INDIANAPOLIS — "My vision for the Colts is simple: we are going to work together as an organization to build a winning culture that is competing for championships year in and year out. That's easier said than done, and it's going to take a lot of hard work by everybody. Everyone will have to understand that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves and that every decision we make will be in the best interest of the horseshoe."
That was Chris Ballard back on Jan. 30, 2017, when he was introduced as the newest general manager of the Indianapolis Colts.
Almost 2 1/2 years later, you'd be hard pressed to find many people who don't believe the Colts are clearly on the right track.
After a challenging 2017 season, Indianapolis surged back in 2018. With a new head coach in Frank Reich, an extremely talented draft class that featured two First-Team All-Pro selections, a rebuilt defense and a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts last year went 10-6 in the regular season and earned their first playoff appearance in four years, advancing to the Divisional Round.
This offseason, the Colts continued plugging away, with an exciting 10-man 2019 NFL Draft class, as well as big free agent additions like defensive end Justin Houston and wide receiver Devin Funchess at major positions of need. The team also signed key core players like Mark Glowinski, Pierre Desir, Rigoberto Sanchez and Kenny Moore II to contract extensions, and have plenty of cap space left over.
But the Colts, of course, aren't the NFL organization doing things right and headed in a positive direction. Several teams' fanbases are just as excited as Indy's heading into the 2019 season and beyond — and for good reason.
So how do we try to evaluate which teams are in the best position over the next few years? That's when ESPN's Louis Riddick, Kevin Seifert and Field Yates enter the picture, as they recently released their "NFL Future Power Rankings."
Using a 100 through 50 (and below) scale, with five weighted categories for roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent), you get a good idea just how healthy each franchise is perceived to be over the next three years.
So where did the Indianapolis Colts rank on this list?
Their overall score of 87.8 topped the New England Patriots (87.2), Philadelphia Eagles (87.0), Kansas City Chiefs (85.5) and, to round out the Top 5, the Seattle Seahawks (84.9).
You can see the entire list by clicking here (ESPN Insider subscription required), but here's how the Colts broke down in the various categories:
|Overall roster (minus QB)||84.7||4|
Here's Yates on why the Colts earned their No. 1 ranking:
"A general manager with a plan, an experienced coaching staff with acumen, a star quarterback who put lingering health concerns to bed last season, a developing defensive nucleus, a stud offensive line, exciting young pass-catchers and a healthy salary-cap situation. You get the point. The Colts have the makings of a team set to do major damage over the next five-plus years. Indy plays in a competitive division and has holes to fill on the roster -- it worked hard to improve its edge rushing this offseason -- but few teams, if any, have a future as bright."
Like any other team, the Colts have areas in which they need to improve (Riddick points at the second and the third levels of the defense), and other areas the team can continue to address (Seifert mentions the fact that the Colts could very well face the possibility of replacing members of its current coaching staff that could realistically become head coaching candidates in the next few years).
But while we all know to take "power rankings" with a grain of salt — after all, the Colts were ranked at or near the bottom of just about every media outlet's NFL power rankings entering the 2018 season, and look how those projections played out — this ESPN piece is the latest example of how Ballard's vision back in January 2017 is starting to play out.