INDIANAPOLIS — With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror, the Indianapolis Colts officially have their first full 90-man offseason roster. Here's how the roster breaks down by position:
QUARTERBACK (4): Jacoby Brissett, Jacob Eason, Chad Kelly, Philip Rivers
» Newcomers: 2 (Eason, Rivers)
» Quarterbacks on Week 1 roster in 2019: 2 (Brissett, Brian Hoyer)
» Notes: The Colts utilized free agency to bring in a new starter at quarterback this offseason, signing eight-time Pro Bowler Philip Rivers, who spent the first 16 years of his career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. General manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich have indicated it'll be Rivers starting with Jacoby Brissett as his backup, with the 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason and Chad Kelly battling it out for the No. 3 job.
» Keep an eye on: How many quarterbacks will the Colts keep on the 53-man roster entering the regular season? The team traditionally has kept two, but had three quarterbacks — Brissett, Brian Hoyer and Kelly — on the 53-man roster for the second half of the 2019 season. Indy really likes both Eason, a fourth-round pick with a high ceiling, and Kelly, who has excelled in pretty much every preseason opportunity he's gotten with the Colts and the Denver Broncos. Will they be willing to risk putting either on waivers to get them on the practice squad?
RUNNING BACK (6): Bruce Anderson III, Nyheim Hines, Darius Jackson, Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins
» Newcomers: 1 (Taylor; Anderson III and Jackson were members of Colts' practice squad last year)
» Running backs on Week 1 roster in 2019: 4 (Hines, Mack, Wilkins, Jonathan Williams)
» Notes: The Colts could very well have one of the top 1-2 running back punches in the NFL after moving up three spots in the second round of this year's NFL Draft to select Wisconsin standout Jonathan Taylor. Taylor, a two-time Doak Walker Award winner, should pair well with returning Colts starter Marlon Mack, who had his first-career 1,000-yard rushing season in 2019. In three years for the Badgers, Taylor carried the ball 926 times for 6,174 yards (6.7 avg.) and 50 touchdowns to go with 42 receptions for 407 yards (9.7 avg.) and five scores through the air. He was just the seventh player in FBS history to rush for at least 6,000 yards, and was the first player to ever do it in just three seasons. He ranks sixth all-time in FBS history in rushing.
» Keep an eye on: While Mack and Taylor will be the 1-2 punch at running back for the Colts, Hines' role shouldn't change much — in fact, he might see even more action in 2020. Hines, who is more of a lightning quick pass-catching specialist out of the backfield, could very well benefit from the addition of Rivers, who has been known to heavily target players just like Hines throughout his career with the Chargers — guys like Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead and Austin Ekeler.
FULLBACK (1): Roosevelt Nix
» Newcomers: 1 (Nix)
» Fullbacks on Week 1 roster in 2019: None.
» Notes: Nix's signing this offseason gives the Colts a true fullback on their roster for the first time in years; fullback Stanley Havili played in 13 games with eight starts in Indy in 2013, but since that time the team has utilized players from other positions in those formations as a "fullback." Nix, 28, has been one of the league's top fullbacks and special team contributors since entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. In 2017, Nix led the way for All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell, who had 321 rushing attempts for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground that year; for his efforts, Nix was named to his first-career Pro Bowl.
» Keep an eye on: Just how much will Nix be utilized in the Colts' offense? Reich told reporters May 4 that the team will typically utilize one-back sets that don't call for the use of a fullback, but that he can envision utilizing two-back sets with Nix on the field maybe 10 to 20 percent of the time. That'll be anywhere from five to 10 snaps, give or take a play or two, a ballgame, and then Nix could very well get the bulk of his other work on the Colts' special teams units.
WIDE RECEIVER (13): Rodney Adams, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Daurice Fountain, DeMichael Harris, Malik Henry, T.Y. Hilton, Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Dezmon Patmon, Michael Pittman Jr., Artavis Scott, Chad Williams
» Newcomers: 5 (Adams, Harris, Patmon, Pittman Jr., Scott; Henry was a member of the Colts' practice squad last year)
» Wide receivers on Week 1 roster in 2019: 6 (Deon Cain, Campbell, Devin Funchess, Hilton, Pascal, Chester Rogers)
» Notes: The Colts used the draft this year to add two big-body wide receivers in Pittman Jr. and Patmon. Pittman Jr., the Colts' second-round (34th-overall) selection, was one of the top receivers in college football in 2019; the 6-foot-4, 223-pound USC product was named an AP Second-Team All-American after totaling 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns, ranking fifth in the nation in receptions, 15th in receiving yards and 19th in receiving scores. Patmon, who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 225 pounds, hails from Washington State, where he totaled 156 receptions for 1,976 yards and 13 touchdowns in 43 total games.
