Hello all! First off, I wanted to say that I’m super excited to be writing again! It’s been quite a while since I last gave my thoughts about the Colts on paper.
I thought a good starting point would be to talk about my opinion on who the top five Indianapolis Colts of 2018 will be and my case for each. I hope you enjoy!
Honorable mentions: Malik Hooker, Marlon Mack, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Anthony Castonzo, Nyheim Hines
A year ago, having an interior offensive lineman on the list would’ve been the punchline to a joke.
But not this year.
Selected sixth overall by the Colts in the 2018 draft, Quenton Nelson was a starter from day one. Nelson was touted by many as the best guard prospect to come out of college in 20 years.
Nelson, along with the addition of second rounder Braden Smith and waiver claim Mark Glowinski, helped transform a Colts offensive line that surrendered a league-high 56 sacks in 2017 to the least allowed in the entire NFL in only one season. Additionally, Nelson earned a Pro Bowl bid as a rookie, was Pro Football Focus’ top rated rookie offensive lineman in 2018 and was also named as a member of the NFL's All-Pro Team.
While Nelson alone wasn’t the reason for the offensive line’s quick turnaround, his presence has had a profound impact on turning the Colts' offensive line from bottom feeder to elite in only one year certainly earns him a spot on this list.
With 66 catches, 750 yards, 13 touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown, Eric Ebron notched career highs in every category. Ebron had more touchdowns for the Colts in 2018 alone (14) than his first four years with the Detroit Lions combined (11). Additionally, Ebron earned his first Pro Bowl bid.
Ebron has built a good rapport with Luck and at 25 years old, Ebron looks to continue his success for many more years in this Colts offense.
T.Y. Hilton has been a bonafide stud ever since he was selected 92nd overall in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft.
Hilton has also been a model of consistency for Indianapolis, posting 1,000-yard seasons five out of his seven seasons in the league. And, nearly six out of seven, falling 44 yards short in 2017. Despite missing two games in 2018, Hilton had another Pro Bowl year with 76 receptions for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns.
Not only was it a good overall year for Hilton, but the seventh-year pro recorded 75 yards-plus in seven of the final eight games of the 2018 season.
Selected in the 2nd round (36th overall) in 2018, Darius Leonard has had a lot of hurdles to get to the NFL. Whether it was being denied the chance to play for his favorite college (Clemson), to being called one of the worst picks in the 2018 Draft, the chip has always been there for Leonard.
Luckily for the Colts, Leonard used that chip on the football field. Smashing a franchise record 163 tackles, seven sacks, four fumbles, two interceptions, and earning First-Team All-Pro honors in year one, Leonard quickly established himself as one if not the most dynamic defenders in the league. Leonard’s historic season likewise won him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Even still, Leonard is not satisfied and still believes that he has a lot more to accomplish in this league.
"I wasn't named MVP, I wasn't a Super Bowl Champion and I wasn't a Pro Bowler," Leonard said.
For a player who had such a historic season in 2018, the idea of Leonard ascending to new heights should get Colts fans shaking with excitement at the mere thought.
Okay, I admit it. This one was a given.
After going through surgery to repair his throwing shoulder, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's future in the NFL was in question. Even Luck himself has admitted to this fear at one point during the 2017 season.
"I was scared, scared to my core, in my insides," Luck said. "There was a time that I was very scared about football, and about my place in football."
It certainly was a long, difficult road to recovery for Luck. But, fortunately for the Colts, the 29-year-old quarterback was able to participate in training camp, play in some preseason games, and eventually picked up where he left off the last time he was (fairly) healthy in 2014 by recording career highs in completion percentage (67.3) and quarterback rating (98.7).
Luck's numbers likely would've been better if not for having to shake off some rust in first three regular season games, two where he had two of his four lowest ratings of the season. Also, for the first time in his career, Andrew Luck had a competent rushing attack. This allowed Luck and the Colts offense to be a more balanced attack instead of padding No. 12's stats.
Want more RosterGuy.com content? Listen every Monday to our podcast hosted by contributor, Eric Seaman. Eric will be joined each week by various RosterGuy.com contributors and other guests to talk Indianapolis Colts, the NFL, and much more.