INDIANAPOLIS – Is a kicker the only realistic hope to keeping the streak going?
That could very well be the case for the 2020 Colts.
No in-person offseason program, no joint practices in training camp and a shortened preseason has unquestionably significantly hurt the rookie class of every single NFL team.
First-year players have (or will) missed out on some invaluable time trying to make impressions (good or bad) on their respective staffs. Chatter about potentially shortening 90-man rosters for camp would be brutal to rookies, as well.
While the draft picks still have the clout of being an acquisition of some value, the undrafted guys will really be fighting uphill to make the final roster.
The Colts have had at least one rookie undrafted free agent on their Week One roster for each of the last 21 seasons.
Who has the best shot this year?
K-Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia): If we assigned some betting odds to the undrafted free agents, Blankenship would probably be close to even money, compared to the rest of his UDFAs. Right now, the kicking battle is a 2-man competition between the accomplished Blankenship and Chase McLaughlin. Many want to hand it to the popular kicker from Georgia, but let’s not forget the steadiness McLaughlin showed for the Colts last year.
OT-Carter O’Donnell (Alberta): Honestly, it’s pretty hard picking an order to the rest of the UDFAs. We will go with O’Donnell here, because he does have an intriguing resume from north of the border, and plays a position where the Colts do not have locked-in depth. Offensive tackle depth is a concern entering 2020.
TE-Farrod Green (Mississippi State): Green enters a position group that is a favorite of Frank Reich, but there’s a little bit of an unknown on if the Colts will be keeping 4 TEs this season, a number they have kept in prior years. With Roosevelt Nix on the roster, that could take away a number that normally went to tight end. The health of Trey Burton could be a possible avenue for Green.
CB-Travis Reed (South Alabama): Cornerback is another spot where it isn’t crystal clear how the Colts will look if they keep a 5th guy. For any defensive back that far down on the depth chart, having a strong special teams presence is a must. At 6-1, Reed brings some nice length to the corner group which could aid him.
RB/WR-DeMichael Harris (Southern Miss): One could make the statement that it’s going to take a notable injury for one of these position players to make the final roster. For Harris, is that Nyheim Hines? At 5-8 and 178 pounds, Harris has some Hines’ background to his collegiate resume. Harris moved from wideout to running back before the 2019 season. The speedy Harris had 113 carries for 541 yards and 34 catches for 346 yards last year. For his career, he had 61 catches for 587 yards and 122 carries for 621 yards. The benefit for Harris is the running back depth chart doesn’t really have another shifty receiving type, besides Hines.
S-Donald Rutledge (Georgia Southern): Like Reed at cornerback, you could make an argument that the final safety spot at safety is somewhat up for grabs. That would be the case if Julian Blackmon starts the year on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. Of course, Rutledge must be a special teams stalwart and outplay Rolan Milligan in camp.
DE-Kendall Coleman (Syracuse): Is the Indy native too low on this list? It’s not because of his college production the last two years (14.5 sacks). He just plays a position that the Colts are currently loaded at in the numbers game. Coleman, who attended Cathedral High School (the same high school as Jack Doyle), has been training with Robert Mathis this offseason so that should help him with the Colts staff having some respected intel.
OLB-Brandon Wellington (Washington): As we continue to try and throw darts at a board in picking this order, let’s go with an undersized linebacker. We know the frontline guys at linebacker, but No. 5 (and No. 6?) are a bit open. Again, finding a role on special teams is a must for Wellington.
DL-Kameron Cline (South Dakota): From a body type standpoint (6-4, 283) you can see why the Colts went after Cline. Now, similar to the other defensive line names on this list, it’s a terrible numbers game for these guys trying to defy the odds in making the 53-man roster.
DT-Chris Williams (Wagner): Williams is listed at north of 300 pounds, so needs to try and bring a run-stopping ability to impress the staff. Williams had 22 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks as a two-year starter at the FCS school.