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INDIANAPOLIS – By all accounts, another successful NFL Combine has come and gone in the city of Indianapolis.

As if we needed further confirmation, the Combine should never leave the Circle City.

The NFL descending upon Indianapolis late every February shouldn’t change anytime soon.

This year’s Combine had the Colts in the center of several news items and the rumor mill will turn into real answers once free agency begins on March 18th.

Here are 10 Colts takeaways from the 2020 Combine:

    • Castonzo Makes Colts Sleep Easier: For a month and a half, we stressed the massive importance that came with Anthony Castonzo’s decision on whether or not he wanted to keep playing football again. He does, and that’s a 300-pound sigh of relief for the Colts. Now, the Colts are treating this as just a 2020 answer from Castonzo, which means finding a longer-term option at left tackle is a focus, likely in the first three or four rounds of the 2020 Draft.

 

    • Colts Open Up To Big Name Free Agents: Approaching his 4th free agency as the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, Chris Ballard finally feels his locker room is ready. That means more of an openness to find a bigger name player, who might not meet the lofty character standard that the Colts have when evaluating free agents. Like we’ve mentioned before Ballard’s comments confirmed it last week, the Colts (with tons of cap space) are willing to spend and alter their approach a bit this offseason.

 

    • Talk Of Philip Rivers To The Colts Building: Whether it’s people simply connecting obvious dots or some more real chatter, the idea of Philip Rivers signing with the Colts was a popular topic at the Combine. We’ve weighed the pros and cons of such a move. And it’s a topic NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah touched on before the Combine, when I asked him how he would handle the Colts’ QB dilemma: “I would start by signing Philip Rivers, and I would try and make a run at this thing for the next couple of years because I think they’re pretty close. I think Philip would come in and give them an upgrade. And then I think where you’re picking there, you know, you’re picking at 13. I know there’s so much depth and I’ve talked about the depth of receiver, and I can show you studies that will show you how many impact players have come in the second, third round, and you can get good players in those positions. But I’m trying to get, if I’m the Colts right there, I’m awfully tempted, if you see a Jerry Jeudy, a CeeDee Lamb, a Henry Ruggs, one of those three guys was there, I would go ahead and pull the trigger right there. You’ve changed the offense completely. You’ve got a good offensive line, you pair what you have already outside with one of those three receivers, Philip Rivers, I think you’ve got a chance to be a really, really fun offense to watch. And then you get into the second round, you look at some other directions they could go. At that point in time, maybe if there’s a quarterback that you like as your developmental quarterback, you could look that route, go that route. Or you could just go with a defensive tackle that has some real twitch and some upside that can rush. I think they’ll have some options there, when you look at guys like a Neville Gallimore or somebody like that from Oklahoma would make some sense there who has some twitch and interior pass rush ability. I think Jordan Elliott is another name that could come in the mix from Missouri, another guy who can really rush inside. They’re in a great spot. I’m curious what they’ll do with the quarterback position first and foremost. If they decide to stick with Jacoby Brissett and want to go towards the draft, at that time in time, gosh, Jordan Love, I don’t know that he’s ready to play right away, but that’s a huge upside pick. And you give him a chance to develop that could have a huge pay-off.”

 

    • Chris Jones Back To Kansas City? For several reasons, many have made a connection to the Colts and potential free agent defensive lineman Chris Jones. The Chiefs are trying to quiet those talks. Chiefs GM Brett Veach said at the Combine that if the Chiefs can’t come to a long-term deal with the disruptive Jones, they will apply the franchise tag to him. Unless the Colts try to formulate a trade package for the 25-year-old Jones, it looks like one of the best defensive free agents in 2020 won’t hit the open market. If Jones is indeed off the board, there are still many other intriguing defensive line options for a position group that should (and does) have the Colts interest.

 

    • No Extension For Marlon Mack? It’s not often you hear an Owner downplay contract extension talks for a player. But Jim Irsay did just that, unprompted, in regards to Marlon Mack, who is entering the final season of a four-year rookie contract. The Colts have often publicly stated their appreciation for Mack, and Irsay says the Colts ‘love’ the 23-year-old runner, but it doesn’t sound like a new deal is coming. “There were some misreports that we were pursuing an extension there. That’s not the case,” Irsay said. “I don’t know where those came from.”

 

    • Quarterback Drama Building: One of the things to watch as free agency begins on March 18th is how teams react to the quarterback domino. It’s a wild year in the quarterback market and the Colts are in the thick of it. Right now, you could make a case for about 7 teams ahead of the Colts at No. 13 drafting a quarterback. Does Carolina’s public backing of Cam Newton take them out of that group at No. 7? What does the supposedly clean medicals for Alabama’s Tua Tagovaiola mean for the draft? Do the Colts have to trade up if they want Justin Herbert or Jordan Love?

 

    • Loaded Wide Receiver Group: Chris Ballard says the wide receiver class in 2020 is ‘special.’ There’s no question that the wideout group brings the most quality, and depth, to the 2020 Draft. That’s great news for the Colts. Now, Ballard is still a major believer in building through the trenches first. Still, the Colts would be foolish to ignore the wideouts too much in this draft. Do they opt for the high-end quality at No. 13? Or can they benefit from the depth and wait until Day Two of the draft to take a receiver?

 

    • Ballard, Reich Talk 2020 Quarterback Class: Head here for a deeper dive on the top 2020 quarterbacks and their possible fits with the Colts. At the Combine, we heard more from Chris Ballard and Frank Reich on what they desire in a quarterback. For Ballard, the vital traits are leadership, accuracy and escapeabilty. For Reich, it’s accuracy, toughness, accelerated vision, footwork and intangibles. We also know Jim Irsay will be involved in this decision, which is notable as these three make the most important decision this franchise has faced in years.

 

      • Not Slamming The Door Shut On A Vinny Return: Whether it was Jim Irsay or Chris Ballard talking last week, neither slammed the door shut on a return from free agent Adam Vinatieri. Maybe the Colts just aren’t ready to publicly state they are moving on from the future Hall of Fame kicker. When Irsay talked about Vinny playing a 25th NFL season, he offered an interesting response about how the Colts handled the messy kicking situation last year: “I know he’s rehabbing that knee and something that Chris and Frank will talk about and give their opinions to me,” Irsay said when asked about Vinatieri, who is a free agent, coming back after a difficult 2019 campaign. “As an as owner I occasionally step in, but I like to give my people room to make mistakes. Often times that’s how you learn. The best way to learn. It hurts, but you learn that way. I don’t know. He’s rehabbing now. Adam knows how much I think of him. He’s unbelievable. Adam’s just a winner. His great, great, great, great, great great grandfather got out of Custer’s Last Stand. That’s good energy, man. We’ll see. He’s in rehab mode now, and we’re in the middle of trying to put the team together.”

     

    • Eric Berry? As the defensive backs met the media on Friday at the Combine, some chatter started to rise on a possible return to football from former All-Pro safety Eric Berry. Jim Trotter of NFL Network reported that the Colts have had discussions about signing the 31-year-old safety. Berry did not play football in 2019. An Achilles injury in the 2017 season opener contributed to him playing just three games over the past three years. Given Chris Ballard’s history in Kansas City, he would have great insight into Berry bringing the type of leadership that the Colts felt was missing last season (similarly to the signing of Justin Houston last March). On paper, a healthy Berry alongside Malik Hooker, Khari Willis and George Odum is a pretty good safety quartet, with Clayton Geathers headed for free agency.