Analysis

Grading Every Indianapolis Colts Position Group Going into 2022

NFL Running Back

The 2021 Indianapolis Colts were on the cusp of the playoffs until a shocking loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 18. Carson Wentz is out at QB, and Matt Ryan is in. The Colts have the talent to make a run for the AFC South and deep into the playoffs but need to put a full season together of consistent play to do so. 2022 is a big year for Frank Reich and the front office in Indianapolis to see if the organization is headed in the right direction.

QB: Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger, Jack Coan

Grade: B+

Explanation: This was a position under much debate during the 2021 offseason. The Colts took a chance on Carson Wentz for the 2021 season but ultimately felt an upgrade was needed to get them over the jump after a disappointing loss to Jacksonville in week 18 to kick them out of the playoffs. They made the move to sign the former league MVP in Matt Ryan and also bring in former Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, who won the award with Frank Reich as his offensive coordinator. Matt Ryan isn’t the quarterback he used to be but is still an established leader who has an upgrade in offensive weapons at his disposal in Indianapolis. On paper, this is an upgrade at the position, but a lot will be riding on the veteran to help lead this team back to the postseason.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Phillip Lindsay, Ty’Son Williams

Grade: A

Explanation: Taylor was the league leader in rushing yards by over 500 yards. Taylor showed an impressive display of speed and power that made him so productive last season. He will be the focal point of the offense going into 2022 where much of the team’s success will ride on his shoulders. Behind him, Nyheim Hines is a productive back that averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2021. The Colts also brought in Phillip Lindsay this season, while he hasn’t been the 1,000-yard rusher of 2018-2019, he can still be a viable option to give extra touches behind a quality offensive line.

WR: Michael Pittman Jr, Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, Dezmon Patmon, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, Keke Coutee, DeMichael Harris, Kekoa Crawford, Samson Nacua, Ethan Fernea, Michael Young Jr.

Grade: C

Explanation: Pittman was a 1,000-yard receiver last season and leads this group going into 2022. The colts spent a draft pick on Alec Pierce out of Cincinnati who has the tools to be a very solid WR in the NFL. Campbell had a 62.5 rating per PFF and is a good option as well. In the two deep, Patmon should see an increased role this season and Dulin is a speedy option. A lot will depend on the QB play from Matt Ryan to see if he can elevate this group’s play in 2022.

TE: Mo Alie-Cox, Kyler Granson, Jelani Woods, Andrew Ogletree

Grade: C-

Explanation: Mo Alie-Cox is a solid tight end who brings a good blend of run blocking receiving to this tight end group. Granson had 106 yards receiving last year as a rookie and will be relied upon to improve those numbers. The Colts drafted two new, big tight ends in Jelani Woods and Andrew Ogletree and their development in camp will determine how much of the field they will see in 2022.

OL: Matt Pryor, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Danny Pinter, Braden Smith, Dennis Kelly, Josh Seltzner, Wesley French, Will Fries, Jordan Murray, Bernhard Raimann, Carter O’Donnell, Brandon Kemp, Ryan Van Demark, Jason Spriggs

Grade: A

Explanation: This is one of the best offensive lines in football and the running game is a big reason because of them. The Colts have two very solid tackles in Pryor and Smith and one of the best guards in the NFL in Quenton Nelson, who should have an extension looming. Injuries and Covid became a problem for this unit last season but still managed to trot out a solid unit week in and week out. The Colts offense runs behind this offensive line and will be a big reason for their success in 2022. Raimann was a highly valued OL prospect in this past draft and the Colts took him in the third round. He should be another quality developmental piece in case of injury to one of the starters.

DL: Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyquan Lewis, Eric Johnson, Chris Williams, Dayo Odeyingbo, Ben Banogu, Curtis Brooks, Rj McIntosh, Kameron Cline, Scott Patchan, Ifeadi Odenigbo

Grade: A-

Explanation: DeForest Buckner is one of the best interior DL in the NFL. He had 40 tackles and 7 sacks a season ago. Grover Stewart is also another very solid interior DL who had a 72.6 grade on PFF. Kwity Paye had an under the radar rookie season where he had a 20% pass rush win rate and 20 hurries with his 4 sacks. The Colts also acquired Ngakoue from the Raiders via a trade, and he brings an immediate pass rush presence as he had 10 sacks last season. This was a solid defensive front last season that has only improved going into 2022 and will be a force to deal with in the AFC South.

LB: Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin, EJ Speed, Forrest Rhyne, Jojo Domann, Brandon King, Sterling Weatherford, Trevor Denbow, James Skalski

Grade: B+

Explanation: Darius Leonard highlights this group because he is one of the best off ball linebackers in the NFL. He had 122 total tackles, 8 forced fumbles, and 4 INT a season ago. He is a ballhawk that flies around the field. Zaire Franklin and Bobby Okereke are strong LB to pair with Leonard to make this a very solid group. There is not a ton of depth behind these three as EJ Speed brings the most experience. A lot will rely on the health of the starters to carry and lead this unit.

CB: Kenny Moore II, Stephon Gilmore, Isaiah Rodgers, Will Redmond, Brandon Facyson, Marvel Tell III, Alexander Myres, Chris Wilcox, Marcel Dabo, Anthony Chesley, Dallis Folwers

Grade: A

Explanation: Kenny Moore II is coming off a breakout year where he made the Pro Bowl and the Colts added one of the best CB of the past decade in Stephon Gilmore. Those two will make up for a matchup nightmare for opposing coordinators. Isaiah Rodgers played all 17 games last season and posted a 71.8 coverage grade and is another great corner in this group. This is a solid group from last year that has only improved.

S: Rodney McLeod, Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross, Trevor Denbow, Armani Watts, Rodney Thomas II

Grade: C

Explanation: McLeod comes to Indianapolis from Philadelphia as an experienced veteran to help lead this group. Julian Blackmon and rookie from Maryland, Nick Cross are the two others in competition to start. Blackmon posted a 60.7 overall grade in 2021 but an 81.0 run defense grade. This is one of the position groups with a question mark on it going into 2022. Depending how camp and preseason goes will determine the starters at this group.

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