» Keep an eye on: Depending on how many receivers the Colts want to keep on their 53-man roster, there could be quite the battle between nine players for just one or two spots. We know at this point the team's top four receivers are Hilton, Pascal, Campbell and Pittman Jr., but can guys like Dulin and Johnson prove their worth on special teams, like they did last year, to earn a spot? Can Fountain, who was impressing in his second training camp last year before suffering a gruesome season-ending ankle injury, get back to that same level? Can Patmon fully embrace "playing big" and have a standout performance to earn a job? Or can someone like Adams, Harris, Henry, Scott or Williams work their way up the depth chart throughout camp and the preseason?
(Note: As of the date of this article, Pittman Jr. was yet to sign his rookie contract.)
TIGHT END (7): Mo Alie-Cox, Ian Bunting, Trey Burton, Jack Doyle, Farrod Green, Xavier Grimble, Matt Lengel
» Newcomers: 3 (Burton, Green, Grimble; Bunting spent time on the Colts' practice squad last year)
» Tight ends on Week 1 roster in 2019: 4 (Alie-Cox, Doyle, Eric Ebron, Hale Hentges)
» Notes: The Colts will be looking to replace the offensive production of Ebron, who in his two seasons in Indy had 97 total receptions for 1,125 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns, including his Pro Bowl 2018 campaign, in which he had career-highs in receptions (66), receiving yards (750) and receiving scores (13), leading all NFL tight ends in that category. Ebron this offseason signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps paving the way for a bigger role for Alie-Cox, who will be entering his third NFL season — and just his fourth year playing football in general — in 2020. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound Alie-Cox, who played basketball at VCU, has 15 career receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but certainly has the shown the athleticism to handle added responsibilities his first two years in Indy.
» Keep an eye on: Burton could very well be one of the top additions to the Colts' roster this offseason. The 29-year-old Florida product is entering his seventh NFL season in 2020, and has plenty of experience playing in Reich's system; Reich was Burton's offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 and 2017, winning a championship together in Super Bowl LII. Burton can do it all as a blocker (he was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked blocking tight end in 2018) and as a pass-catcher (he has 131 career receptions for 1,282 yards and 12 touchdowns), but he's working his way back to the field after undergoing season-ending hip surgery as a member of the Chicago Bears in December; Burton is hoping to be good to go by training camp.
OFFENSIVE LINE (15): Anthony Castonzo (T), Le'Raven Clark (G/T), Andrew Donnal (T), Jake Eldrenkamp (G), Mark Glowinski (G), Chaz Green (G), Brandon Hitner (T), Ryan Kelly (C), Cedrick Lang (T), Quenton Nelson (G), Carter O'Donnell (T), Javon Patterson (C), Danny Pinter (G), Braden Smith (T/G), Travis Vornkahl (T)
» Newcomers: 5 (Donnal, Green, Hitner, O'Donnell, Pinter; Lang and Vornkahl spent time on the Colts' practice squad last year)
» Offensive linemen on Week 1 roster in 2019: 8 (Josh Andrews, Castonzo, Clark, Glowinski, Joe Haeg, Kelly, Nelson, Smith)
» Notes: The Colts are returning their starting five offensive linemen for a third straight season in Castonzo (left tackle), Nelson (left guard), Kelly (center), Glowinski (right guard) and Smith (right tackle). The group is already considered one of the best offensive lines in all of football, and is hoping to further establish itself in 2020 by meshing an outstanding performance in pass blocking in 2018 (18 sacks allowed, fewest in the NFL) with an outstanding performance in run blocking in 2019 (1,567 rushing yards ranked seventh in the league and just barely out of the top-five).
» Keep an eye on: Just who will be utilized as backups behind those five talented starters up front is a big question mark at this point of the offseason for the Colts. The team saw two of its key offensive line backups in center/guard Andrews (New York Jets) and guard/tackle/center Haeg (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) depart this offseason in free agency. The Colts did re-sign Clark to compete for the swing tackle position once again, and used a fifth-round pick this year on Pinter, who played right tackle at Ball State but seems to project more at guard or center in Indy. Eldrenkamp and Patterson (a seventh-round pick last year who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the offseason program) should also be in the mix to compete for backup jobs along the offensive line, but it's really a toss-up from there between Donnal, Green, Hitner, Lang, O'Donnell and Vornkahl.
Get your first look at the offensive players currently on the Indianapolis Colts 90-man roster.
