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PFF Ranks the Colts Defensive Line as the League’s 11th Best Unit Ahead of 2022 Season

To make the next leap, the Colts defensive line’s collective success could come down to some of its youngest players.

By Luke Schultheis 

 

According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts narrowly missed out on a Top 10 ranked defensive line unit—as the Horseshoe came in at the 11th spot overall ahead of the 2022 season:

Tier 2: Strong with a weak point or two

11. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Indianapolis is going to rely on its front four to generate pressure in Gus Bradley’s new scheme, as no defense blitzed less than Bradley’s Chargers when he was defensive coordinator from 2017 to 2020 (16%), and the same was true for the Las Vegas Raiders under Bradley last season (11%).

The Colts have the players up front to get pressure with four rushers, especially after Yannick Ngakoue’s reunion with Bradley in Indianapolis. DeForest Buckner ranks fourth among interior defensive linemen in combined sacks and quarterback hits (45) since joining the Colts in 2020, and 2021 first-round pick Kwity Paye is looking for a breakout second season as the favorite for the LEO role in Bradley’s defense.

Now, first thing’s first, Ngakoue is penciled in as the favorite for the pass rushing ‘LEO’ role in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s Colts defense. That being said, Paye’s versatility and solid run defense should provide him some reps at that spot situationally regardless.

Ngakoue was the big addition to the Colts defensive line unit this offseason (although don’t rule out Dayo Odeyingbo showing a lot more during his sophomore campaign—more fully removed from a season-ending torn Achilles he suffered in early 2021 during NFL Combine prep, as his rookie season this past year was a redshirt season of sorts for Indianapolis).

With great familiarity with Bradley already from their time together with both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, Ngakoue should provide a consistent impact edge rusher to further complement NFL All-Pro DeForest Buckner’s interior presence. He had double-digit sacks last season for the Raiders (10.0) and 62 total QB pressures.

Like Odeyingbo, Colts’ 2021 first round pick Kwity Paye could also be poised for a breakout season with Indianapolis in his second year—as he began to show flashes of his pass rushing potential down the stretch in his rookie season, in addition to his run defense.

Meanwhile, his pass rushing prowess already mentioned, Buckner remains one of the best defensive tackles in all of football (and is arguably the second best player at his position right now in the league behind the out-of-this-world Aaron Donald). He remains the cornerstone and anchor of the Colts defensive line, but should hopefully see less double teams with Ngakoue’s arrival and the potential emergence of Paye and Odeyingo (if nothing else, those pass rushers should see more favorable one-on-one matchups with Buckner commanding extra attention in the trenches).

Last, but certainly not least, is Colts’ starting nose tackle Grover Stewart, who remains a force against the opposing running game while showing some pass rushing chops inside every now and then.

One could make the case that one to five (also including Odeyingbo), this is the most talented Colts defensive line we’ve seen in a while (maybe dating back to 2006, when the Super Bowl winning defense had Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Booger McFarland).

There’s also some intriguing backups such as the re-signed Tyquan Lewis, as well as rookies Eric Johnson and Curtis Brooks to add potential depth during 2022.

While this ranking seems relatively fair, the Colts definitely have an opportunity to improve upon it as the season progresses—as this unit has a chance to become at least Top 5-7 defensively in the trenches.

Buckner, Ngakoue, and Stewart seem like relative locks to consistently produce at a high level again, so it may come down to whether Paye and Odeyingbo can breakout on a weekly basis in determining whether the Colts can ascend into a truly elite defensive line in 2022

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I’m surprised.  A few “ifs” but I can see it being that high.  Stars at DT and Leo, up and comer at the other end.  Solid DT along side DeFo. 
 

I really like the draft picks and the others they brought in.  

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5 hours ago, Bolt Colt said:

PFF Ranks the Colts Defensive Line as the League’s 11th Best Unit Ahead of 2022 Season

To make the next leap, the Colts defensive line’s collective success could come down to some of its youngest players.

By Luke Schultheis 

 

According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts narrowly missed out on a Top 10 ranked defensive line unit—as the Horseshoe came in at the 11th spot overall ahead of the 2022 season:

Tier 2: Strong with a weak point or two

11. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Indianapolis is going to rely on its front four to generate pressure in Gus Bradley’s new scheme, as no defense blitzed less than Bradley’s Chargers when he was defensive coordinator from 2017 to 2020 (16%), and the same was true for the Las Vegas Raiders under Bradley last season (11%).

