INDIANAPOLIS – The positions of strength on an NFL roster can be viewed in a couple of ways.
Are we talking the positions with the best frontline starters?
Or the ones with the most depth?
In combining both of those aspects, let’s take a look at the Colts best positions of strength for the 2020 season:
1. Linebacker: It’s been an upheaval of personnel at linebacker. Chris Ballard wanted to change the skillset that the Colts were looking for in the middle of their defense. That means longer and more athletic body types, who excel in the ability to run and strike. Darius Leonard is a stud. And Anthony Walker is pretty steady. Those two are the frontliners of the position group, with Bobby Okereke knocking on starting door in Year Two. Considering that teams typically have just two linebackers on the field for around 75 percent of their defensive snaps nowadays, the Colts should feel very good about what they have at linebacker. We will see if 2019 fifth-round pick E.J. Speed can force himself into any role.
2. Running Back: Some might argue the importance of this position group in today’s NFL, but the Colts have clearly invested a good amount into it. That’s four draft picks in Rounds 2-5, over the last four drafts, occupying the depth chart. You have Marlon Mack, but still felt the need to trade up in Round 2 and take Jonathan Taylor. The shiftier Nyheim Hines has carved out a role in Frank Reich’s offense. And then Jordan Wilkins is probably 4th on the depth chart. Even though this position might not have a definite Pro Bowler, there’s real quality depth.
3. Offensive Line: We might hear from a person or two on why the offensive line group ranking 3rd on this list. But let’s remember, we are factoring in depth, too. The Colts don’t have a single backup offensive lineman who played an offensive snap in the NFL last year. The starting lineup of this group is the best on the team. When you are talking about the offensive line though, you cannot ignore the backups. And the Colts have some definite questions there.
4. Defensive Line: When you are talking pure depth, this is easily one of the best positions groups on this team. It’s kind of the opposite of the offensive line. You have some nice starters along the defensive line, but the true strength is in numbers. You could have ‘backups’ in Denico Autry, Sheldon Day, Ben Banogu, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad. All of those guys have started games in the NFL, and/or were high draft picks.
5. Tight End: This one was difficult to choose. There’s definitely a drop from No. 4 to No. 5. We’ll say the tight ends because you expect the group to be steady, led by Jack Doyle. After Doyle, you have Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox factoring into playing time. If healthy, that trio should be enough for a Frank Reich offense.
Thoughts: The 5th spot was tough for me to decide on. I thought about quarterback and wide receiver, but the disparity at those positions is a little too much for my liking. Defensively, the secondary has a few questions that still need to be answered. We know a massive goal for Chris Ballard has been to build the trenches and repair the defense. Seeing those position groups on this list has him feeling confident about the 2020 outlook of the Colts.