Offseason Power Rankings for Every Player on the Colts Roster
As the season approaches (slowly but surely), fans and analysts alike are full of projections.
For Colts fans, anticipating who will be the biggest contributors this year is one of the prime activities of the offseason. With so many new faces and young contributors, there should be much change (and improvement) in 2013.
So, here are the 90 players on the current roster power ranked for the 2013 season. Each player is ranked based on who has the best chance at contributing the most to the Colts during the 2013 season. The rankings include consideration of their performances in 2012, their fit in the team's offensive and defensive schemes in 2013 and offseason news notes on individual players.
Fighting to Make It Through the Summer: 90-71
Each of these players will be fighting just to make it through the roster and into training camp. It wouldn't be a surprise if any of them were cut to make room for another move throughout the summer (such as former Army linebacker Josh McNary, who has yet to arrive in Indianapolis and does not currently count toward the 90-man limit).
It's a combination of undrafted free agents, fringe veterans and roster-fillers, and any of these players would be ecstatic to make the final roster.
90. Dan Moore, FB: Moore is a camp body at fullback and nothing more. It wouldn't be completely unheard of if he beat out Stanley Havili for what will be the lone FB spot on the roster, but it would be one of the biggest shocks of training camp.
89. Rick Schmeig, C: Schmeig was brought in after the team traded A.Q. Shipley to Baltimore for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2014, and he will simply be the third-team center in training camp.
88. Lanear Sampson, WR- Sampson was a UDFA signing immediately after the draft, and will compete for one of the final wide receiver spots, but other signings either have more experience or offer more.
87. Marshay Green, CB: Green has bounced around the Colts and Cardinals' practice squads over the last few years. Could he make the leap to the active roster for a substantial amount of time this year? My gut says the Colts know his limitations and will take a shot on someone else.
86. Davin Meggett, RB: Meggett has experience on the Colts and Texans' practice squads, but Delone Carter and Kerwynn Williams should be the two competing for the third running back spot.
85. Delano Howell, S: Howell contributed on the Colts special teams for a few games last season but wasn't particularly productive and should be a first-round cut in training camp.
84. Denodus O'Bryant, RB: An undrafted free-agent signing, O'Bryant is the Lindenwood all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns and was an NAIA All-American twice. But he'll have an uphill battle to beat out Carter or Williams for a spot on the roster.
83. Larry Asante, SS: He's played on special teams for Tampa Bay in the past but wasn't in the league in 2012, and defensive backs have a lot of competition for those fringe spots.
82. Allen Chapman, CB: "Bubba" played well enough in rookie minicamp that the Colts cut his former teammate Nigel Malone and signed Chapman, who was only at minicamp on a tryout basis. He'll need to have an equally impressive offseason and training camp to stick in Indianapolis.
81. Brandon McManus, P/K: McManus can both punt and kick for the Colts, which has value, but his main spot is kicker, which has prompted fans to question whether Adam Vinatieri's job is secure. Don't worry, it is. McManus is a camp leg, and that's it, unless something tragic happens to Vinatieri.
80. Quinton Spears, LB: Spears played for the Browns in 2011 but was cut in the final wave last August. Nobody picked him up throughout the season, but the Colts signed him in January to compete as a special teams/depth linebacker.
79. Monte Simmons, LB: Last season, Simmons was snatched up by the Colts in October to fill out their practice squad, where he lasted all season. That consistency is key for the young LB, who has familiarity with the team and staff that could be invaluable in August.
78. Caesar Rayford, LB: Rayford was recently signed in place of LB Jake Killeen. Rayford has been an Arena Football League player over the past three years after failing to stick in the NFL. Rayford will compete at OLB, and his size and history of blocking kicks on special teams make him an interesting prospect.
77. Rodrick Rumble, WR: Aside from having a fantastic name, Rumble left Idaho State as the Bengals' all-time leading receiver. Rumble uses his size well and has good hands, but a limited route tree in college may hurt his chances at sticking in the NFL.
