Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Indianapolis Colts
After a stressful but exciting weekend, the NFL draft is officially over.
There are still rookie minicamps, and the Colts will need to trim their roster down to 90 beforehand, but most of the players currently with the team will be there for training camp.
So what does the projected depth chart look like? Well, we're going to take a look at what it looks like with all 90-plus players, not the final 53. Although there will be a roster prediction at the end of the slideshow.
There will likely be some surprises when training camp actually arrives (there always is), but for now, this is what I would expect come August.
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Projected Depth Chart: Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, Chandler Harnish
This is the easiest of the projections, as Andrew Luck is the sure-fire starter over Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish.
The real question is whether or not Harnish will last through camp and onto the team's final roster. The Colts just paid Matt Hasselbeck a two-year, $8 million contract, and it would cost more to cut him than to keep him.
Harnish flashed ability in last year's preseason but was kept on the practice squad for the majority of the season.
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Projected Depth Chart: Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Kerwynn Williams, Denodus O'Bryant, Davin Meggett, Alvester Alexander
The battle between Ballard and Brown will be an interesting one to start the season. Brown was slowed by injuries throughout the season in 2012, and the Colts had little choice but to give Ballard the bulk of the carries.
Despite injuries, Brown managed to put up the same YPC as Ballard, and Brown showed he could be a feature back in 2011, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Both look to get carries in 2013, but I'd expect Ballard to start the season on top due to his reliability in 2012.
Carter projects as the short-yardage and emergency starting back, someone who is a little more powerful than Brown and Ballard but doesn't have good vision and is a little too plodding to make anything happen in the open field.
Williams should come in and compete for return duties along with UDFA Denodus O'Bryant, and both have potential as utility backs out of the backfield as well.
Meggett and Alexander are likely no more than camp bodies but will have opportunities similar to O'Bryant and Williams.
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Projected Depth Chart: Stanley Havili, Robert Hughes, Dan Moore
The Colts traded for Havili in late March in exchange for scrub defensive lineman Clifton Geathers. They didn't give up much to get him, but Havili is projected as the starter in Pep Hamilton's power-run schemes. Havili is a decent pass receiver, giving the Colts a little more flexibility than a traditional fullback may.
Hughes was on the Colts last season before landing on IR, playing 28 snaps. He'll likely be competing with rookie UDFA Dan Moore—who's out of Montana—for a spot on the roster.
Honestly, all three of these guys have the potential to be cut before the season begins, but if any of them impresses during training camp, don't be surprised to see them on the final roster.
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Projected Depth Chart: Reggie Wayne*, Darrius Heyward-Bey*, T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen, Nathan Palmer, Jabin Sambrano, Jeremy Kelley, Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Rodrick Rumble, Lanear Sampson
Wayne is the only sure thing when it comes to wide receivers. He's still a low-end No. 1 receiver, with great hands and savvy route-running enabling him to beat double-teams at times.
The most interesting battle will be between Heyward-Bey and Hilton to see who gets more snaps. I expect the total to be fairly even, but Heyward-Bey may start the season as the starter in two wide receiver sets, as he is the more traditional wideout.
Brazill projects as the fourth wide receiver, and the Colts' coaches showed faith in him as a rookie by giving him over 200 snaps. He'll need to improve if he ever wants to be a consistent contributor, but I'd expect him to get his chances in 2013.
The rest of the wide receivers will battle it out for the fifth receiver spot. Whalen was sidelined by an injury last season but has better instincts than Palmer, who was unimpressive in his time on the field.
Sambrano and Kelley were camp bodies in 2012, and I don't expect them to be more than that in 2013.
Patterson, Sampson and Rumble were UDFAs who have either been signed or invited to the Colts' rookie minicamp and will likely compete for a position.
Patterson looks to have the immediate edge, playing for Hamilton at Stanford as recently as last fall. Rumble is a big, fast receiver who is very good after the catch, while Sampson was part of an explosive Baylor passing offense.
* denotes starter
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Projected Depth Chart: Dwayne Allen*, Coby Fleener*, Weslye Saunders, Dominique Jones, Justice Cunningham, Jerome Cunningham
Allen was one of the most pleasantly surprising rookies in 2012, excelling as a blocker and generally being a reliable target in the passing game.
Fleener was a bit disappointing at times for the Colts, but he should be a flexible receiving target. Both will likely start, but Allen should get the call in one-TE sets.
Justice Cunningham, the Colts' final pick of the 2013 draft, should challenge Weslye Saunders and Dominique Jones for the third and likely final roster spot at tight end.
Justice Cunningham is an exceptional blocker and has soft hands if needed. Saunders and Jones both were disappointing on the field last season and could be overtaken. Jerome Cunningham is not as well-known as Justice, but with his great size (6'4", 245 pounds), he also could compete for a spot.
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Projected Depth Chart: Anthony Castonzo, Bradley Sowell, Emmett Cleary
Castonzo was a bit inconsistent in 2012, but he finished the year very strong, and the regime has confidence in him in 2013. Hopefully a healthy offseason will allow him to improve on his quickness, which suffered at times in 2012, allowing him to be beat on the edge.
