2019 Colts Review: Pro Football Focus Evaluations

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL season is nearing its end as Super Bowl LIV will entertain the masses on Sunday in Miami.

The Indianapolis Colts' 2019 campaign ended before they had hoped, but there is plenty of positives to take away from their season when you peel back the layer.

For example, their young nucleus continued to grow and develop as they had two players earn All-Pro selections and four players head to Orlando for the Pro Bowl.

Pro Football Focus' grading system turned up several players who had standout seasons for the Colts. Let's take a look at those evaluations:

CAREER YEARS

There are 16 players currently on the Colts' roster who had the best season of their individual careers in 2019, according to PFF. With how many of these players make up the Colts' young core, that shows major signs of bright days ahead for this team:

  • Edge defender Kemoko Turay (91.3)
  • Guard Quenton Nelson (91.2)
  • Running back Jonathan Williams (87.3)
  • Offensive tackle Braden Smith (79.8)
  • Running back Nyheim Hines (special teams) (77.0)
  • Cornerback Kenny Moore II (75.6)
  • Wide receiver Zach Pascal (73.7) (special teams: 68.5)
  • Center Ryan Kelly (73.0)
  • Offensive lineman Joe Haeg (71.9)
  • Defensive tackle Denico Autry (71.2)
  • Tight end Eric Ebron (71.1)
  • Running back Jordan Wilkins (69.8)
  • Safety George Odum (67.3)
  • Edge defender Al-Quadin Muhammad (66.2)
  • Defensive tackle Grover Stewart (65.8)
  • Linebacker Matthew Adams (special teams) (61.7)

TOP PERFORMERS

The following Colts players all graded among the top 15 at their position group in 2019.

  • Guard Quenton Nelson (G2, 91.2)
  • Edge defender Justin Houston (ED11, 87.0)
  • Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (OT5, 81.3)
  • Offensive tackle Braden Smith (OT7, 79.8)
  • Linebacker Darius Leonard (LB7, 78.8)
  • Linebacker Bobby Okereke (LB8, 77.3)
  • Kick returner Nyheim Hines (KR4, 77.0)
  • Punter Rigoberto Sanchez (P5, 73.4)
  • Center Ryan Kelly (C6, 73.0)
  • Kicker Chase McLaughlin (K10, 68.2)

TOP ROOKIE PERFORMERS

The following Colts rookie players all graded among the top 15 at their position group in 2019.

  • Linebacker Bobby Okereke (LB1, 77.3) (T-ST14, 73.3)

"Okereke was one of the best athletes at the position coming out of college last year, and it translated swiftly in coverage for the Colts. On 34 targets this season, he allowed 12 first downs and registered 10 stops. Apparently, the Colts know what they're doing when it comes to drafting linebackers." - PFF (read more here)

  • Safety Khari Willis (S4, 69.5)
  • Kicker Chase McLaughlin (K1, 68.2)
  • Cornerback Marvell Tell III (CB4, 67.6)
  • Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (CB6, 65.3)

RANKINGS

"Continuity on an offensive line is always a good thing. That's exactly what the Colts got in 2019 with all five starters playing over 1,000 snaps on the season. A group that was much maligned when Andrew Luck was having frequent dates with the turf has quickly become one of the top groups in the NFL, led by Quenton Nelson. The Notre Dame product was the highest-graded left guard as a rookie last season when you include the postseason, and he's back on top in Year 2. He's been especially dominant in the run game — Nelson's two-year run-blocking grade leads all guards."

  • Linebacker Bobby Okereke finished the regular season ranked as PFF's No. 8 overall rookie player:

"Linebacker Bobby Okereke is the first Colt to land on this list. Okereke's coverage skills have been everything Indianapolis had hoped for — he allowed less than 20 yards in coverage in 12 of his 16 game appearances and earned a coverage grade of 79.2 that ranked 10th among all players at his position."

  • Safety Khari Willis was ranked as the No. 26 rookie:

"Indianapolis took a versatile player 109th overall in Khari Willis. He played 620 snaps in total this season and played more than 75 snaps on the defensive line, in the box, in the slot and at free safety. Willis was especially effective against the run, where he accumulated the second-most run stops (14) among first-year safeties while finishing third among the same group in run-stop percentage."

  • Cornerback Marvell Tell III was ranked as the No. 31 rookie:

"There has to be a lot of optimism in Indy surrounding the play of their fifth-round cornerback, Marvell Tell III. While he gave up six plays of 20-plus yards — with two of those plays resulting in a touchdown — he still managed to make plays on the ball, with five forced incompletions on the year. Tell also didn't miss a single tackle all season long."

  • Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was ranked as the No. 46 rookie:

"The Colts likely hoped for a bigger return on investment from the 34th overall pick, but considering Rock Ya-Sin stepped into a starting role pretty much instantly, it certainly could have been much worse. At the outside corner spot, Ya-Sin earned the fourth-best coverage grade among rookies and produced the third-most defensive stops in the NFL (14)."

AWARDS SEASON

"By the end of his rookie season, Quenton Nelson was already playing like the best guard in football, and this year he backed that up with an entire season of stellar play. Nelson didn't give up a sack all season despite blocking for a quarterback with a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and invite more pressure than he should. His run blocking was also as dominant as you would expect, and the Colts should expect a series of All-Pro spots over the coming years."

"Okereke hasn't seen quite as much playing time as some other rookie linebackers, but when he has been on the field, no player from the class has a higher PFF grade. Okereke has been strongest in the most important area for a modern-day NFL linebacker: coverage. His 79.2 coverage grade ranks 10th among all off-ball linebackers, and though he doesn't have any official interceptions to this point, he is due for one. Okereke has dropped two interceptions and had a pick-two on a two-point conversion that won't show up on the stat sheet."

"Looking at the season from start to finish, Ya-Sin hasn't had a smooth ride to a spot on the All-Rookie Team. A 55.0 coverage grade through the first nine weeks of the season set him back, but we saw improvement from the Temple product as the campaign wore on. From Week 10 through the end of the season, Ya-Sin picked up a 76.1 coverage grade while allowing just a 67.7 passer rating into his coverage. That's the kind of performance the Colts expected when drafting him in the second round, and it's what they'll look for next season."

"He was beginning to really flash as a situational pass rusher this season — such as on this play, where he throws Cam Erving into Patrick Mahomes — before an early injury derailed his sophomore campaign. Across the first five weeks of the season, Turay's 91.0 pass-rushing grade ranked second among all qualifying edge defenders, and his 22.9% pressure rate ranked second to only Nick Bosa. With Jabaal Sheard potentially leaving in free agency, there could be a golden opportunity for Turay to continue that progression across from Justin Houston."

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