Early Season Superlatives Predictions
Draft season is behind us, and the NFL schedule was released, and now all eyes are on training camp. But let’s for a minute skip past training camp and predict how the season will turn out for the Colts. I’m high off the draft, and the recent banging signing of Eric Fisher got me thinking of who will be the MVP, Offensive rookie of the year, defensive rookie of the year, along with both offensive and defensive player of the year for the Colts roster.
To start, we focus on the Colts season MVP. For reference, my MVP for the Colts last season was Jonathan Taylor. We’re in store for some change, though. It’s an entirely different team and season. A new quarterback under center, new LT, Return of the Mack, and a new draft class. I have a few candidates lined up on guys I think who could win MVP for the Colts.
Colts MVP: Oline
Carson Wentz- the new sheriff in town, aims to replace Philip Rivers on and off the field. Wentz is an easy choice because you could change the “MVP” award to the best quarterback award. But with the lack of legit weapons for Wentz on the outside, I don’t think he’s the MVP.
Jonathan Taylor- The second-year running back comes into a unique spot this season. He’s more than likely not a workhorse this season with the return of Marlon Mack; and, of course, the usage of Nyheim Hines. The chances for an opportunity to strike for gold will diminish for Taylor. For that reason, I would scratch Taylor off of the MVP for the Colts race. Here’s a little tip for you fantasy players out there. Frank Reich doesn’t care about your fantasy team. Do not draft Colts running backs in the early rounds. If Taylor is there round two, go on and take him. But with Hines and Mack in the picture, Taylor has no business being a top 5 pick.
Deforest Buckner: a guy who came in last season and changed the outlook of the defense. If he produces the same numbers or better, he could very well be this team’s MVP at the end of the year. Playing teams like the Bills, Ravens, Cardinals, and the Seahawks, all who have mobile quarterbacks who can escape the pocket, Buckner will most definitely be in charge of limiting the amount the times those quarterbacks escape the pocket.
I’ve named some solid options to win the Colts in-house MVP, but the truth is it’s none of them. The Colts MVP will not be just one person individually but rather a group. The offensive line will undoubtedly be the offensive line as a group. The offensive line will be the catalyst to this season’s success or lack thereof. If this line can hold up and not let opposing defenses touch Wentz, this team can go far. Being strong upfront will not only allow Carson to return to Pro Bowl form but, in addition, would allow Taylor, Mack, and Hines to continue to be a strong suit for the team.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kylen Granson. Well, there aren’t many options for this pick. I don’t think Fries or Strachan have much impact. I could be wrong here, but I do have high hopes for Strachan as a player, but unsure if he has a significant influence in year one. But he does have a massive frame that could be used efficiently in the red zone. But overall, I think Granson is in the best position to succeed in year one. The TE group is not the strongest, to put it nicely. Doyle is aging, MAC isn’t elite, and Burton wasn’t resigned. I could see Granson taking the Burton role in the offense. Assuming the Colts don’t make a move for Ertz when he’s released, Granson is in the best spot to succeed. His yards after catch make an immediate weapon on the field.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Shawn Davis
While the easy answer would’ve been Paye, I don’t see Paye having big sack numbers. There is a possibility for it, obviously with Buckner up front who could eat up double teams, leaving an opening for Paye on the outside. This coaching staff has shown in previous years with guys like Turay, Lewis, and Banogu rookies may not see the most playtime. While I think Paye is different being a first-rounder. Ballard has preached competition, as has this coaching staff, so being a first-rounder doesn’t give you an advantage. But Paye seems different in his work ethic and headspace than the other guys. Now Davis is in a good spot. The Colts love to run three safeties on defense; the spot is there for him to contribute. A hard-hitting guy who loves to be around the ball makes sense. While his coverage may not be the strongest, he’s an absolute enforcer. One thing the Colts secondary lacked was a true enforcer. I’m a big fan of Willis. He, in my opinion, is one of the more underrated players on this entire roster. But Davis has the ability to abilities to be better than Willis. I love his versatility. I think he can play as another linebacker on run-downs with his hard-nosed play style.
Offensive Player of the Year: Carson Wentz.
This is Carson’s team now. For the offense to make a run in the playoffs, the passing game has to be on point, and that all on the shoulders of Wentz. Carson Wentz is very capable of leading this offense to the promise land. I believe the Colts will make a run, and in the process of that, Wentz will help create stars on offense like MPJ and Granson. We know this offense will be balanced with the scale leaning towards the run game just a tad. The run game can’t take them all the way. With that said, Carson Wentz and the passing game will need to step up.
Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Leonard.
This could be multiple players. Leonard, Buckner, Moore II, but in the end, it’s Leonard. This defense starts with Buckner, but it’s completed with Leonard. A healthy Leonard is what drives this defense forward. A healthy Leonard takes our defense from great to elite. Leonard will more than likely lead the team in tackles, racking up multiple sacks, multiple forced fumbles, and ultimately a stat that isn’t calculated game-changing plays. We’ve seen Leonard in the past season make game-saving and changing plays. He was forcing fumbles in the final seconds of the game, or a critical deflection that caused a turnover on downs. There’s no doubt this team is a “team” on defense where stats don’t matter, but now that Leonard will be one of the highest-paid players on defense, now is not the time to coast. Now is when he proves Chris Ballard right by making sure he’s playing to his contract’s worth.