2018 Colts Review: Rookie Watch

021219_rookie-watch

INDIANAPOLIS — Our comprehensive look back at the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 season continues today with a deep dive into the performance of the team’s rookies, both drafted and undrafted, who were on the active roster for at least one game throughout the year.

The Colts' 2018 rookie class was a smash hit, and recently was graded as the best in the National Football League by NFL.com's Nick Shook, who gave the class an "A." Here's what he wrote, followed by a synopsis of each rookie's performance:

"What a class. GM Chris Ballard eschewed sexier picks in the early rounds, instead selecting the best lineman in the draft in Nelson, who immediately paid dividends while earning All-Pro honors. Smith is a competent tackle who could improve into a very good player with proper coaching. Leonard was a revelation at linebacker, taking home Defensive Rookie of the Year while also earning All-Pro honors. Turay's future is bright on the edge after he recorded four sacks in 14 games. Hines was a nice change-of-pace back who found success in the passing game. Cain could develop into a good receiver if he can return to full strength after tearing his ACL in August. Lewis needs more reps to develop, but recorded two sacks in eight games. Wilkins was a nice find in the fifth round. Adams played in all 16 games, recording 33 tackles as a depth defender. Franklin was another depth defender with a less productive rookie campaign. In all, an excellent draft for Ballard, who landed two All-Pros, solidified what was a porous line and helped turn around the Colts."

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» Matthew Adams, linebacker (seventh-round [221st-overall] pick): In 16 games (five starts) in 2018, Adams had 26 tackles (19 solo), 5.0 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and seven special teams stops. In Week 16, he had five solo tackles with 3.0 tackles for loss. Appeared in two postseason games and had one tackle and one special teams stop. Total regular season snap counts: 215 defense (21 percent), 296 special teams (67 percent).

» Deon Cain, wide receiver (sixth-round [185th-overall] pick): Cain suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Colts’ preseason opener Aug. 9 against the Seattle Seahawks. He hopes to be back to full strength by training camp. Total regular season snap counts: none.

» Daurice Fountain, wide receiver (fifth-round [159th-overall] pick): In 2018, Fountain appeared in one regular season game and did not record any statistics. He appeared in the team’s two postseason games and was targeted with one pass. Total regular season snap counts: 3 offense (<1 percent), 3 special teams (1 percent).

» Zaire Franklin, linebacker (seventh-round [235th-overall] pick): In 2018, Franklin played in 16 games (two starts) and had 25 tackles (10 solo), one pass defensed and four special teams stops. He started two postseason games and had one tackle. Total regular season snap counts: 176 defense (17 percent), 230 special teams (52 percent).

» Nyheim Hines, running back (fourth-round [104th-overall] pick): Hines appeared in 16 games (four starts) in 2018, totaling 85 carries for 314 yards and two touchdowns and 63 receptions for 425 yards and two touchdowns. He scored his first-career touchdown in a Week 2 win at Washington. In Week 4, he had a team-high nine receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 8, Hines set a career-high in rushing yards (78) on 11 carries. In Week 17, Hines passed Edgerrin James (62) for the third-most receptions by a rookie in franchise history. He appeared in two postseason games and had three carries for 24 yards. Total regular season snap counts: 499 offense (44 percent, 16 special teams (4 percent).

» Steve Ishmael, wide receiver (undrafted free agent): Ishmael was signed to the Colts’ active roster from the practice squad on Oct. 26. He was inactive for Indy’s Week 8 win at Oakland. Following the conclusion of the postseason, Ishmael was signed by the Colts to a reserve/future contract. Total regular season snap counts: none.

» Darius Leonard, linebacker (second-round [36th-overall] pick): In 2018, Leonard started 15 games and led the league with 163 tackles (111 solo), 7.0 sacks, 12.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, eight passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He became the first rookie to lead the league in tackles since Luke Kuechly in 2012. Leonard was named Associated Press First-Team All-Pro. Him and Quenton Nelson joined Alan Ameche (1955), Milt Davis (1957) and Edgerrin James (1999) as the only Colts rookies to be selected AP First-Team All-Pro. Leonard and Nelson became the first rookie tandem to be named AP First-Team All-Pro since Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers (Chicago) did it in 1965. Leonard was also named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, becoming just the third player in team history to win the award, joining Vernon Maxwell (1983) and Duane Bickett (1985). Leonard was named the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year, and also selected by PFWA to its All-AFC and All-Rookie Teams. Total regular season snaps counts: 956 defense (91 percent), 20 special teams (5 percent).

