Ranking The Colts 2018 Rookie Performances


Ranking The Colts 2018 Rookie Performances

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Ranking The Colts 2018 Rookie Performances

How did one of the best rookie classes in NFL history perform for Frank Reich and the Colts?

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – After one year, it’s a rookie class that ranks right up there in NFL history.

The Colts had 12 rookies play in a game this season, with several of them making very significant impacts.

Let’s rank the first-year players from a tremendous rookie class:

1. LB-Darius Leonard: The All-Pro linebacker had one of the most impactful rookie seasons the NFL has ever seen, especially for a non-first round pick. Leonard finished the year with an NFL-best 163 tackles, had 7.0 sacks, 4.0 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions, in starting 15 games. Not bad for a guy who missed the entire spring offseason program.

2. LG-Quenton Nelson: Oh yeah, the Colts had two All-Pro rookies in 2018. Nelson played every single offensive snap at left guard and lived up to the hype for taking a guard at No. 6 overall. This should be the first of many All-Pro nods for the Notre Dame guard.

3. RT-Braden Smith: At the start of August or even September, Smith finishing third on this list probably was not expected. But the Colts turned to Smith at right tackle in Week Five and he started every game out there the rest of the way. Smith was very steady on the edge, excelling as a run blocker and showing development in pass pro.

4. RB/WR-Nyheim Hines: Even though Hines was mysteriously used very little in the playoffs (especially against the Chiefs), he still was a key component to the offensive success in 2018. Hines had the second most carries on the team (85) and the third most catches (63). Frank Reich praised Hines big time late in the season for the job he did as a rookie.

5. RB-Jordan Wilkins: When Marlon Mack was injured with a hamstring issue early in the season, it was Wilkins actually starting. Wilkins finished the season with 5.6 yards per carry (60 carries for 336 yards). That was the highest yards per carry for a Colts running back (with at least 60 attempts) since 1958. Not too shabby for a 5th round pick.

6. DL-Tyquan Lewis: Injuries limited the versatile Ohio State lineman to only 8 games. Lewis did make 6 starts and had a pair of sacks. The Colts actually used Lewis more outside at defensive tackle, with the thinking that defensive tackle is probably his better fit going forward.

7. DE-Kemoko Turay: The second-round pick had a few early flashes (i.e. the Buffalo game) and finished the year with 4.0 sacks. But Turay’s inability to maintain weight, play on run downs and just a lack of consistent impact led to him barely playing down the stretch.

8. LB-Matthew Adams: Early in the year, it looked like Adams’ rookie campaign would be spent mostly on special teams. But he ended up starting 5 games in the final 9 contests of the season. Adams brought a physical presence when the Colts wanted to use a base personnel grouping.

9. S-George Odum: Like Skai Moore, George Odum made an early impression as an undrafted rookie. Odum actually made two starts and saw his playing time on defense rise a bit as the season went along.

10. LB-Zaire Franklin: The 7th round pick from Syracuse played in all 16 games for the Colts, primarily on special teams. Franklin did see extended defensive action against the Patriots and Giants, but he was mostly used on kick units.

11. WR-Reece Fountain: Of the healthy draft picks in 2018, Fountain easily had the least on-field impact. The Northern Iowa product finally got called up to the 53-man roster late in the season. Fountain barley played though, although his one notable moment was dropping a touchdown late in the Wild Card blowout to the Chiefs.

12. LB-Skai Moore: A rather decorated undrafted free agent, Moore actually started the season opener against the Bengals. But once Anthony Walker got healthy, Moore’s role really diminished, before he ended the season on injured reserve. Moore had just two tackles in 8 games, after that Week One start.

13. WR-Deon Cain: Unfortunately, a torn ACL ended Cain’s rookie season after one preseason game. The latest on Cain’s ACL rehab is here. The staff remains very high on the former Clemson wide receiver.

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