76. Jabin Sambrano, WR: The Colts signed Sambrano as an undrafted free agent last offseason, and he made the final roster but was cut just a few weeks into the season. Nobody picked him up until the Buccaneers did in December, but the Colts thought enough of him to sign him to a future contract in January, wishing to see him compete in training camp again.
75. Jeremy Kelley, WR: The 6'6" receiver has played in both the Canadian and Arena Football League over the last two years and has size that is unheard of in Indianapolis. The Colts lack height at wide receiver, and Kelley may be a big red-zone target worth a final roster spot.
74. Scott Lutrus, ILB: Lutrus played on the 2011 Colts after being picked up off the Rams practice squad, participating in four games. But he was on injured reserve for all of 2012, and the current Colts have much better depth at ILB than the 2011 team did. Lutrus will have to impress to make the roster in 2013.
73. Robert Griffin, G: Griffin has experience in the NFL and with the Colts, but it's limited to offseason and practice-squad work. The Colts have a lot of competition at interior line, but his overall talent is limited, leading to the former sixth-round pick's spot here.
72. Daxton Swanson, CB/S: Swanson turned some heads over the last few weeks in Indianapolis, playing his way into the coaches' eyes. Swanson has a shot at the final roster as a fourth or fifth corner, and the way he's played so far is exactly the way an undrafted free agent has to in order to make that leap.
71. Sheldon Price, CB: Much like Swanson, Price's play in rookie minicamp and OTAs have led him to be one of the undrafted free agents with the best chances of making the final roster.
Hoping to Make It Past Initial Roster Cuts: 70-61
For these next 10 players, we see a group that, for the most part, has experience in the NFL and with Indianapolis, but whose jobs are not secure in any sense. Whether it's a lack of talent, injury difficulties or simply a crowded position, these vets will be fighting to keep their paychecks coming in 2013.
There are a few youngsters on this list as well who might rise above the first 20 due to their play so far or thin positional battles.
70. Teddy Williams, CB: The speedy Williams likely won't make the roster due to his fantastic cover skills. But his ability to produce on special teams, as he did in 2012 for Indianapolis, could give him the extra boost to make the team.
69. Emmett Cleary, T: Offensive tackle is one of few positions where the depth is a complete question mark. Behind Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus is a complete question mark, and Castonzo's former roommate Cleary could be an undrafted free agent who makes the roster because of that.
68. C.O. Prime, LB: Prime gets vaulted this high (relatively) because of the shout out by Cory Redding during last week's OTAs. In an interview for Colts.com, Redding specifically mentioned Prime as one of the players who caught his eye during OTAs, which is a fantastic sign for the undrafted free agent.
67. Nathan Palmer, WR: Palmer was signed to the active roster off San Francisco's practice squad last season, and he played in five games for the Colts. Unfortunately, his ceiling is low, and he'll likely get passed over for players with higher potential in 2013.
66. Lee Ziemba, T: Ziemba played in six games for the Panthers in 2011 but was injured/waived in 2012 before the Colts picked him up and placed him on their practice squad in December. Fully healthy, Ziemba will have a chance to compete for the thin tackle spot this year.
65. Chandler Harnish, QB: Harnish likely will make it through the first cuts and possibly the final cuts, but the Colts likely will try to stash him on the practice squad for one more year with Matt Hasselbeck on the roster.
64. Kellen Heard, DT: Heard managed 59 snaps at the end of the season for Indianapolis last season and managed to get a little production in pass rush, but he was horrendous against the run and undisciplined, getting called for two penalties.
63. Lawrence Guy, DE: The Colts desperately needed depth on the defensive line after injuries took their toll last season, and Guy wasn't a horrible stopgap. But, there is too much competition with the free-agency additions and trenches-focused draft.
