Frank Reich is the new man in charge, so now lets take a look at the Colts remaining biggest needs as the 2018 NFL season is just around the corner (there is no off-season)
Now that the nightmare of a coaching search is over, and the Colts have their man, it is time to move on to perhaps the most important aspect of GM Chris Ballard’s rebuild here in Indy, preparing for free agency and the NFL Draft.
I’ve narrowed it down to 3 major needs that the Colts have remaining (although there are more, these are the most important)
1) Pass Rush
Jabaal Sheard was fine last year. He provided good edge defense, and occasionally got to the opposing quarterback. However, if you are starting to build a defense, the most crucial part is the ability to wreck havoc in the opposing teams backfield. The Colts must find a pass rushing option that can consistently disrupt plays in the backfield and get after the quarterback.
Demarcus Lawerence of the Cowboys is due to hit free agency, so that is a possibility with the connection to new Colts defensive coordinator Dan Eberflus, after that, there is not viable option in free agency.
Premiere pass rushers do not hit the open market, and that is why it is so important for the Colts to draft an elite pass rusher this spring. Bradley Chubb is the man linked to the top of the draft, and after that the talent drops off. I’m in the party of drafting Chubb at the #3 spot, and getting him no matter what. This defense needs elite talent, and Chubb would make an immediate impact (10+ sacks)
2) Offensive Line in Free Agency
The Indianapolis Colts have had one of the worst o – lines in the league over the past 5 years, and it isn’t getting any better despite spending 11 draft picks since the 2012 draft on the unit alone. I think free agency is an area where the Colts must find o line talent, and spend big money. Ballard should be able to find 2-3 starters to go alongside Castonzo and Ryan Kelly in free agency alone, and also could spend another draft pick on a player he likes and would want to develop with the new coaching regime. Andrew Norwell and Justin Pugh are two names to keep an eye on as free agency comes near.
3) Middle Linebacker
The Indianapolis Colts have some of the slowest linebackers I’ve ever seen in coverage. They play great in the box, and against power running teams (see Houston games, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Fran), however against teams that like to spread things out, it might be the worst I’ve ever seen in the NFL.
In coverage, they do not stand a chance against crossing routes and receiving tight ends. Switching to a 4-3 from a 3-4 makes this need even more important as even more emphasis will be placed on the MLB to cover more and move sideline to sideline.
In free agency Gerald Hodges, Navarro Bowman, and Avery Williamson headline the inside linebackers this year, all have pluses and negatives in their history, but all would be an improvement over what the Colts currently have unless they are able to develop this off-season in a new scheme.
*I’m putting a disclaimer here because I do not love free agency as much as most do. There is almost always a reason that a player hits the free agent market, and it is rare to find an elite talent in the free agency pool. Fans each year get so excited when free agency hits, and it doesn’t always work out. So be careful what you read from others trying to say what the Colts should do in free agency, and look at the overall picture instead of how Chris Ballard is constructing his team. Ballard has said all along he believes the best teams are built internally through the draft. The Colts have $80 million to spend this off=season, but that doesn’t mean he will try and sign a bunch of headline names.
There are plenty of needs on this Colts team, but I feel 3 in particular stand out. Have a comment or question? Feel free to post below or head over to the forums to discuss!