Projected Lineups: Indianapolis Colts
A year after returning to the post season after a one year hiatus, the Indianapolis Colts ran out comfortable winners of a poor AFC South division. While they were able to mount one of the most impressive comebacks in NFL history against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs only to fall to the New England Patriots the following week.
They will be favorites again in the AFC South this year, but their roster has a fair few areas that need to be improved if they are to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this coming season, though they will be in a position to do just that.
– Player markers are colored per class on a six-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– Andrew Luck flashes some moments of absolute brilliance, there’s no denying that. However, he also has moments that just leave you scratching your head and it’s hard to ignore them. He has the potential to get much better, but cutting down on those mistakes will be key.
– Tight end Dwayne Allen was a big loss last year, going down for the season in the first game. One of the best tight ends in the league in his rookie year, and one of the few who excelled both as a receiver and in blocking, there’s nothing to suggest he won’t be at that level again in 2014.
– The offensive line is a bit of a mixed bag, with Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus solid players on the right side. At left tackle, Anthony Castonzo has been too up and down to be considered anything more than average at this point, while Samson Satele and Hugh Thornton are the weak links.
– Robert Mathis is the star of the bunch, but the rest of the linebackers leave a lot to be desired. Neither Erik Walden nor Bjoern Werner are going to instill much fear into opposing offensive tackles if last season is anything to go by.
– With Antoine Bethea scheduled to become a free agent, it leaves Delano Howell as a potential starter at one safety spot. His 212 snaps aren’t enough to make a fair judgment on him at this stage, but five missed tackles on those snaps doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence, despite an impressive preseason from the 2012 undrafted free agent.
2014 Cap Situation
They’re in great shape. $33.9 million in cap space will allow them to be as aggressive as they want to be, allowing them to improve enough to put themselves in position to contend in the AFC. They haven’t been shy about making a splash in recent years, with plenty of roster turnover, and there’s every possibility they’ll do just that again this year. They have a small window without paying top money for a quarterback, with Luck likely to command a big deal in the next couple of years, so they may wish to throw caution to the wind with some short term deals to take advantage while they have that luxury.
Despite being in great shape already, the Colts can still free up even more cap space. Satele would represent $4 million in savings, and given that this looks to be a fairly decent from of free agent centers, they may look to upgrade there. It’s highly unlikely that they would even consider it, but in his advancing years, Reggie Wayne would free up another $4 million, but would they really want to take away Luck’s top target? It just doesn’t seem likely to us.
Opportunities from the Roster
Linebackers Josh McNary (+2.0) and Andy Studebaker (+2.9) combined to play just 159 snaps in the regular season, but they certainly didn’t look terrible doing it. Undrafted receiver Da’Rick Rogers didn’t see the field until Week 14 but had a breakout performance when he did, catching six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Projected lineups by team:
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