62. Ben Ijalana, G/T: I would love to see Ijalana make the final roster. He flashed potential during his rookie year to be able to play both guard and tackle, but injuries have placed the "damaged goods" label on him. Also, his inability to participate in OTAs does not help that image.
61. Josh Gordy, CB: Gordy was on the roster last season as a depth corner but was underwhelming when on the field, and the Colts are looking to upgrade on him with the undrafted free-agent signings. He has the edge on the final corner spot heading into camp, but he will have to work to keep it.
Fringe Roster Players: 60-51
Now we get into the meat of things, as the next 10 players are littered with players who contributed last season for the Colts or are expected to, but competition is going to make things difficult for them.
60. Justin Anderson, G: Anderson was a seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft by the Colts, but injuries kept him off the field throughout the season. A huge player (6'5", 345 pounds), Anderson will compete for a spot, but his chances are low.
59. Bradley Sowell, T: The former undrafted free agent out of Mississippi played in 10 games last year for the Colts but was awful in limited time at tackle. The Colts will look to upgrade for 2013, the question is whether or not anybody else will step up.
58. Martin Tevaseu, NT: Like Sowell, Tevaseu was an injury replacement in 2012. Unlike Sowell, Tevaseu was productive at times, although he didn't offer much in pass rush at all. Unfortunately for Tevaseu, the competition at nose tackle is going to be too much in 2013.
57. Brandon McKinney, NT: McKinney was brought in last season to help bridge the transition to the 3-4, but a knee injury caused him to miss the whole season. Now, it looks like McKinney's window to be a producer in Indianapolis may have closed, with Josh Chapman, Aubrayo Franklin and Montori Hughes entering the picture for 2013.
56. Sergio Brown, FS: A special teams ace and defensive goat in 2012, Brown may make the final roster because of his work on special teams. Fans will remember the game-winning touchdown he allowed against Jacksonville in Week 3 last year, but coaches will remember the 10 special-teams stops he recorded.
55. Ricardo Mathews, DT: I'm rooting for Mathews 2013. He is a solid rotational defensive lineman and had the second most snaps among the Colts' defensive line in 2012. But, like McKinney and Tevaseu, the competition may end up being too much.
54. Lawrence Sidbury, OLB: The Colts signed Sidbury to a low one-year contract in 2013 to compete at outside linebacker. Sidbury flashed pass-rushing potential in Atlanta but hasn't had a chance to show it yet in his career. He'll be fighting with Justin Hickman and the unproven OLBs for the fourth OLB spot.
53. Mario Harvey, ILB: The Colts' coaches really like Harvey at inside linebacker, and he's contributed in the past. But, with four ILBs ahead of him on the depth chart, he has a low ceiling for contribution sans injury.
52. Dominique Jones, TE: The Colts found snaps for Jones in 2012, whether it was at fullback, tight end or H-back, but he underwhelmed in each role. He likely will get passed over in 2013.
51. Weslye Saunders, TE: Saunders was the third TE in 2012 and was a decent blocker in the Colts' scheme. But he doesn't offered much in the passing game, and the Colts are looking to replace him, as seen by the flurry of TE tryouts and signings this offseason.
Depth Contributors: 50-41
As we delve into the next 10 players in the power ranking, we find players who should make the roster, but whose level of contributions are unknown.
Ideally, they would be solid depth players, with a few positive surprises sneaking in, but their production in 2013 could go either way right now.
50. Justin Hickman, OLB: Hickman managed nearly 200 snaps for the Colts last season and impressed against the run and on special teams. But his lack of pass-rushing prowess could vault Sidbury over him in the final depth chart.
49. Matt Overton, LS: Overton made the roster last season, beating out long-time Colt Justin Snow for the long snapper position. But, it's only a long snapper, and Overton's role will likely be limited to that.
48. John Boyett, S: The 2013 sixth-round pick has great instincts in coverage but is still recovering from knee injuries last fall that kept him on the bench this season. If he can get healthy and on the field in time for training camp, he could be a contributor on special teams and in case of injury this year. If not, the Colts will likely stow him and hope he can contribute in the future.
