Predicting the Indianapolis Colts' Week 1 Starting Lineup
With several major acquisitions under their belts, the Indianapolis Colts are looking pretty solid. They have picked up Donald Thomas, Matt Hasselbeck, Gosder Cherilus, Ricky Jean-Francois, Erik Walden, Laron Landry, Greg Toler and Lawrence Sidbury. The Colts also re-signed Fili Moala and cornerback Darius Butler.
So far, they have spent $34.3 million cap dollars. They have roughly $10.181 million in cap space left for the 2013 season. There is still enough money to make some solid acquisitions. The draft will also affect the starting lineup.
However, here's a quick rundown on the potential starting lineup for Week 1 of the 2013 season.
QB: Andrew Luck
This is a no-brainer. It’s Andrew Luck. Unless for some reason he gets horribly injured in a motorcycle accident and Matt Hasselbeck has to come in.
Of course, Hasselbeck as an $8 million insurance policy is a great investment.
Hopefully, Luck starts all 16 games and Hasselbeck is only on the sidelines as support.
RB: Vick Ballard
He is the starter because he is the best. He has shown real talent and improved greatly in the last season. He is better than Donald Brown. He rushed for 811 yards and scored three touchdowns in his rookie year.
The Colts did not pick up any other running backs, so his start is cemented.
WR: Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton
Reggie Wayne is an obvious starter. The man is unparalleled by any other receiver on the team. He was a major factor in the Colts' success last season. He was a favourite target for Andrew Luck, finishing the season with 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns.
The coming season may allow for even more impressive numbers as Luck and Wayne now have a year together under their belts. Let’s hope they build off their first successful season.
T.Y. Hilton will be the No. 2 receiver. He is young and has showed some talent. He had a high number of drops last season, but he was a rookie. Hopefully this year he will have a more solid relationship with Andrew Luck that will improve his stats.
TE: Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen
Dwayne Allen was the stronger of the two in the previous season, and this will most likely continue.
Coby Fleener was not a bad player, but he had some rough moments. However, he should be a much stronger player this season under Pep Hamilton’s new offensive scheme. Last season, Fleener had 26 catches for 281 yards with two touchdowns. Allen had 45 catches for a total of 521 yards and three touchdowns.
LT: Anthony Castonzo
Anthony Castonzo was one of the few shining stars on the offensive line last season. He was by far the best run-blocker.
However, to be fair, he did struggle to protect Andrew Luck against the edge-rushers. His season should be greatly improved in 2013 with a new, upgraded offensive line around him.
LG: Donald Thomas
Donald Thomas is a great upgrade for the Colts. He really proved himself last season with the Patriots. He was actually graded as a top-20 guard in Pro Football Focus. He is more than ready to be a starter.
He may also be used at right guard, depending on what the Colts manage to pick up.
C: Draft: Barrett Jones
The Colts should not use A.Q Shipley or Samson Satele. Both suffered from injury and lackluster play last season.
I think that the Colts will fill this spot in the draft. I would love to see Barrett Jones from Alabama get picked up. He is spectacular as a center and his value is increased by his versatility at the offensive line. He can play several positions, which could come in handy for the Colts.
RG: Reitz or Draft
I do not want to see the Colts using Joe Reitz as their starter for the guard position again. There haven't been any new acquisitions through free agency.
Therefore, I believe that the Colts will draft someone to fill this spot.
Reitz was rated badly as both a run- and pass-blocker by Pro Football Focus, not to mention his knee and concussion issues. If no one is picked up, he will start, but he would be better as a backup.
RT: Gosder Cherilus
Cherilus has started a total of 71 games in his five-year career. However, he really stepped up last season for the Detroit Lions. He is an immediate upgrade for the Colts at the right guard position.
The only issue is that he is coming off knee surgery. If he's not healthy, he will obviously not be the Colts' starter—but he should be healthy by the season's start.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri is one of the most famous kickers of the decade. He is well known as a clutch kicker who won was responsible for winning many games throughout his career. The Colts are lucky to have him, and there is no doubt that he will be the starter.
Last season, he made 78.8 percent of his kicks and was ranked 30th in the league. He may be old, but he still has the talent and he will be the starter.