» Tyquan Lewis, defensive tackle/end (second-round [64th-overall] pick): In 2018, Lewis — who missed the first half of the season while on injured reserve with a toe injury — played in eight games (six starts) and had 13 tackles (nine solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and one pass defensed. In Week 15, he had four tackles (three solo), 2.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Total regular season snap counts: 338 defense (32 percent), 8 special teams (2 percent).

» Skai Moore, linebacker (undrafted free agent): Moore appeared in nine games (one start) in 2018 and totaled four solo tackles. He was one of five rookies to start Week 1. Moore was placed on IR with a neck injury, ending his season, on Dec. 18. Total regular season snap counts: 72 defense (7 percent), 38 special teams (9 percent).

» Quenton Nelson, guard (first-round [sixth-overall] pick): Nelson started all 16 games in 2018 at left guard, and in Weeks 7 and 8, helped the Colts rush for over 200 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in the same season since 1985. He was also part of an offensive line that didn’t allow a sack in five straight games, tying the New York Giants (2010) and the Tennessee Titans (2008) for the third-longest streak since 1982. Nelson was named to his first Pro Bowl and was the first rookie Colts offensive lineman to earn that honor since Chris Hinton in 1983. Nelson was also selected AP First-Team All-Pro; him and Darius Leonard joined Alan Ameche (1955), Milt Davis (1957) and Edgerrin James (1999) as the only Colts rookies to be selected AP First-Team All-Pro. Nelson and Leonard became the first rookie tandem to be named AP First-Team All-Pro since Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers (Chicago) did it in 1965. The NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for October — becoming the first guard in NFL history to earn Rookie of the Month honors — Nelson was also named to The Sporting News’ All-Pro team as well as the PFWA All-NFL, All-AFC and All-Rookie teams. Total regular season snap counts: 1,136 offense (100 percent), 77 special teams (18 percent).

» George Odum, safety (undrafted free agent): Odum appeared in 16 games (two starts) in 2018 and had 28 tackles (19 solo), 1.0 tackle for loss, one interception, two passes defensed and nine special teams stops. In Week 11, he made his first-career start and had six tackles (four solo) and 1.0 tackle for loss. In Week 15, Odum recorded his first-career interception and added five solo tackles and one pass defensed. In Week 16, he tied for the team-high in tackles with nine. He appeared in both postseason games and totaled two tackles (one for a loss) and one special teams stop. Total regular season snap counts: 204 defense (20 percent), 286 special teams (65 percent).

» Braden Smith, guard/tackle (second-round [37th-overall] pick): Smith, who took over as the starter at right tackle in Week 5, appeared in 15 games (13 starts) in 2018, and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. In Weeks 7 and 8, he helped the Colts rush for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1985 season. Smith was part of an offensive line that didn’t allow a sack in five straight games, which tied the Giants (2010) and the Titans (2008) for the third-longest streak since 1982. He started two postseason games and helped the Colts rush for a postseason franchise record 200 yards during AFC Wild Card weekend. Total regular season snap counts: 853 offense (75 percent), 5 special teams (1 percent).

» Kemoko Turay, defensive end (second-round [52nd-overall] pick): Turay played in 14 games (three starts) in 2018, totaling 15 tackles (11 solo), 1.0 tackle for loss, 4.0 sacks and one forced fumble. In Week 3, he recorded his first-career sack. In Week 6, he made his first-career start, and the following week he had three solo tackles, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble. Turay appeared in two postseason contests and had two solo tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss. Total regular season snap counts: 383 defense (37 percent), 28 special teams (6 percent).

» Jordan Wilkins, running back (fifth-round [169th-overall] pick): In 2018, Wilkins appeared in 16 games (three starts) and had 60 carries for 336 yards and one touchdown, as well as 16 receptions for 85 yards. In Week 10, Wilkins had a career-long 53-yard rush on his only carry of the game. He scored his first touchdown on an 18-yard rush in Week 11. Wilkins played in two postseason games and had two carries for nine yards. Total regular season snap counts: 198 offense (17 percent), 138 special teams (31 percent).

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