47. Kerwynn Williams, RB: An electric player in college, Williams hopes to be a special teams and situational threat for the Colts in 2013, but he hasn't flashed much so far in OTAs (besides very good straight-line speed). Williams should get reps at both kick and punt returner in training camp, and he'll need to capitalize on that opportunity.
46. Cassius Vaughn, CB: As much as I personally dislike Vaughn's play, there's no doubt that he holds the inside track on the fourth cornerback spot. The coaches thought well enough of Vaughn to start him 11 times last season, and he finished with the third most snaps of any Colts defender.
45. Montori Hughes, DT: Hughes is a high-ceiling pick who could contribute as a rotational defensive lineman in 2013. Hughes can line up anywhere on the defensive line and has the potential to be a long-term answer on the line. The coaches likely will try to get him on the field as much as possible.
44. Delone Carter, RB: It's not a great sign for Carter that the running backs coach has said that a third running back behind Donald Brown and Vick Ballard has not yet emerged. Carter is the incumbent and ran decently well last season, especially in power situations. It seems he'd fit the Hamilton power-running scheme well, but his lack of versatility out of the backfield hurts him.
43. Justice Cunningham, TE: Cunningham impressed media members with his receiving prowess during rookie minicamp to go along with his heralded blocking. If Cunningham can show he'll be a decent receiving option, he should win the third tight end spot in 2013.
42. Stanley Havili, FB: The subject of a trade in late March, Havili is the de facto starter as a fullback in the Colts roster. As long as the team keeps a fullback on the final roster, it should be Havili.
41. Jeff Linkenbach, T: Linkenbach isn't the most talented offensive lineman the Colts have, but he's one of the most versatile. He spent most of his time in 2012 as a guard but can slide out and play either tackle spot in a pinch as well.
Camp Battles Galore: 40-31
With this next batch of 10, we see more players who will be battling one another for spots in training camp. With a few, it's some of the most compelling training camp battles. With others, it's a case of depth causing good players to have little job security, which, as a fan, isn't a bad problem to have.
40. Matt Hasselback, QB: Both Luck, the coaches and media members have all commented on Hasselbeck's persona so far in the offseason, citing his knowledge, leadership and good nature as evidence of his additions to the roster. Hopefully he never has to see the field this season, but his impact on Luck as a teacher could be invaluable.
39. Mike McGlynn, G/C: McGlynn's stock is sinking fast, as the Colts spent both money and draft picks on guards to improve the interior offensive line throughout the offseason. McGlynn was horrible last season and needs to be taken out of the starting lineup. Nevertheless, his ability to play both guard and center likely will keep him on the roster.
38. LaVon Brazill, WR: The second-year receiver out of Ohio caught 11 passes and a touchdown as the fourth receiver last year, but he will face intense competition for the spot in 2013. He does have an advantage with his year with Luck and Co. but needs to flash more than he did last season.
37. Griff Whalen, WR: The Stanford teammate of Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener and player under Pep Hamilton is seeing his name get mentioned more and more by media members, something you have to like if you're a Whalen fan.
36. Kavell Conner, ILB: Conner was an absolute stud against the run in 2012 and could be again if he gets a chance in 2013. I'm afraid he's going to get buried under Angerer and Sheppard this season, however. Last year Angerer was limited by injuries, and Conner still only managed about 200 snaps on the year.
35. Donald Brown, RB: Brown is the second back, but what that means remains to be seen. The Colts have said they like a rotation, so Brown will likely get his chances both in and out of the backfield.
34. Adam Vinatieri, K: We saw that Vinatieri could still hit a clutch kick or two when he needed to last season, but his accuracy is rapidly declining. I don't see him getting cut, but if he has another down year, the Colts will be looking for a new kicker in January.