Sowell played right tackle in a pinch last season but hopefully will be on the sidelines only in 2013, as he was awful when he took the field.
Emmett Cleary was one of the Colts' higher-profile undrafted free-agent signings. Cleary was Castonzo's roommate at Boston College a few years ago and could potentially beat out Sowell for the backup spot at LT.
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Projected Depth Chart: Donald Thomas, Joe Reitz, Jeff Linkenbach, Justin Anderson
Thomas was signed out of New England in free agency specifically to play left guard, which was where the Colts really struggled in 2012. He is an adequate pass-protector and an above-average run-blocker who hasn't gotten a chance to show it much in New England, but the Colts believe he can be a full-time starter.
Joe Reitz had a surprisingly good 2011, but injuries caused him to take a huge step back in 2012. He and Jeff Linkenbach were better than Seth Olsen but still caused more harm to the team than good at left guard. Still, both are decent backups.
Justin Anderson was last year's seventh-round selection, but he was on PUP/IR all season with a foot injury. He may show something with a healthy foot in 2013, but I don't see him lasting through camp.
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Projected Depth Chart: Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes
This is a position where the Colts clearly wanted to create competition, drafting Khaled Holmes out of USC in the fourth round.
I'd expect Satele to start as the first-string guy based on the big contract he received in 2012, but I would not be surprised one bit if Shipley overtook him by the time training camp was up. Shipley was flat-out better in 2012.
Holmes could compete for the position (the standard isn't high), but most scouting reports on him have him as a guard in the NFL. Holmes struggles to get low enough to anchor at center and likely will be more of a guard who could flex into center in an emergency.
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Projected Depth Chart: Hugh Thornton, Mike McGlynn, Robert Griffin
The Colts addressed their weakest spot on offense with the drafting of Hugh Thornton in the third round of the draft. With Donald Thomas already signed to play left guard, the message was sent: Mike McGlynn simply was not a good-enough option.
McGlynn may push the rookie, but Thornton should be the starter. Griffin likely is a camp body, with Linkenbach and/or Reitz able to slide over and play right guard ahead of him if injuries take a toll on the group. Ben Ijalana may figure into this group as well, although I think he'll be a backup tackle if healthy.
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Projected Depth Chart: Gosder Cherilus, Ben Ijalana, Lee Ziemba
Cherilus was signed to a very big (likely too big) contract in free agency: five years, $34.5 milllion.
The contract was so large because Cherilus has very good pass-protecting skills, something the Colts hope will give Andrew Luck more time to work his magic in 2013.
Ben Ijalana looks to be a backup here, if he is healthy enough to play in 2013. After tearing his ACL again during training camp in 2012, Ijalana has serious health question marks. When he got a chance to get on the field briefly in 2011, he looked very good at tackle, but he hasn't been able to get back on to prove himself since.
Ziemba is a camp body.
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Projected Depth Chart: Cory Redding*, Ricky Jean-Francois*, Fili Moala, Drake Nevis, Ricardo Mathews, Lawrence Guy, Kellen Heard, Jordan Bright
Redding should start again in 2013, despite injury and age concerns creeping in. He'll be rotated out on plenty of downs, but he'll be the de facto starter along with free-agent signing Ricky Jean-Francois.
Moala, Nevis and Mathews will be the primary rotation guys at end, as they all are competent linemen. Nevis is the best run-stopping defensive end, Moala the best penetrator, and Mathews is decent at both.
Guy, Heard and Bright (a UDFA) will be competing for spots. Guy has the advantage over Heard, and Bright is an unknown quantity. He played for Indiana State in 2012 but has limited production over his college career. His length and size are ideal; however, and we could see him make a push for one of the final roster spots.
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Projected Depth Chart: Aubrayo Franklin, Brandon McKinney, Josh Chapman, Montori Hughes, Martin Tevaseu
Franklin had a poor year in the 4-3 in New Orleans in 2011, but he bounced back with a solid 2012 for San Diego in his more familiar role as a 3-4 nose tackle. He should start the year as the de facto starter for the Colts.
From there it gets a little hairy. McKinney is a proven commodity as an okay rotational tackle (for Pagano in Baltimore), but Chapman and Hughes both have upside as run-stuffers. But both have questions. Chapman hasn't played football in over a year due to knee injuries, and Hughes has major character concerns.
Tevaseu gave the Colts some production last season, but this group has too many bodies with better potential for him to last through training camp.
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Projected Depth Chart: Robert Mathis*, Erik Walden*, Bjoern Werner, Jerry Hughes, Lawrence Sidbury, Justin Hickman, Josh McNary, Quinton Spears, Monte Simmons, C.O. Prime, Jake Killeen
Robert Mathis is the sure bet here. Mathis will be the starting rush outside linebacker in 2013 as long as he holds up physically. He should be more effective in that role than he was at strong-side linebacker in 2012.
