INDIANAPOLIS – The signs of an NFL football season nearing continue to pour in.
Another came on Tuesday when the Colts released their first depth chart of the season, with Sunday’s season opener against Seattle waiting.
As always, there’s a lot to dissect from the depth chart.
Here is the Colts first official depth chart of the 2021 season, with my thoughts below:
-Quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason
-Running Back: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins
-Wide Receiver: Zach Pascal
-Wide Receiver: Michael Pittman, Ashton Dulin
-Wide Receiver: Parris Campbell, Mike Strachan
-Tight End: Jack Doyle
-Tight End: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson*
-Left Tackle: Eric Fisher, Julie’n Davenport
-Left Guard: Quenton Nelson, Chris Reed
-Center: Ryan Kelly, Danny Pinter
-Right Guard: Mark Glowinski, Will Fries
-Right Tackle: Braden Smith, Matt Pryor
-Left Defensive End: Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyquan Lewis, Isaac Rochell
-Nose Tackle: Grover Stewart, Taylor Stallworth
-Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner, Chris Williams
-Right Defensive End: Kwity Paye, Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu
-WILL Linebacker: Darius Leonard, E.J. Speed, Jordan Glasgow
-MIKE Linebacker: Bobby Okereke
-SAM Linebacker: Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams
-Cornerback: Xavier Rhodes, BoPete Keyes
-Cornerback: Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers, Chris Wilcox
-Nickel Cornerback: Kenny Moore, T.J. Carrie
-Free Safety: Julian Blackmon, T.J. Carrie
-Strong Safety: Khari Willis, George Odum
-Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship
-Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez
-Long Snapper: LS-Luke Rhodes
-Punt Returner: Nyheim Hines, Isaiah Rogers
-Kick Returner: Isaiah Rodgers, Ashton Duiln
-Remember, quarterback Brett Hundley remains on the practice squad with Sam Ehlinger on injured reserve to start the season.
-Seeing Marlon Mack in that No. 3 RB spot, behind Nyheim Hines, is no surprise to me. Personally, I’d be putting Jordan Wilkins into the game before Mack on Sunday. Per usual, it’ll be interesting to see how the Colts divvy up the carries behind Jonathan Taylor.
-At wide receiver, Michael Pittman, Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell are going to play a whole lot. Then the Colts are going to have their pick in what they want skillset wise. Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan are your current options there with Dezmon Patmon and T.Y. Hilton on IR. I expect Strachan to have a small, situational Week 1 role. The Colts do have veteran Keke Coutee on the practice squad if they want to promote him.
-Even though Eric Fisher is eligible to practice on Wednesday, it’s hard to see him being ready for Week 1 with this being his first ever practice time with the Colts. So, look for Julie’n Davenport to start at left tackle. My guess is that newcomer Matt Pryor will be the swing tackle backup, and then Chris Reed will be the top interior backup.
-Some might be surprised to see Al-Quadin Muhammad as the starter opposite Kwity Paye. But that’s been the case since Tyquan Lewis injured his shoulder mid-way through camp. Expect Lewis to still play a good amount, as he’s back practicing, and be an interior pass rush option in those situations. As always, the Colts will rotate tons of bodies up front. My expectation for the 3rd down rush group: LDE-Kemoko Turay, DT-DeForest Buckner, DT-Tyquan Lewis, RDE-Kwity Paye.
-It should be Zaire Franklin as the third linebacker, when the Colts go to that base personnel grouping. E.J. Speed is back from a multi-week absence due to a knee injury.
-At cornerback, we mentioned that Rock Ya-Sin won this battle with T.J. Carrie, mainly due to availability. Carrie is back to practice, but his depth presence is needed in several spots, as you can see with the safety position not set in stone at all behind Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon. Ya-Sin is the likely Week 1 starter in the nickel package.
-The Colts should have a pretty potent returner duo in Nyheim Hines (punt) and Isaiah Rodgers (kick).