We are just days away from the 2017 Indianapolis Colts training camp, and to get you ready I am going to be breaking down the unit which needs perhaps the most improvement from a season ago, the secondary.
Last season, the Indianapolis Colts secondary was perhaps the worst in the entire NFL, and coming into 2017 Pro football focus has already named them the worst in the entire league again.
Now I’m not saying the Colts weren’t historically bad last year:ranking 26th in passing yards per game, 23rd in touchdowns allowed through the air, and a measly 8 interceptions. But coming into this season, the Colts secondary does not even resemble to same that took the field a year ago. The only returning starters are Vontae Davis, who is entering a contract year, and injured Clayton Geathers. Darius Butler is back, but he will he playing safety, and T.J. Green, who saw action last season when Geathers injured his neck. The Colts went out and drafted safety Malik Hooker with the 1st round pick, and cb Quincy Wilson in the 2nd. They also drafted Nate Hairston from Temple in the 5th round.
That’s instantly 2 starters upgrading from last season, and another role player later in the draft. These rookies have a lot to prove in their first year, and will get plenty of opportunities to do so early and often. Let’s take a look at some of the new guys, because after Vontae Davis, no starter is set in stone.
Quincy Wilson cb
Wilson was the leader of an elite secondary in Florida last season, and made second team all SEC. He allowed the lowest rating by opposing quarterbacks when thrown at, and finished the year with 3 interceptions, 33 tackles, and 6 breakups. Quincy is an elite athlete who has size to go with it, something the Colts typically haven’t had in the secondary. Bottomline: Wilson brings a playmaking ability to go opposite of Vontae Davis, and should step right in as the day 1 starter. His downside is what also makes him a good player , being that he takes gambles and can be beaten overtop when he’s wrong.
Photo: Jeremy Birmingham
Malik Hooker s
When Malik Hooker fell to the Colts, I was just as shocked as gm Chris Ballard, nearly every mock draft I had seen put Hooker in the top 10 if not the top 5. He was the best ball tracking safety in years to come out, and instantly gives the Colts a center fielder who can cover receivers over the top. He will not be a in the box safety like Bob Sanders used to be, with tackling being his weakness, however he will provide excitement in coverage and tracking the football .
Like Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston has good size and ball skills which makes him an intriguing cornerback prospect. However he is still incredibly raw and new to the position. He went to Temple as a wide receiver and transitioned to cornerback his junior year after not getting much playing time. The learning curve was steep his first year, yet after his senior year he was selected in the 5th round by Indy. It will be interesting to see how well he develops during camp and I would expect at minimum he will be a practice squad stash.
Tyson Graham Jr. S
Tyson Graham Jr. Will add to the competition at the safety position. The undrafted rookie out of South Dakota finished his 2 year career there with 6 interceptions and 131 tackles. He fits into that ball hawk mentality that Ballard likes as well as being able to pack a punch when hitting a ballcarrier.
These guys along with some of the veterans will provide a big boost to a secondary that was one of the worst in the NFL last season, and perhaps the worst in Colts history. Look for improvement immediately in coverage as well as the ability to turn the football over. Chris Ballard is bringing in athletic young defensive backs who have a knack for finding the football, making them an exciting bunch to watch develop.
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