DEFENSIVE LINE (15): Denico Autry, Ben Banogu, DeForest Buckner, Kameron Cline, Kendall Coleman, Sheldon Day, Gerri Green, Justin Houston, Jegs Jegede, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyquan Lewis, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Chris Williams, Robert Windsor
» Newcomers: 6 (Buckner, Cline, Coleman, Day, Williams, Windsor; Green spent time on Colts' practice squad last year, while Jegede was on the Colts' injured reserve list in 2019)
» Defensive linemen on Week 1 roster in 2019: 10 (Autry, Banogu, Houston, Margus Hunt, Lewis, Muhammad, Jabaal Sheard, Stewart, Turay, Jihad Ward)
» Notes: The Colts made a huge splash this offseason March 18, when they sent their 2020 first-round (13th-overall) selection to the San Francisco 49ers for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Indy headed into the offseason knowing it needed to get a premier playmaker at the three-technique spot up front, and that's exactly what they got in Buckner, who, at just 26 years old, has collected 262 career tackles (38 for a loss) with 28.5 sacks, 11 passes defensed, seven fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in his first four NFL seasons. He was named a Pro Bowler in 2018 and Second-Team All-Pro in 2019. Buckner should make an immediate impact not just on the defensive line, but on the entire defense.
» Keep an eye on: Sheard still being on the free agent market means that the Colts will have a new starter at left defensive end in 2020, but just who will that be? Muhammad is probably the player who has filled Sheard's role the most often when he's been out the past couple of years, but it'll probably be hard to keep budding pass rusher Kemoko Turay out of the lineup. Turay was the NFL's top-graded edge rusher through five games last year before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, and after a full recovery, it only seems like a matter of time before he flourishes in more of a full-time role. Might the Colts tempt moving veteran Justin Houston over to the left side and start Turay on the right side to begin the season? Also, it's worth noting that Buckner's acquisition means guys like Autry and Lewis could very well see more time at defensive end; both have had success moving around the line in the past.
LINEBACKER (9): Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, Jordan Glasgow, Darius Leonard, Skai Moore, Bobby Okereke, E.J. Speed, Anthony Walker, Brandon Wellington
» Newcomers: 2 (Glasgow, Wellington)
» Linebackers on Week 1 roster in 2019: 6 (Adams, Franklin, Leonard, Okereke, Speed, Walker)
» Notes: The Colts return all their firepower from the linebacker position from 2019, including all three starters in Leonard (WILL), Walker (MIKE) and Okereke (SAM). After being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-Pro in 2018, Leonard in 2019 earned his first Pro Bowl selection and was named Second-Team All-Pro, so while that WILL spot is locked in, could we see more of a rotation at the MIKE spot in certain situations between Walker and Okereke? Walker is about as solid as they come, but the Colts no doubt want to try to figure out ways to get the talented youngster Okereke on the field as much as possible, too, after he was rated as PFF's top rookie linebacker in the NFL (and, not surprisingly, also named to PFF's All-Rookie Team).
» Keep an eye on: Special teams will no doubt dictate who makes the roster at linebacker behind Leonard, Walker and Okereke. Guys like Adams and Franklin have been key to the Colts' top-ranked coverage units for the last couple years, and Speed is still certainly a factor as he enters his second season in 2020, but Glasgow was selected in the sixth round of this year's draft in large part because of how impressive he was on special teams throughout his college career at Michigan. He's certain to make some noise in camp this year to try to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
CORNERBACK (10): T.J. Carrie, Kenny Moore II, Picasso Nelson Jr., Lafayette Pitts, Jackson Porter, Travis Reed, Xavier Rhodes, Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell III, Rock Ya-Sin
» Newcomers: 5 (Carrie, Pitts, Reed, Rhodes, Rodgers; Nelson Jr. and Porter spent time on the Colts' practice squad last year)
» Cornerbacks on Week 1 roster in 2019: 6 (Pierre Desir, Ryan Lewis, Moore II, Tell III, Quincy Wilson, Ya-Sin)
» Notes: After releasing Desir, the team's top outside cornerback the past couple seasons, earlier this offseason, the Colts went out and utilized free agency to sign a former All-Pro in Rhodes, who was a three-time Pro Bowl selection in his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Rhodes, who turns 30 in June, brings a ton of size at 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds, and he's plenty physical; he has 372 career tackles (15 for a loss) with 10 interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles, and the hope is that Rhodes can find his All-Pro form once again playing under two of his former Vikings coaches in current Colts cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon and safeties coach Alan Williams.
