Mailbag: Will Anthony Walker Lose His Starting Linebacker Job In 2019?
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INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of 1070TheFan.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our mailbag.
Here is the collection of Monday questions:
Kasey (Columbus, IN)
Given the offseason additions to the roster, is it reasonable to think the Colts could have a Top 10 Defense and a Top 5 Offense?
Bowen: The Steelers were the only team in the NFL last year to achieve a top-5 offense ranking AND have a top-10 defensive team as well. So, it’s not easy to achieve such rankings (and also surprising the Steelers didn’t make the playoffs with such balance). I would say it’s definitely possible that the Colts can reach these marks, but I’m not ready to say it’s likely. Now, the Colts were 7th in offense and 11th in defense last year. So they were already knocking on the door before we saw some off-season additions on each side of the ball. But I think it’s just a tad lofty for me to say they will reach those rankings this fall. Can the defense produce again at that level, with a far better slate of quarterbacks awaiting in 2019? I do think this offense can be a top-5 unit. But I just want to see the defense repeat it on a consistent basis, against better talent. And, in case you missed it, the Colts are quite bullish on their 2019 offense.
Juan (Bogota, Colombia)
Hey Kevin, long time without sending questions. First I believe it’s a given that some recent drafted players will be cut. Which players do you think won’t make the roster because of the increased competition? Second I see lots of WR which is something we really needed. Who do you think will end up earning a starting spot? Finally even with the free agent and draft additions I see the Colts above Tennessee and Jacksonville, because we are a more balanced team and have the only elite QB, do you agree? Thanks as always and keep up the awesome job you do. Say hi to Joey from me, maybe one day he’ll read on of my questions. Lol
Bowen: Hey, Juan! Thanks for sending in another question. 1. This has been a popular question in recent weeks. If you haven’t already, check out this article for a look at some highly competitive positions that could see some past contributors cut later this year. Guys like Reece Fountain, Zaire Franklin, Jalen Collins and Nate Hairston could really, really use strong offseasons to stay on the roster. 2. My starters at wideout are pretty set: T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell. Maybe in 2-WR sets, you use Funchess more early on, but I could definitely see times when you would want to get Campbell on the field. Maybe Deon Cain challenges this trio? But I like the Hilton/Funchess/Campbell look. 3. I do think the Colts should be viewed at as the AFC South favorite in 2019. I would then rank Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville, in that order, behind Indianapolis. I do really like what the Titans have done this offseason.
Kevin! I'm still recovering from my annual Treat Yo Self marathon of gluttony and sin. Draft weekend is truly a time to test the limits of the human body XD Unfortunately, now we enter the second lull of the offseason. I'm going to challenge you to give us your under-the-radar storyline(s) of the offseason. The following is a list of topics you CANNOT choose from: 1) Andrew Luck with a full, healthy offseason 2) Anthony Castonzo's 2020 status 3) Clayton Geathers' health/future 4) Parris Campbell/Ben Banogu's usage as rookies 5) Tight End free agency in 2020 6) Development of Kemoko Turay/Tyquan Lewis 7) Who emerges as WR2... Happy hunting! :D
Bowen: Stan, welcome back again. The draft weekend does, and should, get the best of us. You are making me really think for this one. These might be too regular season focused, but they are debates that are already starting to build steam. Let’s go with these: 1. Is Spencer Ware the backup running back? 2. Devin Funchess building rapport with Andrew Luck and earning a 2nd contract in Indy. 3. Ryan Kelly staying healthy. 4. How the defensive tackle positions are handled with the possibility of another free agent addition? 5. Does Anthony Walker get pushed for playing time by rookie Bobby Okereke? 6. Is the future here in Indy for Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston or Jalen Collins? 7. Is there a surprise veteran cut?
Leonardo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Hi, Kevin. Long time without a question, but I'm back. I've seen the draft and as usual, Mr. Ballard selected some guys I would never think about. He has proven right so far, and I trust him. So I would like to propose a way too early 53-man roster prediction: QB(2): Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett RB(3): Jordan Wilkins, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines WR(6): Chester Rogers, Deon Cain, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal TE(3): Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox OL(10): Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith, Evan Boehm, Jackson Barton, Javon Patterson, Joe Haeg, Le'Raven Clark, Mark Glowinski, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly DE(5): Al-Quadin Muhammad, Gerri Green, Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay DT(4): Denico Autry, Grover Stewart, Jihad Ward, Tyquan Lewis LB(6): Anthony Walker, Ben Banogu, Bobby Okereke, Darius Leonard, EJ Speed, Skai Moore CB(6): Kenny Moore II, Marvell Tell III, Nate Hairston, Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, Rock Ya-Sin S(5): Clayton Geathers, George Odum, Khari Willis, Malik Hooker, Matthias Farley ST(3): Adam Vinatieri, Rigoberto Sanchez, Luke Rhodes NOTABLE CUTS: Jalen Collins, Margus Hunt, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, J'Marcus Webb, Jonathan Williams, Ross Travis, Daurice Fountain I'm confortable with just 3 RB because Campbell talent with the ball in hands. I have only 4 DT and cut Hunt Because I can see Sheard sliding inside if needed, and I wanted to keep 10 OL. It hurts me cut Collins and Fountain, I really lik'em, but it happens. Also, I know that the Colts usually keep an undrafted FA every year, and probably some guys in here will be cut. I wanted to hear your thoughts on this. Regards.
Bowen: Oh wow, Leonardo. You are already going there! Haha, I love it. Last week, I posted the current 90-man roster and then a look at a possible depth chart. I will probably do a 53-man projection after minicamp next month, but I’m always up for taking a gander at one now. Some things that stand out to me: 1. No Spencer Ware at running back? 2. It’s tough for me to cut Ross Travis if he can prove he’s healthy. 3. I would probably try and squeeze one of those rookie OL guys onto the practice squad instead. 4. With how thin you are at DT, I can’t cut Hunt. 5. You probably have one extra body in the secondary. Maybe Hairston? Well, it’s clear just analyzing your 53 cut, this is going to be a very difficult year to trim. You are going to have a bunch of variations among the back end group.
C.W. (Greenfield, IN)
Might be ridiculous because he has been solid, but with this years draft class in mind is it possible that Anthony Walker could be a surprise trade candidate at some point? Or maybe just lose his starting job? I couldn’t see him being cut, but with all of the influx of speed and athleticism at LB his has me wondering if this could be the surprise move that happens that no one is talking about right now. Thanks Kevin!
Bowen: First, I would be stunned if Anthony Walker got cut. This is a guy who was your starting MIKE linebacker last season, and played 479 more snaps than the next linebacker in playing time (Matthew Adams). The cerebral nature of Walker cannot be overlooked. Expecting a rookie to achieve all those duties is an immense task, especially for a defense that is looking to evolve a bit more schematically. Is Walker’s athleticism a strength compared to the likes of Darius Leonard or Bobby Okereke? No. But he still should be on this roster and I think he should begin the 2019 season as a starter. Now, maybe Okereke grasps the playbook quickly, shows that he can play on early downs and challenges for that starting position. But I still like Walker in that role come Week One. Cutting Walker would be a major head scratcher, given how cheap he is, as well.