33. Khaled Holmes, C and 32. Samson Satele, C
I put both centers together here, because I see the battle as a 50/50 shot right now. The franchise has faith in Holmes, jettisoning A.Q. Shipley partially because of the belief that Holmes is a long-term answer at the position.
The question now becomes: Is Holmes ready for that role now, or is Satele needed to hold down the fort for at least a year or so?
31. Joe Reitz, G: Reitz ran with the first team in lieu of Donald Thomas during OTAs, which hints that the Colts still view him as one of the more talented guards on the roster for 2013. He'll be a depth/rotational guy as long as people stay healthy, and he is a decent stop gap when needed.
Fringe Starters and Top Depth Players: 30-21
Here we have the final group of 10 before separating the top 20 players individually. What we find are a plethora of players who should garner a lot of snaps in rotational duties or starters who have little starting experience.
These aren't the stars of the team, but the Colts need them to be solid, consistent contributors for the team to succeed in 2013.
30. Aubrayo Franklin, NT: Franklin was running with the first team in a few snaps during this week's OTAs and will almost certainly split time with Josh Chapman at the position. Franklin is a more than solid run defender, and if Chapman is anywhere near what the Colts have hyped him to be, the Colts could have two good run-stoppers at NT.
29. Joe Lefeged, S: Lefeged was a special teams ace in 2012 and figures to retain that role in 2013 while holding onto the backup safety position. He played well when replacing Tom Zbikowski last season and can hold the fort down quite nicely when asked.
28. Cory Redding, DE, 27. Drake Nevis, DT and 26. Fili Moala, DE
It may come as a surprise to you that I have Redding ranked behind Nevis and Moala and this low in general. But Redding is getting older, slowing down and breaking down. He was limited by injury in 2012, and I expect he'll miss some time in 2013 as well.
Now, Moala and Nevis need to avoid injuries as well, but they don't have the wear and tear of Redding, and the next year in the 3-4 scheme should produce some improvements.
25. Erik Walden, OLB: Walden should start the season as the starter at SOLB for the Colts, even if he doesn't finish the season. Even then, he'll get plenty of rotational snaps against the run. I'm not a big fan of Walden and think the Colts overpaid him in the offseason. But if he can give the Colts 20-30 snaps per game as a run-stopper, then he'll be fine.
24. Kelvin Sheppard, LB: Sheppard was brought in to be the nickel linebacker who excels in coverage, something he's already shown his prowess in. The Colts loved using the nickel set in 2012, and Sheppard should get plenty of snaps in 2013.
23. Darius Butler, CB: The nickel corner for most of 2012, Butler will play that role once again after signing a two-year contract this offseason. Butler excelled in the nickel last season, as QBs had a rating of 43.1 when throwing at him as a slot corner for the third best number in the NFL. He should have better talent around him this season as well.
22. Hugh Thornton, G: The Colts are already slotting the rookie out of Illinois as the starter at right guard, even if they won't come out and say it directly. As long as Thornton doesn't have a horrendous camp, the starting job is his to lose.
21. Josh Chapman, NT: Colts fans were excited to see the nose tackle out of Alabama play last season, but the return to the field never came. Now, however, he's with the team in OTAs and is impressing coaches and players alike. Ideally he'll open the season as the starter, giving the Colts a true space-eating nose tackle to free up linebackers to make plays.
20. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
The Colts desperately needed to upgrade their receiving corps after 2012, when Donnie Avery, the No. 2, was one of the worst wide receivers in football.
They didn't take a large amount of steps to do that, instead focusing on the offensive line, but signing Heyward-Bey could be an underrated signing with huge long-term impact.
Heyward-Bey has never lived up to his seventh overall draft spot, but he's also dealt with a revolving door at quarterback and head coach during his time in Oakland. It's clear he has potential, and Andrew Luck may just be the quarterback to unlock it.