» Keep an eye on: Moore II has established himself as one of the top nickel cornerbacks in the NFL; since 2017, he has 176 tackles (10 for a loss) with six interceptions, 19 passes defensed and four sacks, and is one of just eight players in the NFL — and the only cornerback in the league — with those kinds of numbers. But the Colts struggled at times when Moore II was sidelined with injuries in 2019, especially over the final four games of the season, when Indy allowed the highest opponent completion percentage in the NFL (73 percent), as well as the most opponent pass completions (119), passing yards (1,259), passer rating (120.1), tied for the second-most passing touchdowns (11) and a 50-percent third-down conversion rate, fourth-highest in the league during that span. So to toughen up the competition at that backup nickel corner spot, the team this offseason signed veteran Carrie in free agency, and then selected Rodgers in the sixth round of this year's draft out of UMass; both Carrie and Rodgers will be among those battling for that spot in training camp and the preseason.
SAFETY (6): Julian Blackmon, Malik Hooker, Rolan Milligan, George Odum, Donald Rutledge, Khari Willis
» Newcomers: 2 (Blackmon, Rutledge)
» Safeties on Week 1 roster in 2019: 4 (Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Odum, Willis)
» Notes: With the veteran Geathers still available in free agency, Willis gets the chance to open the season as the starting strong safety after a solid rookie campaign in 2019. The fourth-round pick out of Michigan State ranked as PFF's 26th-best rookie in the NFL, lining up all over the field for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and proving especially effective against the run, as he accumulated the second-most run stops (14) among rookie safeties and finished third in run-stop percentage. In all, Willis finished the 2019 season with 71 tackles (two for a loss) to go along with one pass defensed and one quarterback hit in 14 games played with nine starts.
» Keep an eye on: While he might not be completely ready to go at the start of the regular season, the Colts are expecting Blackmon to be a playmaker all over the secondary sooner rather than later. The 2020 third-round pick out of Utah started his college career as a cornerback, had two solid seasons at that position, and then moved back to safety for his final year in 2019 and was named a Second-Team All-American. Blackmon suffered a knee injury in December, however, and Ballard has indicated he might not be completely ready to go until October, but once he is able to hit the field, his coverage skills he honed at cornerback, matched with a willingness to be physical and tackle thanks to his experience at safety, could very well parlay into a nice role as a safety/big nickel corner type for Eberflus and the Indy defense.
(Note: As of the date of this article, Blackmon was yet to sign his rookie contract.)
Get your first look at the defensive players currently on the Indianapolis Colts 90-man roster.
SPECIALISTS (4): Rodrigo Blankenship (kicker), Chase McLaughlin (kicker), Luke Rhodes (long snapper), Rigoberto Sanchez (punter)
» Newcomers: 1 (Blankenship)
» Special teamers on Week 1 roster in 2019: 3 (Rhodes, Sanchez, Adam Vinatieri)
» Notes: It's been since the 2005 season that the Colts last were without Vinatieri on their roster, but as of now, that illustrious streak will end, and two young guns will get the chance to battle it out to win the Indy kicking job in Blankenship and McLaughlin. Blankenship signed with the Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent on April 29; the Georgia product is the reigning Lou Groza Award winner as the nation's top placekicker, earning First-Team All-American honors in 2019 after converting 27-of-33 field goals (81.8 percent) and all 46 extra-point attempts. In his career, Blankenship converted 80-of-97 field goal attempts (82.5 percent) and all 200 of his extra-point tries. McLaughlin, meanwhile, was an undrafted rookie out of Illinois last season, and after stints filling in for injured kickers with the Chargers and the 49ers, he came on to replace Vinatieri, who had been placed on IR with a knee injury, for the final four games of the season in Indy; he hit five of his six field goal attempts with the Colts, and all 11 point-after tries, and in all in his first NFL season, McLaughlin hit 18-of-23 field goals (78.3 percent) and all 26 extra-point attempts, and was named to PFF's All-Rookie Team.
» Keep an eye on: Will Vinatieri attempt a return for a 25th NFL season in 2020? And, if so, would he jump into the Colts' kicking competition with Blankenship and McLaughlin? Vinatieri last year went on injured reserve on Dec. 9, and subsequently underwent surgery to his knee. The word throughout this offseason is that Vinatieri is still working his way through the recovery and rehab process from his procedure, and he's yet to decide whether or not he'll attempt to kick in the NFL in 2020; and while Vinatieri is currently a free agent, the Colts have remained in contact with him. Either way, Vinatieri's legacy as the greatest kicker in NFL history won't fade, as he sits atop the league record books in points scored (2,673) and made field goals (599), and, of course, he has those four Super Bowl rings, three of which he won with the New England Patriots — two thanks to his game-winning kicks — and one with the Colts.