INDIANAPOLIS – The trend has continued for where the Colts are best suited.
It’s in the trenches where the Colts continue to build.
Let’s examine the top 5 positions of strength for the Colts entering 2022:
In high-end quality and versatility, the Colts have arguably the best 1-2 punch in the NFL.
Jonathan Taylor’s resume speaks for itself. He’s one of the best players in the NFL, and looks like a rare exception to the concern of riding just one back.
Behind Taylor is the versatile Nyheim Hines, who can/should be a matchup problem at a couple of different spots.
We can debate if this is the best way to build a team in today’s NFL. But the combo of Taylor/Hines is right up there with any in the NFL.
Depth at defensive tackle is a little bit up in the air.
But the Colts have a really sound 2-to-2.5 guys in the middle of their defensive line.
For a third straight year, DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart will man the two starting defensive tackle spots.
When passing downs arise, the Colts can take Stewart off the field and see what a healthy Dayo Odeyingbo can bring. If healthy, Tyquan Lewis could be an option here, too.
It’ll be interesting to watch the new defensive line style (more up field, attacking right off the snap) impact things with Gus Bradley now coordinating the defensive.
While the Darius Leonard injury question could shift things here, the continuity at linebacker remains.
Bobby Okereke is again the starting MIKE linebacker, with plenty of incentive in a contract year.
Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed are different options the Colts can turn to when they need a 3rd linebacker on the field.
Having such a dynamic linebacker in Leonard gives the Colts a major playmaker at a position that one doesn’t initially think of looking there to find such ability.
Let’s make this clear, the Colts offensive line is no longer elite.
It’s a good unit, but not in the elite category anymore.
The Colts are searching for two new starters at left tackle and right guard, with little proven experience at those spots.
But a trio of Quenton Nelson at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center and Braden Smith at right tackle is a really solid foundation to start with up front.
I can’t recall the last time the Colts had this position group on the ‘strength’ list.
However, the arrival of Yannick Ngakoue gives the Colts an accomplished rusher who is going to draw constant attention.
An expected jump from Kwity Paye also helps put this group here.
Depth isn’t obvious, but the Colts have some other options in Odeyingbo, Lewis and newcomer Ifeadi Odeingbo.
So much is riding on Ngakoue in placing this group on a top-5 position strength list.