He's a better red-zone target than Avery ever was and has a much higher ceiling. People forget that his 2011 season seemed to be a step in the right direction (very comparable to Calvin Johnson's 2009 season) before Oakland's nightmare season last year resulted in a step back.
How many targets are available to him remains to be seen, but Heyward-Bey has the potential to be a fantastic pickup.
19. Ricky Jean-Francois, DT
The Colts signed Ricky Jean-Francois to a four-year, $22 million contract in March and are counting on him to rise to the occasion.
Jean-Francois has always been a reserve for the 49ers, never playing more than 328 snaps in a season. He's done a relatively good job, however, and can play all over the line in the 3-4. The Colts will likely have him lining up as a 2or 3-technique defensive end (or tackle in their four-down linemen sets).
If Jean-Francois can handle the increased workload with similar efficiency as he did in San Francisco, the Colts will have a solid starting defensive lineman to pair with Cory Redding and possibly Josh Chapman.
If not, there is a big hole in the Colts' front seven.
18. Greg Toler, CB
Much like Jean-Francois, Toler is a player who has never had the full-time starting load but has had relative success.
Like Jean-Francois, the Colts are expecting Toler to be able to handle the starting load, virtually handing him the No. 2 corner spot with his three-year, $15 million contract.
Toler has arguably been the most impressive newcomer thus far, something the Colts will need for their defense to improve in 2013.
17. Donald Thomas, G
With Donald Thomas, we continue the trend of free-agent signings who have, until now, only been reserves.
With Thomas, we have a little more to work with than the other two, however, as he played more than 600 snaps in 2012. He finished the season as Pro Football Focus' 20th best guard, despite playing mostly in a rotational role.
Thomas excels in run-blocking, which is where the Colts focused on improving in the offseason, but he is no slouch in pass protection either. He will start at left guard in 2013 and should be a massive upgrade over the Seth Olson/Jeff Linkenbach/Joe Reitz shambles that Colts fans dealt with in 2012.
16. Pat Angerer, LB
One of the Colts who was hampered by injuries in 2012 was Pat Angerer, whose lingering foot issues dragged him down all season. Despite the problems, he played through his injuries for much of the season but was noticeably slower to react than in 2011, when he had an impressive sophomore season.
But, the Colts' coaches love Angerer's attitude and play when healthy (as they saw last offseason), and a healthy foot (knock on wood) should provide for a much improved season in 2013.
I expect Angerer to win the starting job next to Jerrell Freeman to open the season, as long as Angerer can stay on the field. He needed surgery again this offseason and has yet to fully recover.
15. LaRon Landry, SS
Despite making the Pro Bowl in 2012, LaRon Landry had a down year. He was merely average in run support, as limited as ever in coverage and finished with too many silly penalties.
That being said, we know Landry has the potential to be a good strong safety in the right situation. He is a big-hitter, can come up in the box and give the defense an extra defender against the run and is an intimidating force for receivers coming across the middle.
Like several other Colts, Landry does have injury issues that could hold him back, specifically recurring Achilles and heel problems. If he stays on the field and the chemistry fits with him and FS Antoine Bethea, he should be a great weapon for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
14. Vick Ballard, RB
I'm not going to deceive when it comes to Vick Ballard: I think he's just a guy. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL, and Ballard doesn't do anything particularly well that makes him a long-term solution.
That being said, we should see a big increase in his production in 2013. He toughed out over 800 yards last season in an offensive scheme not friendly to running backs behind an offensive line that Football Outsider's ranked 26th in adjusted line yards.
Behind an improved offensive line and with Pep Hamilton's increased focus on running between the tackles, we could see Ballard give Indianapolis its first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007.
13. Bjoern Werner, OLB
The Colts' first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft needs to be what he was drafted to be: a pass-rusher. The Colts' pass-rushing prospects are dire with the loss of Dwight Freeney and Jerry Hughes in the offseason, who were two of the Colts' three most effective pass-rushers in 2012 (a year in which they struggled to get to the quarterback).
