INDIANAPOLIS — Can a rookie finally end the Indianapolis Colts' long saga at the No. 2 cornerback position?
The team — and Quincy Wilson — certainly hope so.
While Vontae Davis has locked down the No. 1 spot at the position for the past five-plus years in Indy, the team in recent seasons hasn't been able to find a consistent option opposite of the veteran Davis. Names like Greg Toler, Jerraud Powers, Patrick Robinson and Antonio Cromartie have come and gone, but none have been able to stick.
Coupled with the expected full-time move of the versatile Darius Butler — who has been the only cornerback outside of Davis to put up consistent productivity in recent seasons — to safety, and the Colts now find themselves relying on Wilson to end that lull at the No. 2 corner spot, and quickly.
Wilson, whom the Colts selected in the second round of this year's draft, had a productive career at Florida, where he appeared in 39 games over three seasons and recorded six picks, 84 tackles and 14 passes defensed.
Wilson's young — he's just 20 years old entering his first NFL training camp — but new Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard, who has a history of finding productive members of the secondary at his previous stops, couldn't pass him up.
"When we took Quincy (Wilson), we really liked him throughout the process," Ballard said after the conclusion of the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. "I mean, I gave it away the other day when we were talking – big, athletic corners that have ball skills and that's what we're looking for. We think he has got a lot of upside. He's 20 years old, he's still young. He's still got a lot of upside. He's a good man to man corner. He's big (6 foot 1, 206 pounds) and he's got great ball skills."
So outside of Davis and Wilson, what does the cornerback position look like for the Colts heading into training camp? Let's take a look:
— Vontae Davis
— Rashaan Melvin
— Darryl Morris
— Quincy Wilson
— Nate Hairston
NOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
— Dante Blackmon
— Chris Milton
— Tevin Mitchel
— Darius Butler (moved to safety)
— Charles James II (waived)
— Patrick Robinson (released)
Last season, the Colts ended up taking six cornerbacks out of camp onto their Week 1 roster: Butler, Davis, Robinson, Neiko Thorpe, Cromartie and Morris.
This year, it appears that just two of those names — Davis and Morris — could be in a similar situation come Week 1 of the 2017 season. So who will fill in those other four to five spots?
Well, there's the aforementioned Wilson, and then there's another 2017 draft pick: Nate Hairston, a 6-foot, 195-pound converted wide receiver out of Temple who was selected in the fifth round (158th overall).
Melvin, meanwhile, came on strong early in the year as a key member of the Colts' special teams units, and one might believe he currently has a hold that fourth or fifth spot at cornerback.
So it would appear the last spot or two, for now, will come down to undrafted rookie Dante Blackmon, Chris Milton, who played well in six games down the stretch for Indy in his rookie season in 2016, and Tevin Mitchel, who has never been able to shake the injury bug since being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and is yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.
Special teams, one might figure, will likely play a huge role in determining who wins that last spot.
2017 Colts Training Camp Previews:
• Offensive Line
• Defensive Line
• Running Backs
• Inside Linebackers
• Tight Ends
• Outside Linebackers
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