Colts Defensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into 2019 Offseason Program
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INDIANAPOLIS – We are less than a week away from the Colts reporting back to work.
The start of the offseason program takes place Monday, April 15, with players beginning the start of eight weeks in Indianapolis.
So, it’s time to pick back up our ‘burning questions’ series on 1070TheFan.com
Here are our burning questions along the defensive line heading into the 2019 offseason program:
1. What is the ideal role for Justin Houston in Indianapolis?
Part of the Colts’ pitch to Justin Houston was a favorable situation when it comes to the 30-year-rusher still showing he can produce at a high level.
That means more pass rushing snaps for Houston and less responsibility in coverage.
It also means a bit less playing time (not by much), with the hope that his snaps in passing situations will have Houston fresher and able to play an entire season.
Houston starting is the expectation, but the Colts will monitor him throughout a game and make sure their best rusher is on the field for snaps where he can be his most disruptive self.
I don’t really think Houston switching to a 4-3 is that big of deal, because the Colts know how to use him at his best and will cater to him as a ‘pass rusher’ first.
With this signing, the Colts do have a unique defensive front piece that will offer Matt Eberflus more ingredients to work with as they want to lean on their defensive line depth.
The hope is around 7-8 guys are playing up front, with no one playing more than 60-65 percent of the snaps.
2. What is in store for the second years of Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis?
Injuries limited Tyquan Lewis to just 8 games as a rookie.
Fellow rookie Kemoko Turay played in 14 games, but his playing time was scaled back majorly down the stretch, especially when Lewis was healthy and playing.
Development is still needed with two importance pieces to the Colts’ future foundation along their defensive line.
For Turay, that means gaining (and maintaining) weight to play on three downs. There were flashes from Turay in his rookie season, but he definitely hit a wall in the second half of the year, playing at around 235 pounds. If Jabaal Sheard and Justin Houston are starting, Turay needs to secure that 3rd end spot, and show that he deserves some third-down snaps.
In Lewis, the Colts have a guy they want to play more on the interior in 2019, after he was needed out on the edge in his rookie season. Would the Colts feel comfortable starting Lewis and Denico Autry at their defensive tackle spots? Or is that a combo you would feel better about using more so on passing downs? No matter that call, Lewis should be knocking on the door of the starting lineup at defensive tackle.
3. How much draft stock is needed for the defensive line?
The Colts have some pretty nice looking defensive line depth heading into 2019.
But the top-end of that depth has guys hovering around the age of 30: Jabaal Sheard (29), Margus Hunt (31), Denico Autry (28) and Justin Houston (30). None of those guys have contracts currently past the 2020 season.
So, this defensive line group 2-to-3 years down the road could/will look much different.
That’s why the 2019 Draft cannot be ignored when it comes to the long-term view of the defense, especially with the heavy D-line depth this year.
Another defensive tackle and an edge presence would be wise to find before Saturday of the Draft arrives.
If you couple two defensive linemen in the first three rounds this year, to go with the second rounders Turay and Lewis from last year, that is a very nice quartet of young guys when the passing of the torch occurs in the next few years.