INDIANAPOLIS –.It was quite the up and down year from a Colts rookie class that had a bunch of fanfare on it.
With 2023 season complete, it’s time to look back on how the rookie seasons went.
Here’s a look at how the rookies have performed:
1. QB-Anthony RichardsonSource:Getty
After playing in 4 games, logging 173 snaps, the rookie season for Anthony Richardson ended in Week 5. Right shoulder surgery limited Richardson to play 15 percent of the total snaps the Colts offense had this season. That was a massive bummer, especially after Richardson showed some promising moments in his limited sample size on the field.
2. CB-JuJu BrentsSource:Getty
Unfortunately, the injury bug never really went away for Brents. The Warren Central product ended up playing 42 percent of the defensive snaps, but his season started and ended with an injury. The start was a wrist injury that kept Brents off the field for all of the spring offseason program. A hamstring injury in training camp then sidelined Brents for multiple weeks of practice at Grand Park. Brents made his NFL debut in Week 3, and was immediately tossed into a starting role. A quad injury in Week 7 though sidelined him for nearly two months. Brents returned in Week 14 and was put back into the starting lineup, before a hamstring injury in the season finale ended his season. The early returns of Brents included some nice moments, but he missed some extremely valuable practice and game action, at a position the Colts were desperate to have him on the field.
3. WR-Josh DownsSource:Getty
As expected, Downs was a consistent and reliable option in his rookie season. Downs was the Colts slot receiver and a popular target, no matter if it was Anthony Richardson or Gardner Minshew at quarterback. In playing all 17 games, Downs had 68 catches for 771 yards and 2 touchdowns while playing 69 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. The Colts have a nice piece to their offense of the future in Downs.
4. OT-Blake FreelandSource:Getty
Injuries led to Freeland getting 9 total starting chances at left and right tackle. That included matchups against Aaron Donald and Myles Garrett. What tremendous introductions to the NFL for the 4th round pick out of BYU. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Freeland didn’t look too, too overwhelmed at either tackle spot. Not many had Freeland pegged for the second-most rookie snaps on offense in 2023, but that’s how the season unfolded, with Braden Smith’s injury issues being a major reason why.
5. DL-Adetomiwa AdebaworeSource:Getty
The 4th round pick out of Northwestern needed until the 4th game of his NFL career to record his first stat. Overall, it was a limited playing rookie campaign for Adebawore. In total, Adebawore finished his rookie season with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 132 defensive snaps. Adebawore was a healthy inactive in several games, with the Grover Stewart suspension not even opening up much of a door for him playing wise time.
6. CB-Darius RushSource:Getty
The Colts surprisingly cut Rush at the end of the preseason, making him the 2nd highest draft pick Chris Ballard has cut before their rookie campaign (OT-Zach Banner was pick No. 137 in 2017, Rush was No. 138 in 2023). Rush first joined the Chiefs and is now with the Steelers. He played a total of 39 snaps with the Steelers in his rookie campaign.
7. S-Daniel ScottSource:Getty
Scott, the 24-year-old rookie, tore his ACL back in the spring offseason program, thus ending his first year in the NFL. It was an obvious bummer for Scott, especially with some other injuries at safety opening up depth spots during training camp. Scott has been rehabbing in Indy and was a very frequent attender of meetings/practices, which is something the staff took note of.
8. TE-Will MallorySource:Getty
After a rough offseason for Mallory in the availability department, he ended up playing a decent role for the Colts in 2023. When he was on the field, you saw some reasons why the Colts staff is intrigued by his future. Mallory finished his rookie year with 18 catches (26 targets) for 207 yards in 12 games. Mallory played 159 offensive snaps (20 percent).
9. RB-Evan HullSource:Getty
Throughout this offseason, we thought Hull had a great chance to earn a Day 1 role. It likely would have been there for him but a torn meniscus in the season opener ended up being a severe enough injury to end Hull’s rookie season. Would Hull have been in that Tyler Goodson role to end the season?
10. DE-Titus LeoSource:Getty
As training camp moved along you saw more and more from the Wagner product. Unfortunately, a knee injury sent Leo to injured reserve. Like Jake Witt below, Leo having to miss all game/practice action in his rookie season was less than ideal given the big jump. Like Scott, Leo and Witt are also in Indy rehabbing their respective season-ending injuries.
11. CB-Jaylon JonesSource:Getty
After a nice offseason, earning an initial spot ahead of JuJu Brents on the cornerback depth chart, Jones ended up playing the most of any Colts rookie this season. As you’d expect with a rookie cornerback, Jones had some growing pains seen under the bright lights. But he also had some nice moments as well. It’ll be interesting to see how the Colts handle cornerback this offseason, with that impacting Jones’ role in 2024.
12. OT-Jake WittSource:Getty
A hip injury early in training camp ended Witt’s rookie season, with a trip to injured reserve. The bummer for this comes from Witt, a likely 2023 “redshirt” anyways, missing out on a year of practice squad reps. That would have been critical as he transitions from Northern Michigan.
13. DE-Isaiah LandSource:Getty
The Colts claimed Land from Dallas at the end of the preseason. Land played in 7 games (31 defensive snaps) for the Colts, recording 6 tackles and 1 sack. Land was a 2023 6th round pick of the Cowboys, putting up some very impressive sack numbers at Florida A&M.
14. CB-Ameer SpeedSource:Getty
After playing 5 games for the Patriots, as a 6th round pick of New England, Speed then joined the Colts off a waiver claim. Speed played 8 games in Indy (2 defensive snaps), almost exclusively on special teams (154 snaps). Honestly, Speed’s rookie season will probably be most remembered for a critical offsides penalty against the Falcons and running into Isaiah McKenzie on a punt in Cincinnati.