2018 Colts Review: Pro Football Focus Evaluations

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INDIANAPOLIS — If you've been following along with us this year then you've noticed that Pro Football Focus had graded Indianapolis Colts players pretty favorably throughout the season. Players like quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and linebacker Darius Leonard have been mainstays near the top of their weekly grades, and now that their season is over we can take a look at the body of work for 2018.

There aren't just grades to process at this time of year; there are awards, stats and other recognition that is being doled out. Here is what else PFF had to offer on the Colts.

CAREER YEARS

There are 16 players currently on the Colts’ roster who had their best season in 2018 according to PFF. That includes prominent players like Luck, running back Marlon Mack, Hilton, defensive lineman Denico Autry, cornerbacks Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II and safety Malik Hooker.

  • QB Andrew Luck (91.1)
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (86.6)
  • LS Luke Rhodes (80.8)
  • S Malik Hooker (79.7)
  • ED Geneo Grissom (78.0)
  • CB Pierre Desir (77.7)

While Desir had a career year in coverage, his ability against the run was key in the Colts’ cover-2 heavy defense. He finished the season with the second-best run defense grade of all corners.” - PFF

  • DL Jihad Ward (75.7)
  • DL Hassan Ridgeway (73.9)
  • G Mark Glowinski (72.7)
  • C Evan Boehm (70.7)
  • RB Marlon Mack (70.3)
  • DL Denico Autry (69.9)
  • CB Kenny Moore II (69.2)
  • T Le’Raven Clark (67.9)
  • ED Al-Quadin Muhammad (64.4)
  • WR Chester Rogers (63.1)

TOP PERFORMERS

The following Colts players all graded among the top 15 at their position group.

  • QB Andrew Luck (QB3, 91.1)
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (WR10, 86.6)
  • LB Darius Leonard (LB7, 82.0)
  • S Malik Hooker (S14, 79.7)
  • LB/ST Najee Goode (ST14, 79.5)
  • G Quenton Nelson (G6, 74.3)
  • G Mark Glowinski (G10, 72.7)
  • C Ryan Kelly (C8, 69.9)

SIGNATURE STATS LEADERS

  • Anthony Walker was the No. 1 linebacker in average yards after the catch allowed (4.41)

While Leonard received the lion's share of the attention in the middle of the Colts defense, he and just about any other Colts defender you talk to will mention the impact that Walker had on the team in 2018. Coming out of Northwestern in 2017, Walker was known for his high football I.Q. and the ability to be a quarterback of sorts on the field for the defense. In this metric, PFF points out that Walker snuffed out pass-catchers quickly. only allowing an average of 4.41 yards after the catch on completions in his zone.

  • Quenton Nelson was the No. 3 offensive lineman in positive-to-negative run-block ratio (1.36)

Nelson was one of the league's top offensive lineman in run blocking, ranking third-overall in positive-to-negative run-block grades. PFF's metric for positive-to-negative run-block ratio is explained as follows: "On every run play of every game, every offensive lineman on the field receives a +/- grade from -2.0 to +2.0. Any play where he’s given a grade greater than 0.0, it’s charted as a positively graded run-block snap and vice versa."

RANKINGS

We knew they’d be better, but I don’t think even the biggest Colts homer could have foreseen this coming. Drafting the highest-graded rookie guard though and the second-highest-graded rookie tackle will do that. Everyone and their mother predicted Quenton Nelson would be a stud, and he was as a second-team PFF All-Pro, but Braden Smith going from college guard to pro tackle was a wildcard. Fortunately, that card came up aces as Smith was PFF’s 25th-highest graded tackle on the season.” - PFF

Leonard finished the season ranked sixth out of 98 linebackers who saw at least 200 defensive snaps in terms of overall PFF grade, and he was one of just two linebackers (Bobby Wagner being the other) who finished the season with grades north of 75.0 in run defense, coverage and as a pass rusher. The second-round pick was one of just two linebackers this season to record at least 30 run stops while missing fewer than five tackles in run defense, he tied for third among linebackers with a combined nine interceptions and forced incompletions in coverage and his 39.5 pass-rushing productivity rating led all linebackers who rushed the QB at least 25 times in 2018 (PRP measures pressure created on a per-snap basis, weighted towards sacks).” - PFF

“Out of 91 guards who saw at least 200 offensive snaps in 2018, Nelson finished the year ranked sixth in terms of overall PFF grade. Nelson was just one of 10 guards this season to log at least 500 in pass protection while earning a pass-blocking efficiency rating of at least 98.0 (PBE measures pressure surrendered on a per-snap basis, weighted towards sacks) and out of the 36 guards who logged at least 300 run-blocking snaps he ranked third by earning a positive PFF grade on 13.6% of his run blocks.” - PFF

"The Colts were a team we touted at many times this season, and even after their 1-5 start. In a great combination of quarterback play and coaching on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the Colts have gone from a team that many thought was poorly run to the model for how teams like the 49ers should approach their offseasons moving forward. Twenty-eight percent of Andrew Luck’s throws this season were positively graded, while under 13 percent were negatively graded, numbers we’ll likely see continue to diverge as he gets more comfortable with Frank Reich’s scheme moving forward." - PFF

AWARDS SEASON

The rookie mauler has received a cavalcade of recognition and postseason awards, this one being of pretty high praise. Nelson finished the season graded as the No. 1 rookie offensive lineman (74.3), and was the third-ranked guard (and top-ranked left guard) (76.7) in all of the league when considering both the regular and postseason. If you're a GM and take an interior offensive lineman in the top 10 of the draft, this is the kind of return you're praying for.

There once was legitimate concern about whether Andrew Luck would ever play football again. There were even more questions about whether he would ever return to the elite level of play that he showcased just two years ago when he recorded an overall grade of 90.4 in 2016…

He finished the season ranked third among all quarterbacks in PFF grade at 91.1 behind only Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. If it weren’t for the brilliance of those two, his name would be soundly in the MVP conversation. After that 1-5 start, the Colts only lost one more game the rest of the season, and it was due largely to Luck showing that the shoulder issues that plagued him for over a year were in the rear-view mirror and he was still in the elite tier of quarterbacks.” - PFF

Leonard may have impressive tackle totals but he was also equally impressive when blitzing the passer, dropping in coverage as well as stopping ball carriers. As stated above, no matter which way you see the race between LVE and Leonard, the fact remains that they both have secured their place to stand at the top of the rookie class and even to be named among the best at their position across the league.” - PFF

One of the more impressive turnarounds in recent memory, the Colts offensive line went from complete liability to more than an adequate unit as Nelson and his counterpart on the All-Rookie team are largely to thank. Nelson was a stud in pass protection, leading the team in pass-blocking grade while allowing just 23 pressures on a whopping 730 pass-blocking snaps.” - PFF

Smith was integral in the rebuild of a Colts offensive line that allowed more than double the amount of sacks in 2017 (39) than they did in 2018 (16). On the season, Smith allowed 28 pressures over the course of 520 snaps in pass protection.” - PFF

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