As teams were forced to trim their rosters from 75 to 53 players yesterday afternoon, several notable names hit the waiver wire. These names spanned from future Hall of Famers like Champ Bailey to once highly regarded running backs like BenJarvus Green-Ellis. While most of these players either aren’t a fit or simply wouldn’t help the Colts much, there are a few players that are worth at least discussing:
Duke Ihenacho, Safety: At 25, Ihenacho is still pretty young for safety standards, and he started 14 games for the AFC Champion Denver Broncos last season. While he can play a bit reckless, he still showed very good playmaking abilities in the couple of games I saw him in. For a team at safety that doesn’t know if Delano Howell will return 100%, it may be prudent to pick up a young safety that played in 2013 both ahead and alongside projected Colts’ starting safety, Mike Adams, also formerly of the Broncos.
Ihenacho graded out as the 72nd best safety overall in 2013 by ProFootballFocus (PFF), using advanced statistics. While that is a fairly sub-par ranking, in this instance, I truly believe there’s more that meets the eye than the advanced stats demonstrate. He could possibly give the Colts a “playmaking” dynamic, that they otherwise do not currently have.
While the Colts aren’t necessarily hurting at safety with Landry and Adams as the projected starters, their current back-ups, both Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson, are best suited as special teams’ players. Ihenacho has the starting experience, as well as proven ability to be a starting caliber player for the defense in 2014 if called upon.
J’Marcus Webb, OT: At 26, Webb is best known for being yelled at by QB Jay Cutler during the 2012 regular season with the Chicago Bears. However, at 6’7″, 333 lbs, Webb has both the aforementioned size and starting experience, 44 career starts, to provide the Colts with proven depth at left tackle.
With official depth chart listed back-up left tackle, Joe Reitz, out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, the Colts lack considerable depth throughout their offensive line. Their lone back-up offensive tackle, Xavier Nixon, has appeared in just 4 NFL games (1 start).
In limited action, Webb graded out as the 37th best tackle in 2013, grading out ahead of the likes of Marcus Cannon, Jeff Linkenbach, and even Xavier Nixon, to place in proper perspective.
Michael Sam, DE/OLB: With Robert Mathis suspended the first 4 games of the regular season, the Colts will need pass rushers. A 7th round pick of the Rams in 2014, Michael Sam of course is known as the first openly gay player in NFL history. It shouldn’t matter whether a player is blue, green, red, or purple if they can play football and are a high character individual.
Sam actually played well in the preseason, recording 10 tackles and 3 sacks in 3 games. He faced a numbers game though, and with the St. Louis Rams employing a 4-3 defense, Sam was stuck behind quite a few quality defensive ends leading to his release.
At 261 lbs, Sam may be best suited as a 3-4 OLB pass rusher, but he lacks ideal athleticism and quickness. He graded out as the 44th best DE in preseason for the Rams, ahead of highly regarded teammate DL Chris Long, but then again, it’s just preseason. The Colts already have promising rookie OLB pass rusher Jonathan Newsome (5th round pick), as well as Cam Johnson on the outside, but Sam could add additional pass rushing prowess.