The Colts have the players up front to get pressure with four rushers, especially after Yannick Ngakoue’s reunion with Bradley in Indianapolis. DeForest Buckner ranks fourth among interior defensive linemen in combined sacks and quarterback hits (45) since joining the Colts in 2020, and 2021 first-round pick Kwity Paye is looking for a breakout second season as the favorite for the LEO role in Bradley’s defense.

Now, first thing’s first, Ngakoue is penciled in as the favorite for the pass rushing ‘LEO’ role in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s Colts defense. That being said, Paye’s versatility and solid run defense should provide him some reps at that spot situationally regardless.

Ngakoue was the big addition to the Colts defensive line unit this offseason (although don’t rule out Dayo Odeyingbo showing a lot more during his sophomore campaign—more fully removed from a season-ending torn Achilles he suffered in early 2021 during NFL Combine prep, as his rookie season this past year was a redshirt season of sorts for Indianapolis).

With great familiarity with Bradley already from their time together with both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, Ngakoue should provide a consistent impact edge rusher to further complement NFL All-Pro DeForest Buckner’s interior presence. He had double-digit sacks last season for the Raiders (10.0) and 62 total QB pressures.

Like Odeyingbo, Colts’ 2021 first round pick Kwity Paye could also be poised for a breakout season with Indianapolis in his second year—as he began to show flashes of his pass rushing potential down the stretch in his rookie season, in addition to his run defense.

Meanwhile, his pass rushing prowess already mentioned, Buckner remains one of the best defensive tackles in all of football (and is arguably the second best player at his position right now in the league behind the out-of-this-world Aaron Donald). He remains the cornerstone and anchor of the Colts defensive line, but should hopefully see less double teams with Ngakoue’s arrival and the potential emergence of Paye and Odeyingo (if nothing else, those pass rushers should see more favorable one-on-one matchups with Buckner commanding extra attention in the trenches).

Last, but certainly not least, is Colts’ starting nose tackle Grover Stewart, who remains a force against the opposing running game while showing some pass rushing chops inside every now and then.

One could make the case that one to five (also including Odeyingbo), this is the most talented Colts defensive line we’ve seen in a while (maybe dating back to 2006, when the Super Bowl winning defense had Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Booger McFarland).

There’s also some intriguing backups such as the re-signed Tyquan Lewis, as well as rookies Eric Johnson and Curtis Brooks to add potential depth during 2022.

While this ranking seems relatively fair, the Colts definitely have an opportunity to improve upon it as the season progresses—as this unit has a chance to become at least Top 5-7 defensively in the trenches.

Buckner, Ngakoue, and Stewart seem like relative locks to consistently produce at a high level again, so it may come down to whether Paye and Odeyingbo can breakout on a weekly basis in determining whether the Colts can ascend into a truly elite defensive line in 2022

Thank you again for these ranks. I had our D-Line as a middle-of-the-pack unit, so this is a solid rank for me. If our lines are this good, then we should be in good shape this year.

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This is the slowest part of the "news cycle" for the NFL - summer break - so all the pundits are earning their $$$ by offering opinions on the coming season.  Happens every year - and - boy howdy - they can be REEEEALLLY WRRROOONNNGGG on a bunch of things.

 

Can hardly wait until training camp when there is actual news to report.

 

Enjoy your off-season season Colts fans!!

 

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This was a very fair analysis.  I dont know where the Colts stack up against other teams but there is a great mix of proven talent and prospects in the top 6 of the rotation.  
 

Buckner will be really good and command double teams. 
Stewart will be above average at stopping the run. 
Paye should be better and give solid play. Opposing OLs will account for him. 

I see Yannick as a pass rush specialist that we had hoped Turay would be.  I think he will put up some numbers.  It does concern me he has been on 4 teams, not ranked by many media outlets and not given an extension yet.  Still, he has produced at or near an elite level since he came into the league. 

 

Tyquan Lewis is a bit of an X factor. If he recovers from his injury he is a capable starter that has potential to be a major asset.  Will he recover or will this be a red shirt year?  Could be a combination of both and we may see his impact late into the season and the playoffs. 
 

Dayo...Ive gotten some backlash bc Im not a fan.  Definitely a wait and see approach is needed.  I see his likely ceiling as a great backup. Others see him as a potential break out star. He will have every opportunity this year to carve out a spot for himself.  

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