INDIANAPOLIS – It is time to make the final 53-man roster projection for the 2022 Indianapolis Colts.
With Saturday’s conclusion to the preseason, attention now turns to final roster cuts, which are due Tuesday by 4:00 PM eastern.
Here is my final 53-man roster projection (number of players currently on the roster, numbers of players being kept, numbers of players kept there last year):
Quarterbacks (4/3/2): Jack Coan*, Sam Ehlinger, Nick Foles, Matt Ryan
Bowen’s Analysis: I’ve gone back and forth on this. I still think the Colts are in a good enough health situation to stash Ehlinger on the 53-man roster as their 3rd QB. When things quiet down on the roster cut front, maybe that’s when you can sneak Ehlinger over to the practice squad.
Running Backs (6/4/4): Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson, Phillip Lindsay, D’Vonte Price*, Jonathan Taylor, Ty’Son Williams
Bowen’s Analysis: To me, Lindsay is easily the 3rd running back, although it was interesting that Jackson started over him on Saturday. I’ll put Jackson on the 53-man roster purely for special teams. His roster spot, for me, opened up when Drew Ogletree tore his ACL. Price is a name I’ve thought about in the last few days.
Wide Receivers (11/6/6): Parris Campbell, Keke Coutee, Ashton Dulin, DeMichael Harris, Ethan Fernea*, Samson Nacua*, Dezmon Patmon, Alec Pierce*, Michael Pittman, Mike Strachan, Michael Young*
Bowen’s Analysis: One thing I struggle with here at wideout is picking the 6 best receivers, or picking the 6 best guys for game day. Those are different things, with a heavy special teams influence on the latter of those. With Mike Strachan back and healthy, he’s shown me enough to put him on the 53-man roster. Coutee is a guy I like for Parris Campbell insurance. Is it him or Dezmon Patmon for the 6th wideout? Who is easiest to clear through waivers of Patmon and Coutee? If the Colts want to keep Hines off punt returns, that would enhance the need for Coutee.
Tight Ends (5/3/3): Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Michael Jacobson, Nikola Kalinic, Jelani Woods*
Bowen’s Analysis: With Drew Ogletree on injured reserve, I don’t see the need for a 4th tight end, unless that guy can greatly help you on special teams. I would put Michael Jacobson or Nikola Kalinic on the practice squad. This is a position I’d look into on the waiver wire.
Offensive Line (13/8/8): Ryan Ven Damark*, Wesley French*, Will Fries, Dennis Kelly, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Murray, Quenton Nelson, Danny Pinter, Matt Pryor, Bernhard Raimann*, Josh Seltzner*, Braden Smith
Bowen’s Analysis: The depth of this group I don’t feel very good about. It’s very unproven, with Dennis Kelly still sidelined following a knee procedure early in camp. For Chris Ballard, 8 offensive linemen is too small of a number, so I’ll go with a waiver wire move here to open up another spot.
Defensive Line (14/10/11): Ben Banogu, Curtis Brooks*, DeForest Buckner, Kameron Cline, Byron Cowart, Eric Johnson*, Tyquan Lewis, R.J. McIntosh, Yannick Ngakoue, Dayo Odeyingbo, Ifeadi Odeingbo, Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart, Chris Williams
Bowen’s Analysis: Again, whittling down this position group has been difficult. Keeping 10 for a long stretch might be unlikely, but I’ll go with that for my initial number at defensive line. Out of Banogu, Cline and Odeingbo, I’m going with 2 of those 3 guys on my current 53-man roster. I could see another one of them cut though for an interior option. Banogu has had less flash/production than Cline and Odeingbo, but I could see the new defensive staff giving him one final chance. With Williams returning to practice this week, is he an interior option? The interior DL depth is a question for me.
Linebackers (9/6/6): JoJo Domann*, Zaire Franklin, Brandon King, Shaquille Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Forrest Rhyne*, James Skalski*, EJ Speed, Sterling Weatherford*
Bowen’s Analysis: Ever since the spring, I’ve gone with the undrafted free agent in Domann to make the team. There might be room for another undrafted linebacker, so I’ll go with Weatherford (the Cicero, Indiana native), although the other undrafted guys in Rhyne and Skalski have impressed me in camp, too. King is thought to be a special teams guy, more so than helping at linebacker, but he did injure his hamstring last week so that’s something to monitor. Leonard’s lingering health situation could be a factor here, too. Could he remain on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, thus opening up a roster spot? For now, I’ll put him on the 53-man roster.
Cornerbacks (11/5/7): Tony Brown, Anthony Chesley, Brandon Facyson, Dallis Flowers*, Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Moore, Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell, Chris Wilcox
Bowen’s Analysis: I don’t have a ton of debate here, but Brown is a name I keep on thinking about. Brown, like Brandon Facyson, has multi-team history with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus. Brown and Chesley is the debate I have for the 5th corner spot. Getting Flowers on the practice squad is something to explore.
Safeties (8/5/3): Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross*, Marcel Dabo*, Trevor Denbow*, Rodney McLeod, Will Redmond, Rodney Thomas*, Armani Watts
Bowen’s Analysis: I thought Thomas had a really good preseason finale, so he’s my 4th safety. The final safety spots comes down to special teams for me. Watts suffering a season-ending injury to his ankle in Saturday’s preseason finale was a big blow to a guy who could have helped you on special teams. So I’ll go with undrafted rookie Denbow, who has shown some special teams flash in coverage this month. Dabo will be with the Colts in 2022 on an international roster exemption.
Specialists (4/3/3): K-Rodrigo Blankenship, LS-Luke Rhodes, P-Rigoberto Sanchez, P-Matt Haack
Bowen’s Analysis: Blankenship won whatever battle there was with Verity. Haack is the new punter, with Sanchez tearing his Achilles.