INDIANAPOLIS — Opposing defensive linemen are going to have to get used to something when they face the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, and that's an offensive line that truly wants to dominate them.
In the past, the Colts' front line has lacked depth and has been ravaged by injury. They've even occasionally had trouble just fielding enough players to fill out a rotation, let alone having a gameplan beyond simply blocking their assignment.
This new group is deep, and they want to be nasty. That much was evident when they went out and selected guard Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall in the draft, who was arguably the nastiest player in the entire 2018 NFL Draft class.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Nelson told the media, "I want to dominate all my opponents and take their will away to play the game (by) finishing them past the whistle."
That's brutally honest — not the type of humble, just-happy-to-be-here answer many rookies give.
This offseason, the Colts also signed offensive tackle Austin Howard, guard Matt Slauson and re-signed guard/tackle Jack Mewhort. That trio has learned a thing or two about imposing their will on defensive linemen over the course of 241 combined starts.
Two picks after the Colts selected Nelson, they selected another guard in Braden Smith. He, too, wants to leave an impact on the opponent. Following the draft, he talked about the toughness that the Colts are looking to instill:
"That kind of sets the groundwork for what my game is all about because even at a young age I have always been preached to finish, get after them [and] put people on their back. It's something I enjoy doing and obviously playing in the SEC you've got to have that mentality if you want to be successful."
With the offseason program now officially over and players beginning to get used to their new teammates, third-year Colts center Ryan Kelly said he hopes opposing defenses will have a different expectation week in and week out when taking on the Indy big men.
"Just finishing," Kelly said. "It's just when a defensive line comes up and they see us walking to the line of scrimmage, they know, 'Okay, these guys are going to pepper us every single time.' If it's that late shove at the end of the game or at the end of the play or whatever it is to protect our wide receivers or our running backs, all that kind of stuff, it just instills a mindset to the entire defense that we're playing against that, 'Look, these are our guys, we're going to protect them and you're not going to touch them.'"