Walden was signed to start at SOLB, and he likely will, as his one positive attributes is that he can set the edge against the run on early downs.
But Werner, the Colts' 2013 first-round draft choice, will share snaps with him, so he could end up with the starting job by the end of the year.
Hughes and Sidbury will likely compete for the second-string ROLB position, with Hickman coming in a distant third.
Then you have a large group of mediocre players, evidence of Ryan Grigson's attempts to find any sort of playmaker at the position. McNary is the interesting story of the group—a former Army standout who has been enlisted for the past two years. He'll join the Colts after his enlistment is up in May.
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Projected Depth Chart: Jerrell Freeman*, Pat Angerer*, Kavell Conner, Mario Harvey, Scott Lutrus, Shawn Loiseau
Freeman was a diamond in the rough in 2012—a former CFL player who general manager Ryan Grigson signed in January who turned into a starting inside linebacker on the Colts' defense. Freeman isn't going to be a star, but he'll suffice as a decent starter.
I think Angerer will be much better in 2013, getting completely healthy and leap frogging Kavell Conner for the starting position.
While I like the dynamics of the Conner/Freeman pairing, Angerer is a better player when healthy. You'll likely see a healthy combination of all three, however, especially if injuries plague them again.
From there the Colts get pretty thin. Lutrus and Harvey are below-average, and Loiseau is a special-teams player.
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Projected Depth Chart: Vontae Davis*, Greg Toler*, Darius Butler, Cassius Vaughn, Josh Gordy, Marshay Green, Teddy Williams, Daxton Swanson, Sheldon Price, Nigel Malone
The starting duo of Davis and Toler should be a decent pair if they can stay healthy. Overall, the top three group of Davis, Toler and Butler has potential, although it certainly is not an elite unit.
But from there, things get a little dicey. Grigson and co. apparently are not sold on the depth there, calling three UDFAs late Saturday night (Swanson, Price, Malone).
Vaughn and Gordy were abused when on the field in 2012, and Green and Williams hardly saw the field. All three UDFA cornerbacks have gotten some decent reviews from scouts and should be real competition for the final two spots—assuming there are five cornerbacks on the final roster.
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Projected Depth Chart: Antoine Bethea*, LaRon Landry*, Joe Lefeged, John Boyett, Sergio Brown, Delano Howell, Nick Driskill, Larry Asante
Bethea and Landry are the obvious veteran starters for the Colts. Landry is the in-the-box, hard-hitting strong safety, while Bethea will be playing over-the-top in a center-fielder role. Lefeged can play either and will be the third safety, coming in for whoever gets hurt.
I loved the John Boyett pick in the sixth round of the draft. He'll learn behind Lefeged and Bethea (their contracts expire after this year) and be groomed for the free safety spot in 2014. He has great instincts and range, even if his size is a bit small.
The rest will be fighting for a special teams roster spot. I like Nick Driskill—a hard-hitter out of Mount Union (Garcon's college) who was invited to minicamp as a UDFA. He may not make the team, but he has a chance to challenge for a spot.
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Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, Brandon McManus, Michael Josifovski
Punter: Pat McAfee
Long Snapper: Matt Overton
Punt Returner: T.Y. Hilton, Kerwynn Williams
Kick Returner: Kerwynn Williams, Cassius Vaughn, Denodus O'Bryant
The Colts decided to sign/invite two UDFA kickers on Saturday night, which could be a hint that they don't trust Adam Vinatieri anymore. More likely, however, is that they are simply doing their due diligence and need a camp leg anyway.
McAfee and Overton are really the only options at their positions. They can enjoy job security for one summer at least.
Returners are another question. If Kerwynn Williams works out at both punt and kick returner, the Colts may be able to limit Hilton's exposure to big hits. Otherwise, I'd expect Hilton to be the starting punt returner. Vaughn has returned kicks before, but I'd expect UDFA O'Bryant to contest for a return job as well.
Projected Final Roster
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QB (2): Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck
RB (4): Vick Ballard, Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Kerwynn Williams
FB (1): Stanley Havili
TE (3): Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Justice Cunningham
WR (5): Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey, T.Y. Hilton, Lavon Brazill, Jamal-Rashad Patterson
OT (3): Anthony Castonzo, Gosder Cherilus, Ben Ijalana
OG (4): Donald Thomas, Hugh Thornton, Jeff Linkenbach, Joe Reitz
C (3): Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes
DT (3): Aubrayo Franklin, Josh Chapman, Montori Hughes
DE (5): Cory Redding, Ricky Jean-Francois, Fili Moala, Drake Nevis, Ricardo Mathews
OLB (4): Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner, Jerry Hughes
ILB (4): Jerrell Freeman, Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner, Mario Harvey
CB (5): Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, Sheldon Price, Daxton Swanson
S (4): Antoine Bethea, LaRon Landry, Joe Lefeged, John Boyett
K (1): Adam Vinatieri
P (1): Pat McAfee
LS (1): Matt Overton