I don't think Werner is the long-term answer as a primary pass-rusher, which I covered earlier this month, but I do think he can be effective opposite that primary guy. The Colts currently have that primary guy in Robert Mathis, and Werner's lightening-quick first step should allow him to make the opposing quarterback uncomfortable in 2013.
He needs to work on his pass-rushing moves, which are currently limited, and ensure he doesn't give up on plays, but he has the tools and ability to be a disruptive force for the Colts. He should get that opportunity this season.
12. Coby Fleener, TE
The Colts' second-round selection in 2012 was on pace for a good rookie season for a tight end before injuries caused him to sit out four games.
Instead, he saw fellow rookie Dwayne Allen take the No. 1 tight end spot and develop into one of the league's most promising tight ends.
This season, Fleener aims to change that.
Armed with an offense more suited to his skill set, an offseason of working on his hands (which were questionable at times in 2012) and a year's worth of NFL experience, Fleener should see his receiving numbers dramatically improve in 2012.
Head coach Chuck Pagano recently told Kevin Bowen of Colts.com that Fleener's numbers could double in 2013, and that's not out of the question.
11. Vontae Davis, CB
When the Colts traded a second-round pick to Miami for CB Vontae Davis last August, there was plenty of hand-wringing among Colts fans. Davis was a questionable product with obvious physical talent, but a lack of maturity kept it from falling into place.
When Davis was horrible in the season-opening loss to Chicago, that hand-wringing rose even more.
But Davis settled down and played well down the stretch for Indianapolis, finishing in the top 25 in PFF's coverage grades for corners (subscription required). Davis needs to lower the pass interference penalties in 2013, but it's something he can do.
He might not ever be great in run support, but if he can be left one-on-one in man coverage and effectively shut down the receiver, the Colts can live with the lesser run support.
10. Anthony Castonzo, LT
Anthony Castonzo was unfairly criticized, in my opinion, at times last season.
He definitely gave up more pressure than one would like but was also dealing with a complete lack of consistency next to him at left guard, which led to miscommunication and blitz-pickup issues.
Meanwhile, he was the best run-blocker of anyone on the Colts' line, didn't get called for many holding penalties and was adept at getting out on screens or sweep plays and blocking downfield.
With more consistent play at left guard in 2013 and his continued growth, Castonzo should have an above-average season in 2013.
9. Jerrell Freeman, ILB
I'm not going to pretend that Jerrell Freeman was perfect in 2012.
He wasn't...by a long shot.
He got caught up in traffic too often, let linemen and fullbacks push him around and missed a few tackles.
That being said, remember that Freeman is basically a rookie out of the CFL. He played just about every snap for the Colts, led the team in tackles, knocked down two passes, caused two turnovers and picked up two sacks on the season.
It was impressive. Not perfect, but impressive nonetheless.
With a year under his belt, both in the NFL and in Pagano's system, Freeman should have a monster year in 2013.
8. Antoine Bethea, FS
Antoine Bethea had a down year in 2012—that much should be clear to any Indianapolis Colts fan.
The seven-year veteran has been putting up Pro Bowl-worthy performances for years now, but 2012 was not one of those years. Bethea was inconsistent in run support, stretched too thin in coverage and missed a surprising amount of tackles.
The biggest problem was the way the Colts used him. They used him in a strong-safety role too often, when he's not at his best in the box. They put him next to Tom Zbikowski, which forced him to cover for more mistakes than he should. Finally, it was his first year in Pagano/Manusky's unpredictable, ever-changing system.
With a year of growth and a more traditional strong safety playing next to him, Bethea should be able to play a more comfortable, natural role in 2013.
7. Gosder Cherilus, RT
The Colts' most able newcomer, Gosder Cherilus, comes in as a primary protector for Andrew Luck. In an offseason filled with attempts to stop the run and run the ball, Cherilus was a reminder that the Colts know that they have to protect Andrew Luck.
