Evaluating 2018 Colts Rookies Class At Bye Week
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INDIANAPOLIS – One of the most important rookie classes in franchise history has performed quite well through the first half of their inaugural NFL season.
The Colts have received tons of contributions from their 2018 rookies.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2018 Colts’ rookies through the first half of the season:
-OG-Quenton Nelson (1st round): Only one player on the Colts has played every snap on offense or defense in 2018. That’s Quenton Nelson. With all the injuries for this team, Nelson has been as reliable as they come. Has it been Hall of Fame perfect for Nelson? No. But he’s been a huge, much-needed presence for a resurrected run game and the best offensive line protection Andrew Luck has ever had.
-LB-Darius Leonard (2nd round): Stud. Honestly, debating Darius Leonard for Defensive Rookie of the Year is a bit pointless. He should be garnering attention for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Leonard has 12 more tackles than anyone else in the NFL. He also is tied for the team-lead in sacks (4.0) ranks first in fumbles forced (3) and in recovered fumbles (2). Leonard has done all of this after missing the entire spring offseason program with a quad injury.
-OT-Braden Smith (2nd round): Through even the first quarter of 2018, Smith looked to be on his way to a redshirt season as a rookie. He played 10 total snaps in the first four games. But everything changed in a Week Five road trip to New England. Injuries and off-the-field events led to Smith entering the starting lineup. He’s played every snap since and has yet to allow a sack. The more weeks that go by, the Colts are seeing they might have found their long-term answer at right tackle, not right guard.
-DE-Kemoko Turay (2nd round): Already this team’s quickest pure edge rusher, Turay has 3.0 sacks in 8 games played. You see the burst that the Colts absolutely loved in their 52nd overall pick. Turay definitely needs to round out his game, particularly on run downs. Through the first half of 2018, Turay has shown that quick first step, which makes one think he could develop into a quality edge rusher.
-DT-Tyquan Lewis (2nd round): We could be getting our first game action look at Lewis here in a few weeks. Lewis has returned to practice, thus starting the 21-day clock on him returning to the field this season. The expectation is that Lewis will play in 2018, possibly starting with the Titans game on November 18th. Lewis left a nice impression on the Colts’ staff during the offseason so we will see if that carries over into an interior line presence in the second half of the season.
-RB-Nyehim Hines (4th round): Great bounce back for Hines from a preseason to forget. And credit to the Colts for still having plenty of confidence in their unique offensive weapon. Hines has 52 carries for 238 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and has added 34 catches (the second most on the team) for 187 yards. When Marlon Mack was out, the Colts were using Hines a ton. In Hines, the Colts have seen a similar/versatile player to what they envisioned when drafting him in the 4th round out of North Carolina State.
-WR-Reece Fountain (5th round): How strong is this draft class? You have to come all the way to Fountain, the 7th player selected by the Colts in 2018, before you have a concerning question. Even with all the receiver issues this season, the Colts have elected to keep Fountain on their practice squad. If this season turns down a wrong path, bringing up Fountain for some game experience would be a smart move.
-RB-Jordan Wilkins: (5th round): What a nice find this Ole Miss running back has been for the Colts. Wilkins started early in the season, saw his snap counts dwindle majorly, but he’s provided some nice production in recent weeks. Wilkins has 235 rushing yards on 52 carries (4.5 yards per carry) this season. If Wilkins is your ‘3rd running back’, that’s not a bad role at all for the 5th round pick.
-WR-Deon Cain (6th round): Given how the wideouts have played in 2018, the Colts would really love to have Cain on the field. ACL rehab for Cain should have him full go in plenty of time for Training Camp. This offense has missed quality, consistent wide receiver play in 2018, outside of T.Y. Hilton’s early-season production. Cain would have offered at least an intriguing option, providing a different skillset to the others inside that room right now.
-LB-Matthew Adams (7th round): This is a rookie who has had some recent flashes thanks to noticeable special teams play. Adams is known for his ‘run and hit’ style and that was first witnessed on special teams. After not playing a single defensive snap in the first quarter of the season, Adams has played 49 snaps in the last four weeks, mostly on run downs.
-LB-Zaire Franklin (7th round): Franklin was one of the rookies who rose on the depth chart during Training Camp and actually was a base defense starter in Week One. But with the Colts using mostly nickel looks in 2018, Franklin has played more than 13 snaps in only one game this season (he played 69 snaps in place of Darius Leonard in Week Five). Both Adams and Franklin have grown into a bigger defensive role than most was expecting coming into 2018.
Undrafted rookie S-George Odum has played in every game, but almost exclusively on special teams. Fellow undrafted free agent LB-Skai Moore played early in the season before moving over to the team’s practice squad.