Colts training camp officially begins today. With plenty of questions looming, let’s predict what the final roster will look like come opening day.
Quarterbacks (2): Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett
Frank Reich intends on playing Andrew Luck in Indianapolis’ home opener against Seattle. All signs point towards him being healthy and ready to go. The Colts should only carry Brissett as a backup, as he performed well enough last season. Quarterback health will be key for the Colts’ success in 2018.
Running Backs (4): Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Robert Turbin
Marlon Mack is primed to be the primary back but he is far from a workhorse. Expect to see a heavy dose of Nyheim Hines in the passing games on third downs. Jordan Wilkins will have a chance to impress in camp and may be in line to start if Mack goes down. Despite his four-game suspension, I expect the Colts won’t cut Robert Turbin. He provides a short-yardage and pass-blocking presence that no other back in the room provides.
Wide Receivers (5): T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers, Daurice Fountain, Deon Cain
There won’t be any real surprises here. Look for Ryan Grant to potentially break out besides T.Y. Hilton. He’s a very balanced and steady receiver who should shine under Andrew Luck. Rookies Daurice Fountain and Deon Cain are both talented and should compete for significant minutes.
Tight Ends (3): Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope
Frank Reich will use his tight ends frequently in his system, featuring Jack Doyle. His consistency and run blocking ability pencils him as the number one. Eric Ebron hasn’t been able to reach his top 10 pick potential but he’s an athletic freak who very well could be unleashed in the Colts’ offense. Erik Swoope hasn’t been able to stay healthy but when he’s on the field, he looks like a potential solid weapon.
Offensive Linemen (10): Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith, Jack Mewhort, Joe Haeg, Matt Slauson, Austin Howard, Denzelle Good, Deyshawn Bond
The Colts will have a very solid offensive line in 2018. The Colts will have a very deep offensive line in 2018. Those are two statements that we have not been able to say since Andrew Luck has been in Indianapolis. First-round pick Quenton Nelson will boost the run and pass game greatly from day one. Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith are all good young lineman. If they do get hurt, the Colts have ample depth to replace them.
Defensive Linemen (10): Jabaal Sheard, Al Woods, Margus Hunt, Hassan Ridgeway, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Denico Autry, Tarell Basham, Rakeem Nunez-Roches
The Colts will rely on Jabaal Sheard to be their primary sack artist once again in 2018. This pass rush on paper will be one of the least productive in the NFL unless a young player such as Tarell Basham or Kemoko Turay can step up. The run defense should be a bit better, with veteran Al Woods leading the way. Grover Stewart and Hassan Ridgeway are both young and Denico Autry and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are both versatile depth pieces.
Linebackers: (7): John Simon, Anthony Walker Jr., Antonio Morrison, Darius Leonard, Skai Moore, Najee Goode, Jeremiah George
The Colts’ weak linebacker corps is headed by John Simon, the versatile backer who shined in 2017. He can rush the passer, play stand up, and cover. Anthony Walker Jr. and Antonio Morrison will need to take a jump if they want to stand a chance against even decent running backs and tight ends. Rookie Darius Leonard should slot into a fairly major role as a coverage linebacker and a tackle machine. Look for undrafted rookie Skai Moore to make the final 53 for his instincts and coverage ability alone.
Cornerbacks (5): Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore, Nate Hairston, Chris Milton, Pierre Desir
The Colts’ cornerback group, in all likelihood, will not be pretty to watch this season. Even if Quincy Wilson can emerge as a true number one, the corner opposite him is up in the air. Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir, or Chris Milton should be the one who ultimately wins that job. Nate Hairston will continue to man the nickel after his impressive rookie season.
Safeties (4): Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Matthias Farley, T.J. Green
With Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers on the PUP list to begin camp, the safety position could get dicey. When healthy, this duo is very solid. Hooker looked like a near-elite safety before his injury last season: an elite center-fielder with Ed Reed like range. Geathers is the run-stuffing thumper and box safety. Matthias Farley is a very solid, versatile defensive back who likely will see heavy minutes again in 2018. I doubt that the Colts will ever give up on T.J. Green, despite how poor he’s played. Maybe he’ll take a step up in 2018. The Colts really hope so.
Specialists (3): Adam Vinatieri (K), Rigoberto Sanchez (P, KOS), Luke Rhodes (LS)
Adam Vinatieri will kick until he can no longer move his leg far enough back to make contact with the ball. In the event of this happening, Rigoberto Sanchez should be given a chance to be the kicker, punter, and kickoff specialist. Luke Rhodes will once again be the long snapper, the flashiest position in football.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.