INDIANAPOLIS COLTS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
With 2012 first-round rookie QB Andrew Luck and a terrific young supporting cast, the sky’s the limit — if the Colts can keep Luck out of harm’s way. Reuniting with former Stanford coordinator Pep Hamilton should help, as he prefers a variation of the “West Coast” attack that emphasizes short, efficient, quick-hitting passes set up by a power run game, rather than the vertical offense the Colts ran in 2012.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
OT — Arguably the Colts’ greatest need is better protection for Luck, their prized asset. OLT Anthony Castonzo continued to struggle with edge speed and was more effective as a run blocker, perhaps foreshadowing a move to the right side. ORT Winston Justice played well out of the gate, but his pass protection became a major liability, and he is a free agent.
OG — Free-agent acquisition Mike McGlynn was dependable, starting 16 games at right guard, but he was often overmatched. The Colts had a revolving door at left guard, where starter Joe Reitz, Seth Olsen and even Jeff Linkenbach all looked more like backups than starters.
RB — Rookie Vick Ballard was something of a revelation for the Colts, starting 12 games and showing an ability to grind out tough yards and make big plays in big moments. However, 2009 first-rounder Donald Brown’s future is uncertain after he finished the season on injured reserve with a knee injury. If Brown isn’t back, the Colts need a back with home-run ability.
The Colts surrendered 24.2 points per game and mustered just 15 takeaways, a clear illustration that the firepower they boast on offense isn’t nearly as present on the other side of the ball. They return talented players like LB Robert Mathis and S Antoine Bethea, but they lack run stuffers up front and game changers at every level. Head coach Chuck Pagano’s defense is likely to get a shot in the arm.
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
OLB — With UFA Dwight Freeney not expected to return and Robert Mathis approaching the age of 32, the Colts must find more guys who can explode off the edges. 2010 first-rounder Jerry Hughes hasn’t shown nearly enough to become a full-time starter, thus the Colts appear to have an opening.
CB — GM Ryan Grigson did an impressive job flipping the CB group last offseason, acquiring Vontae Davis and Cassius Vaughn in trades and plucking Darius Butler off waivers. Yet, Vaughn and Butler were badly exposed in the Colts’ wild-card defeat in Baltimore, and Davis remains a work in progress. With free agent Jerraud Powers’ future with the Colts murky, they could use a starter opposite Davis.
SS — Tom Zbikowski proved to be a decent stopgap in 2012, but he lacks the coverage skills and playmaking ability to be considered a viable long-term solution. The Colts survived with Joe Lefeged late in the season when “Zibby” was sidelined, but the “D” would benefit greatly from a dynamic player to pair with Bethea.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (1): QB Andrew Luck / Stanford (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: There was nothing he could not do. Thrived in crunch time.
2nd round (34): TE Coby Fleener / Stanford (GP/GS: 12/10)
Skinny: Stuck in shadow of fellow rookie TE (Dwayne Allen). Struggled as a blocker
3rd round (64): TE Dwayne Allen / Clemson (GP/GS: 16/16)
Skinny: Super consistent and highly versatile. Good receiving skills.
3rd round (92): WR T.Y. Hilton / Florida International (GP/GS: 15/1)
Skinny: Home-run threat every time he touches ball, but too many drops.
5th round (136): NT Josh Chapman / Alabama (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Colts were prepared for him to sit out 2012 rehabbing knee.
5th round (170): RB Vick Ballard / Mississippi State (GP/GS: 16/12)
Skinny: Poor man’s Edgerrin James, according to Bruce Arians.
6th round (206): WR LaVon Brazil / Ohio (GP/GS: 15/0)
Skinny: Not a high volume of catches, but they came at big moments.
7th round (208): ORT Justin Anderson / Georgia (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Waived in November after beginning season on PUP list.
7th round (214): OLB Tim Fugger / Vanderbilt (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Only draft pick not to make 53-man roster out of camp.
7th round (253): QB Chandler Harnish / Northern Illinois (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: “Mr. Irrelevant” cut in October; re-signed to practice squad.
SUMMARY: Stunning how many long-term offensive pieces are here. Colts think Chapman is dynamic NT defense is missing.
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