Veterans report to Training Camp on Tuesday, which means football season is almost here, and fans will flood Grand Park as soon as camp opens.
With high expectations coming into this season, I expect this Colts training camp to be more exciting than any training camp we’ve had in recent history. There will be plenty of storylines to follow, and we’ve got you covered at The Blue Stable. I look forward to sharing with you who I think makes the roster and practice squad.
Before I give you my pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction, make sure you follow me on Twitter @Zschankerman01 and @TheBlue_Stable on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you get your Colts news.
Disclaimer: (#) means the number of players in that position group that make the roster
Made the cut: Matt Ryan and Nick Foles
To me, this is a no-brainer. Foles is a better backup quarterback than Ehlinger. If Ryan ever missed time or the Colts had a big lead, you’d want Foles in the game. Foles is a proven, veteran option who won’t get you beat, and that’s what you want in a backup.
Running Backs (3)
Made the cut: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Phillip Lindsay
I think this is the strongest position group the Colts have, so again, this was easy to think about who was going to make the cut. With seven running backs currently on the 90-man roster, I think it will be an extremely competitive battle to see who makes the practice squad. I can even see a 4th running back making the team.
I’m excited to see what Hines can do with Matt Ryan, and I think Lindsay was a really underrated signing by Chris Ballard. Lindsay is a reliable ball carrier who can produce when called upon, and I think his addition will allow Hines to be more featured in the passing game. He’s also a guy you can ask to protect a lead and take the load off of Taylor.
Overall, I’m really excited about this position group.
Wide Receivers (6)
Made the cut: Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Keke Coutee, and Dezmon Patmon
I think this is easily the worst position group on the roster by far, and it may be one of the worst wide receiver groups in the entire NFL. After Pittman, there seems to be plenty of questions and not many answers.
I really like Pierce and think he can be one of the better WRs from this year’s rookie class, but after that, you have a player who can’t stay healthy in Campbell, a special teamer in Dulin, a gadget player in Coutee, and Patmon who hasn’t seen the field much.
I really hope the team adds another wide receiver or two because I think this is the one position group that is holding the Colts back from reaching their high potential.
Tight Ends (3)
Made the Cut: Mo Alie-Cox, Jelani Woods, and Kylen Granson
I think this group is critical to the Colts’ success this season. If Ballard doesn’t add another WR and that group struggles to get production early, Matt Ryan and Frank Reich may look to the tight ends to make up for the lack of production in the passing game.
I think Granson and Alie-Cox will be the greatest beneficiaries of Ryan’s addition. I also love the upside of both Woods and Ogletree. Woods in particular, could end up being one of the best tight ends in the NFL in the near future. He’s always open, knows how to use his body, and moves extremely well for his size. If Ogletree doesn’t make the roster, he’s a sure-fire bet to make the Practice Squad.
Offensive Line (10)
The Starters: LT Bernhard Raimann, LG Quenton Nelson, C Ryan Kelly, RG Matt Pryor, RT Braden Smith
The Bench: G/C Danny Pinter, OT Ryan Van Demark, G Josh Seltzner, OT Dennis Kelly, G/T Will Fries
We know how much Ballard likes to build in the trenches, and we also know the injury history of players like Nelson, Kelly, and Smith. That’s why I have the Colts keeping 10 Offensive Linemen on the 53-man roster. This group has developmental upside, experience, and talent.
Defensive Line (10)
Made the Cut: Kwity Paye, Yannick Ngakoue, Deforest Buckner, Dayo Odeyingbo, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Eric Johnson, Curtis Brooks, Ifeadi Odenigbo, and Byron Cowart.
Out of all the position groups, the defensive line unit boasts the most intrigue. Led by rookie DL coach Nate Ollie and DC Gus Bradley, the Colts intend to use more of an attack-style front which will allow the athletic defensive linemen the Colts have to get upfield and rush the QB. If Paye takes another step and Odeyingbo develops more, the Colts will suddenly go from one of the worst pass-rushing units to one of the best.
Made the Cut: Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Sterling Weatherford, Jojo Domann, EJ Speed, Zaire Franklin
Under the direction of veteran Linebackers coach Richard Smith, I think this group will continue to be one of the better ones in the NFL. I’m anxious to watch Jojo Domann and Sterling Weatherford as reports out of minicamp were nothing but positive.
Made the Cut: Julian Blackmon, Rodney McLeod, Nick Cross, Armani Watts
I think rostering four safeties is enough even with the likelihood of 3-safety looks at times. It’s worth mentioning that Sterling Weatherford was a Safety in college and Jojo Domann saw some playing time as Safety at Nebraska.
I loved the addition of McLeod and am hopeful that Blackmon will recover well and return to his normal self. I am also especially intrigued by Nick Cross, as he is the quintessential Gus Bradley safety, and he will be hard to keep off the field.
Made the Cut: Stephon Gilmore, Brandon Facyson, Isaiah Rodgers, Kenny Moore, Rodney Thomas, Dallis Flowers
Even with the loss of Rock Ya-Sin, I think this group did ultimately get better. I think the world of Rodgers and think there’s even a chance he could be just as good as Gilmore this season. Also, don’t forget Facyson, the veteran corner has followed Gus Bradley at every stop and knows his system like the back of his hand.
I really like the draft selection of Thomas because this was a guy that Mike Derice had scouted heavily and he helped Chris Ballard find some really good players for the Colts as an area scout. Flowers is also intriguing to me because of his physical traits, small-school background, and ability as a return man.
Made the Cut: P Rigoberto Sanchez, K Rodrigo Blankenship, LS Luke Rhodes
The only questionable specialist on this list to me is Blankenship, but this group likely will stay the same. Hopefully, this group stays healthy, especially Blankenship, because I don’t want the Colts to have to pivot to another kicker mid-season again.
Practice Squad (14)
Made the Squad: QB Sam Ehlinger, TE Drew Ogletree, RB D’vonte Price, DB Marcel Dabo, TE Michael Jacobson, WR Mike Strachan, DE Kameron Cline, DB Marvell Tell III, OT Brandon Kemp, LB Forrest Rhyne, DB Anthony Chesley, C/G Wesley French, WR De’Michael Harris, DT Chris Williams
Ehlinger gets demoted to the Practice Squad, and I think this works out for him. Sitting behind Ryan and Foles will be good for his career. Drew Ogletree could end up getting promoted to the active roster and making an impact. I really like his upside, and the Colts were on him for several years. Overall, the practice squad is full of players with developmental upside and guys who can step up when their name is called.
There are very few holes on this roster. However, the Colts have to do something about the WR group. It sticks out like a sore thumb. If they don’t address it, it could end up being the thing that holds them back from forging a deep postseason run.
This has the makings of a roster primed to have huge success. How much success is dependent on the development of the young talent and the fit of the new acquisitions.
Who should I have put on the active roster or practice squad that I didn’t? Let me know on Twitter @Zschankerman01 and @TheBlue_Stable on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you get your Colts news to join the discussion.