INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard is flipping the script on building more offensive line depth in 2021.
One year after not having any offensive line reserves who had played offensive snaps in the prior season, Ballard has already taken steps into adding some guys with recent experience.
From Sam Tevi (44 career starts) earlier this week, Julie’n Davenport (28 career starts), returnee Joey Hunt (11 career starts) and now Chris Reed (23 career starts) he Colts are at least bringing in more known commodities to build that offensive line depth, which is an area Ballard felt like he didn’t adequately address last year.
Assuming the Colts starting offensive line in 2021 continues to be the four returnees from last year—Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glonwinski, Braden Smith and a drafted offensive tackle—the Colts’ depth has many more bodies who have played meaningful snaps in the NFL, including last season.
Besides newcomers in Tevi and Davenport, the Colts have Danny Pinter in the interior and Will Holden at tackle as two returners who each started a game for Indianapolis last season. Hunt filled in at left guard last December when Nelson was moved over to left tackle in a pinch, so his return adds another body in the interior. Reed, who started 14 games at left guard last year for Carolina, falls more in the Hunt mold as a possible interior depth piece. If the Colts decide to move Nelson out to left tackle, that’s where the likes of Pinter, Hunt, Reed could all actually factor into a starting job at left guard.
Davenport played just 55 offensive snaps for Miami last year, but started 27 games in his first three seasons in the NFL.
The Texans drafted Davenport (6-7, 325 pounds) out of Bucknell in Round 4 of the 2017 Draft. Davenport was part of the Texans package to the Dolphins in 2019 for Laremy Tunsil.
Deeper analytics into Davenport’s game show a struggling tackle who lost his starting job in 2020.
The Colts are hoping they can develop more of the athletic testing traits that the 26-year-old Davenport showed prior the ’17 Draft.
When it comes to the offensive line outlook this fall, penciling in Tevi and/or Davenport as a Day 1 starter would be a mistake.
But, unlike last year, the Colts have taken steps to trying to build more competition behind a starting group that will again have plenty of pressure on it to be one of the NFL’s best.