Cherilus was PFF's fifth-best pass protector in 2012 and eighth-best tackle overall (subscription required). He's primarily a great pass protector on the right side, but he can run block reasonably well and is not going to bog down the game with penalties.
The Colts gave him nearly $35 million for a reason: to protect Andrew Luck. All signs point toward him doing that in 2013.
6. T.Y. Hilton, WR
The Colts need long-term weapons to pair with Andrew Luck.
T.Y. Hilton just might be one, if his rookie season were any indication.
Hilton pulled in 50 catches and over 860 yards in his rookie year, having one of the best rookie seasons since 2000.
Sure, his drop numbers need to improve, but he's an explosive target who can be used in all sorts of ways. He played well in the red zone for his size and was also a deep threat.
He could be a 1,000-yard receiver in 2013.
5. Pat McAfee, P
Should a punter be in the top five on this list? Maybe not.
But Pat McAfee is one of the Colts' best players and should be recognized as such.
He had Pro Bowl-worthy numbers in 2012 and is constantly trying to improve his game. He got the franchise tag this offseason, and fans should be hoping the team and McAfee come to a long-term deal soon.
4. Dwayne Allen, TE
Arguably the biggest steal in the 2012 draft, Allen is looking good as a third-round pick after one year.
His rookie reception numbers are some of the top numbers for a rookie tight end since 2000, and those likely could improve under Pep Hamilton's offensive scheme.
More impressive, however, was Allen's blocking, which was some of the best in the league for a tight end in 2012. PFF rated Allen as the best blocking tight end in the league last season, the powering force behind his second highest grade overall.
A force in all phases of the game, he should be a joy to watch in 2013.
3. Reggie Wayne, WR
At 34, with a new coach, quarterback and offensive system, Reggie Wayne put on one of the greatest performances by an older receiver of all time, with 106 receptions and 1,355 yards. That's the second most yards (Marvin Harrison had 11 more in 2006) and the second most receptions (Jerry Rice had two more in 1996) for a 34-year-old wide receiver.
Wayne was consistent, capping off the season with an NFL-record 64 straight games with at least three catches. He was tough, finishing the season as PFF's best blocking wide receiver. He was disciplined, not being called for a single penalty all season.
With more feasible targets surrounding Andrew Luck, his numbers will drop this season, which is the only reason why he's not second on this list. But he'll continue to be there, giving Luck the veteran presence so desperately needed on a young offensive unit.
2. Robert Mathis, OLB
Robert Mathis' transition to the 3-4 defense was, well, rough.
He was horrible when asked to drop into coverage, he didn't set the edge well as a strong-side outside linebacker and his pass rush, while good, didn't make up for the deficiencies.
That pass rush was still effective in 201; it just wasn't put to good use in the role he was asked to play.
But in 2013, he'll move from SOLB to rush outside linebacker (ROLB), and the change should provide great benefit to him. No longer will he drop into coverage frequently—no longer will he bear as great of a responsibility against the run. He'll have his hand on the ground often and will just be asked to pin his ears back and go after the quarterback.
Just the way he likes it.
1. Andrew Luck, QB
There's not enough you can say about Andrew Luck's rookie year.
But the bottom line is, Luck led a poor roster from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 and a playoff berth in 2012. Despite an offensive system that didn't maximize his strengths, an offensive line that put up less resistance than rice paper and wide receivers who had higher drop rates than Indianapolis has seen in years, Luck succeeded.
That's why Luck is about to be named the best quarterback under 25 by Gregg Rosenthal. It's why Colts fans clamored for him to be named Rookie of the Year.
And with a more efficient offensive system, an improved supporting cast and a year under his belt, it's why Colts fans across the globe are itching to see him on the field again in 2013.
As always, you can find more musings and notes on the Colts and other things NFL on Twitter: @ColtsAuth_Kyle.