The Colts’ 2018 draft class is one of the most vital in recent years. They are the future of the roster that will hopefully help Andrew Luck take the Colts to the promised land. Fortunately, plenty of the Colts’ rookies have been performing at a very high level during training camp. These rookies will have a chance to take the Colts farther than most expected.
The sixth overall pick has been dominating everyone who gets in his way. A guard out of Notre Dame, he is one of the best linemen to come out of college in some time. Nelson is a mauler who’s light on his feet, allowing him to excel in run blocking and pass protection. Once Nelson gets his hands on a defender, it’s over. He has shown an excellent ability to eat up defenders during camp.
Watch how quickly Quenton Nelson gets his outside hand back into position after missing. And the hips/feet are perfect. He’s going to be an All Pro. pic.twitter.com/j9iA8ykNwI
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) July 28, 2018
Nelson has been a brick wall during camp, pushing defensive linemen backward and flattening cornerbacks. He looks like a potential cornerstone for this franchise, which is even more vital given Jack Mewhort’s surprising retirement. The Colts could have a very solid offensive line for the first time in Andrew Luck’s career, which could eventually help push Indy over the top.
Drafted in the sixth round, expectations were high for the Clemson wideout. Seen as a day two prospect by many, Cain inexplicably fell to the sixth round, right into the Colts’ lap. Aside from T.Y. Hilton, the Colts’ receiver position is filled with question marks. Free agent signing Ryan Grant is solid and rookie Daurice Fountain is raw with plenty of upside. However, it seems like Cain is the readiest to make an impact as a rookie.
He’s been training with Randy Moss and made some Moss-like plays during camp, like this face-catch from Andrew Luck.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) July 28, 2018
Cain’s jump ball ability stems from his excellent athleticism, balance, and body control. Him and T.Y. Hilton’s games compliment each other well and we could see the duo used extensively in the near future.
Moore went undrafted out of South Carolina due to his lack of size, athleticism, and concerning injury history. However, he has a skill that the Colts’ linebackers are severely lacking: ball skills. Moore’s instincts and short area quickness are excellent, allowing him to be an excellent cover linebacker in both man and zone. He intercepted an eye-popping 14 passes over his career in college.
Linebackers getting in some pick drills. INTs are no issue for Skai Moore (48) pic.twitter.com/tjPVJWxH0A
— Jake Arthur (@JakeArthurNFL) July 28, 2018
Due to an injury to Anthony Walker, Moore received first-team reps at the MIKE linebacker position, the quarterback of the defense. With the modern NFL becoming a more pass-focused league, cover linebackers have become a premium. Because of the Colts’ demand for covering backers, Moore seems like a lock to make the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie.
Along with Moore, Darius Leonard is looking to turn around the once abysmal Colts’ linebacking corps. A second-round pick, Leonard has good size, quickness, and is highly instinctual. He looks like a potentially excellent SAM linebacker, a la Telvin Smith. And so far, Leonard has not disappointed.
In his first few days, Leonard intercepted Andrew Luck and chased down Nyheim Hines on a screen play. A reminder: Darius Leonard ran a 4.7 40, Nyheim Hines ran a 4.38. Leonard has seemed to have cemented himself as a starter on the Colts’ defense. A nickel package featuring Leonard and Moore could one day turn into a formidable cover unit at the linebacker position.
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.