Punter: Pat McAfee
Pat McAfee is safe with the Colts for another year. He was given the franchise tag this year with a guaranteed $3 million.
He is a holder, kickoff specialist and one of the best tackling punters in the league. He also has a great personality and is loved by the entire franchise.
Kick Returner: Cassius Vaughn
Cassius was re-signed to a one-year, $1.323 million contract with the Colts.
While his playing time as a cornerback will go down with the signing of Greg Toler, he has still has value as a kick returner. He is only 25 and still has time to improve.
Punt Returner: T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton will be taking on some more responsibility this season with the departure of Donnie Avery. Other than being Luck's second-favourite target as a receiver, he is a punt returner.
In his rookie season he made a difference in Week 12 against the Bills, returning a 75-yard punt. This type of play will guarantee him the starting position.
LDE: Cory Redding
Cory Redding was a free-agent signing from 2012. He had to be helped off the field in Week 11. He suffered a hip injury against the Patriots and did not return that season. Previous to this he suffered a knee injury.
As long as he is completely healthy, he will be the starter.
NT: Aubrayo Franklin
The veteran nose tackle was signed by the Colts this offseason. This is a very important position in the 3-4 scheme. Franklin will be performing a lot of grunt work to allow his linebackers to make plays. He is no stranger to hard work and will fit in nicely as a starter for the Colts.
DT: Ricky Jean-Francois
The Colts signed Ricky Jean-Francois this season from the 49ers for four years and $22 million. He has only played 27 percent of the defensive snaps, with a career 33 tackles and three sacks. It's hard to imagine what the Colts saw in him to pay him $22 million; but his paycheck signifies he is a starter.
LOLB: Robert Mathis
Robert Mathis is healthy again and will be the starter on the left side. Nobody is better than "the rhino" on the Colts for this position.
LILB: Pat Angerer
Poor Pat had foot surgery that sidelined him until the final 11 games. He was not back to true form for these games and got hurt once again. He has now had a second surgery on that foot. He has been working hard to be healthy and is expected to start.
He recently said in an interview with colts.com, "A lot of people have overcome things a lot worse than this. It's nothing I can't come back from."
RILB: Jerrell Freeman
Freeman is a true gem on the Colts defense. He came from the CFL. He was a runner-up for the best defensive player in 2011. He played very well in the 2012 season and (unofficially) broke the franchise record for number of tackles. He will start.
ROLB: Erik Walden
With Dwight Freeney gone, this spot on the roster is wide open. The Colts just signed Lawrence Sidbury; but I do not see him starting. He has never played a 3-4 scheme before and will need time to adjust. Hughes is a bust and has been awful.
So, the starter will be Erik Walden.
Walden is a bit of a mystery. The Colts picked him up from the Green Bay Packers. He was actually rated the worst defender on the Packers last season. The Colts have chosen him to be an outside linebacker opposite Mathis. This signing is an unexpected and unwelcome one.
Safety: LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea
Free Safety: Antoine Bethea
Bethea had 100 tackles in 2012, with two sacks. He also defended a career-high seven passes. He will be an easy pick as a starter for the Colts in 2013.
Strong Safety: LaRon Landry
Landry was a recent acquisition from the New York Jets. He was signed to a four-year deal for $24 million. He made the Pro Bowl last year with the Jets and recorded 100 tackles, eight passes defended, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and two touchdowns. He's a very big, physical guy who is an immediate upgrade on Tom Zbikowski.
Cornerback: Vontae Davis and Greg Toler
RCB: Vontae Davis
Davis was brought in last season for a draft pick. He played well when not injured. He should be fully healthy now. The beginning of this season was rough, but he began to show some progress near the tail end of the season.
Hopefully, with Toler on the field with him we will see more consistent, strong play.
LCB: Greg Toler
Toler was picked up for three years and $15 million. Toler is a bigger guy than the recently departed Jerraud Powers at 6'0" and 193 lbs. This will help him line up against receivers. He's shown that he is a competitive guy that will get involved with the run game.
The issue is that his history is littered with injuries. However, as long as he stays healthy, he will start.