It’s no doubt that the Indianapolis Colts and general manager Chris Ballard filled many areas of weakness during free agency and the 2022 NFL draft.
Addressing the wide receiver, tight end and tackle positions were huge for the team to take the next step in a very crowded AFC. With the new arrivals, however, it puts many players on the hot seat and could result in some even losing their jobs by the time the team travels to Houston for the season opener in September.
Every team needs depth, and the Colts are still adding key pieces that will help them in case of an injury. However, the NFL is a business, and the 53 players on the roster will be the ones making a difference on Sundays.
Here’s a list of players most in jeopardy of losing their spots this offseason:
Dulin has emerged as the go-to guy for the Colts in recent years. This speedy receiver has filled in when this team has been riddled with injuries and has provided some much-needed production. His most significant contribution from him, though, comes on special teams. He has filled in as a returner and has been fundamental in solidifying the Colts’ punt and kickoff units.
Dulin however currently sits at WR No. 4 on the Colts’ depth chart. While his deep presence can be useful, the Colts will have Parris Campbell back. Combine that with the rookie Alec Pierce and the Colts have their pick of players to throw to down the field. This could leave Dulin on the chopping block in terms of a big role.
Isaiah Rodgers will likely be the Colts primary kick returner, with Nyheim Hines reprising his role as punt returner. Though his roster spot is likely safe given his contributions on special teams, he certainly could find himself further down on the depth chart now.
Banogu’s time in Indy has been underwhelming since he was drafted in 2019. He has only recorded 2.5 sacks in his career and less than 20 total tackles. Edge rusher was a huge need for the Colts this offseason, and with the arrival of Yannick Ngakoue via trade, the edge rusher room is getting a bit crowded.
There could be additional pieces the Colts pick up and develop this off-season, especially on defense. With that, we could see some turnover on that side of the ball with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley bringing in players that better fit his scheme from him.
This is a big season for Banogu because he’s going into a contract year and with the new additions, he’ll need a strong showing at training camp.
A huge position of need this offseason was cornerback, and with the signing of Stephon Gilmore, the position is looking very strong going into the 2022 season. Tell is another player who has been underwhelming and never found the right fit on this talented Colts defense. In his rookie year in 2019, Tell had a minimal role on the Colts defense with 26 total tackles and a forced fumble.
Currently the fourth corner on Indy’s depth chart, it will be tough for Tell to crack the 53-man roster. He will likely be put on the practice squad, where he has spent all of 2021. The only option for Tell would be to try and lock up a role on special teams and become a deeper option at the cornerback position. Otherwise, he could very well be cut.
After becoming a fan favorite in 2020, Blankenship will have to bounce back in a big way to keep his job as the team’s placekicker. 2021 was filled with injuries and struggles for “Hot-Rod”, which led to him missing the majority of the season.
Michael Badgley was very impressive filling in for Blankenship, going 85% on field goals and nailing all of his extra points. If the Colts choose to, they could cut Blankenship and bring back Badgley. Or they could roll with Jake Verity, who signed a deal this offseason.
While I don’t see the team doing this, if Rodrigo’s injury does impact his performance, we could see someone else kicking the pigskin this year.
The potential is there. Patmon has been stranded on the practice squad for the majority of the last three seasons, with no opportunities to break out and crack the Colts roster as a routine player. The greatest moment of his young career came on Christmas Day when he caught a miraculous touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to seal the game for Indy. However, that grab was one of two catches Patmon has had in his entire career.
Similar to Dulin, Patmon may not have the talent and big-play capabilities to make this team for the opener at Houston. Not to mention, the Colts could bring in another veteran receiver like TY Hilton or Julio Jones to beef up this young receiving corps. If that happens, we could see some players who have been waiting for an opportunity, see that chance come and go.
While Jackson doesn’t currently hold a massive role in the offense, he is the team’s RB3 right now behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. He could still hold that role come Week 1, but there is plenty more competition to fend off.
The Colts signed three running backs following the draft in the form of Max Borghi, D’Vonte Price and CJ Verdell. They all bring different styles and levels of athleticism to the table so this will be a fun competition to keep an eye on.
While Pryor is still likely to get the first crack at winning the starting left tackle job, he will have some stiff competition. Not only did the Colts select a high-upside prospect in Bernhard Raimann during the third round of the draft, but they also signed veteran swing tackle Dennis Kelly.
It’s not likely that Pryor would be cut from the roster if he loses the competition. His position flexibility may be too valuable to do so. But there is certainly a chance he loses his chance at starting by Week 1.