher.
DT – Hassan Ridgeway
The Colts are in dire need of a 3-technique defensive tackle to shine out of the group of possibilities. Ridgeway has the best skill set to do so. Will be under pressure to perform as new addition Rakeem Nunez-Roches will be in the mix too. Likely subbed out on third down for someone like Autry kicking inside.
LDE – John Simon
It’s a toss-up between Simon and Denico Autry here but I give Simon the edge and he’s the better athlete. But Simon will have to fight to start. Surprised Simon was kept at defensive end, would have preferred to have seen him used as a SAM linebacker on early downs then put his hand in the dirt on third down.
WLB – Darius Leonard
The Colts drafted Leonard high in the second round for a reason, for him to be the starting WILL linebacker. He’s young, fast, fearless and can cover. He will fight for playing time early and should be the starter come week 1.
MLB – Anthony Walker Jr.
Walker has slimmed down in weight so he can improve on his biggest weakness, agility, and movement in coverage. With this slimmed-down size, Walker should be able to do everything that is needed of him as the Colts starting MIKE linebacker.
SLB – Antonio Morrison
Morrison is good at two things; tackling and stopping the run. So he plays the linebacker position that utilizes his skill set best, SAM linebacker. Morrison will be the enforcer in the run game for the Colts and then disappear to the bench on third down as to not be dominated in coverage like he has been previously.
CB1 – Quincy Wilson
The Colts cornerback one, Wilson will need to show the rookie flashes on a much more permanent basis. He’s probably the Colts best coverage cornerback and should see the starting lineup week one.
CB2 – Pierre Desir
Desir was resigned for a reason. That reason was to add talent to the cornerback position. At this point in time, he is the best option to start across from Wilson, unless the Colts pick up another corner (Bashaud Breeland, I’m looking at you).
FS – Malik Hooker
Two words. Ball. Hawk. Hooker will be the starter if he’s healthy, there’s no question about it. He’s the Colts best safety and last years first round pick for a reason.
SS – Clayton Geathers
The Colts enforcer in the secondary, he’s this Colts era’s Bob Sanders. Need to trust his body more after recovering from the neck injury. If he can bounce back then he should return to the dominant play of his early years in the league.
K – Adam Vinatieri
GOAT. Enough said.
P – Rigoberto Sanchez
Had an amazing rookie year and really filled the void left by Pat McAfee’s retirement.
LS – Luke Rhodes
Barely noticeable last year, which is always a good sign, in his first year as long snapper.