The biggest question for the Indianapolis Colts and its fan base this upcoming season is most certainly where they stand on defense.
Indianapolis has struggled mightily on defense in the Andrew Luck era and 2016 was no exception. The team finished just 22nd in points allowed and 30th in total yards allowed. Under former general manager Ryan Grigson, the Colts had one of the worst defensive rosters in the league as the unit was filled with old and slow players. They lacked any sort of physicality, and the roster consistently was one of the worst in the league.
But under new general manager Chris Ballard, the Colts are slowly building a much better unit. The Colts signed numerous mid-tier free agents, replenishing the lack of depth on the roster. Players such as Jabaal Sheard, Margus Hunt, John Simon and Sean Spence were all brought in at reasonable prices. Their biggest free-agent acquisition happened right before the draft when the team signed run-stopping specialist Johnathan Hankins from the Giants.
Along with a strong free agency, Ballard and the Colts spent the team’s first three picks on defense in the 2017 draft. Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson, and Tarell Basham are three high-upside picks who could all start Week 1. The Colts defense will likely finish in the bottom half of the league again in 2017, but the team is starting to add talent to one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Under Chris Ballard, things are looking up for this defense.
The Colts secondary was ranked as the league’s 28th best by PFF with much in question. Former mainstay Vontae Davis had an awful 2016. But it appears his supporting cast has improved with first-round pick safety Malik Hooker and second-round cornerback Quincy Wilson.
Overall, The Colts roster was ranked 26th in the league, which was last among AFC South teams and ahead of only the Bills, Lions, Browns, 49ers, Rams, and Jets. The strength of the roster was listed as being Andrew Luck, who PFF ranks as the only Colts player in the “elite” category.
With all of that said, it’s safe to say that with question marks on defense, Luck’s health and performance will be the key to success for the Indianapolis Colts this upcoming season.