INDIANAPOLIS – When looking at the Colts roster, it’s not hard to see the improved depth across both units.
There’s a better foundation of younger talent, especially defensively, as the Colts look ahead to future years.
What is missing though is enough star talent, particularly at the most impactful positions on the team.
After years of preaching the need to improve the depth on the roster, Chris Ballard changed that tune this offseason.
“Our goal this offseason is we needed to add more guys that we thought could be star players,” Ballard said.
Who are the potential ‘star players’ that the Colts added in 2020?
- DT-DeForest Buckner: This is easily the clearest ‘star’ potential guy acquired by the Colts in 2020. And that’s a must, considering what the Colts gave up for Buckner, and what they are now paying him. Buckner needs to become an annual All-Pro player (he was one in 2018) and be that disruptive presence in the interior of the Indy defensive line. At the age of 26, Buckner should still be in the midst of some of his best football, with that continuing through the remainder of his contract, which runs through the 2024 season. Buckner has put up some impressive numbers in his first four NFL seasons. Now, he’s got to maintain those, without a loaded defensive line group around him.
- WR-Michael Pittman: There are two rookies on this list, so we have a long way to go before crowing either of these guys. But when you take two skill guys in the first 45 picks, two with the collegiate resumes that these guys have, you can see why the Colts believe they can turn into stars. For Pittman, the Colts see No. 1 wideout ability in him at some point in his career. Pittman’s size is the most attractive attribute of his. The Colts have had a very impressive run of star wideouts (Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton). Will Pittman be the next?
- QB-Philip Rivers: In no way was Rivers close to playing at a ‘star’ level last season. But the Colts feel the 38-year-old still has that sort of ability. The Colts have said they see no physical decline in Rivers, and have called it a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to acquire such a quarterback. Last year’s numbers from Rivers say otherwise, however the Colts are adamant that their environment (and the team around the quarterback) will lead to more success for the 16-year vet. Again, labeling Rivers a ‘star’ right now is entirely premature. And he won’t be a long-term star for the Colts, but the staff thinks he can be at that level in 2020.
- RB-Jonathan Taylor: Like Pittman, we are a long ways away from calling Taylor a ‘star’ but when you take a running back No. 41 overall, you fully believe he can get to that level. Running backs can, and need, to get to that level when they are drafted as early as Taylor was this year. Behind the Colts offensive line, there’s obvious reasons why the Colts think Taylor can be a perennial 1,000-yard rusher. Obviously, Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard qualify as ‘stars’ and the Colts are hoping they have another couple of rookie deal guys who can reach that level before it’s time for their second contracts.