The Colts are going to have to rely on many young players and newcomers as their rebuild continues this season. Some of the rookies in Chris Ballard’s 2018 class have already earned solid reviews:
OG Quenton Nelson
The sixth overall pick has looked as good as advertised thus far, and it's hard not to be enamored with his physicality. There's a reason why some claimed him to be a future ten-year All-Pro during the scouting process. While there will be a learning curve for any rookie, Nelson should be able to be an effective starter from Day 1 - just take a look at his raw power and polish:
WR Deon Cain
The Colts have had many Camp standouts at wide receiver who haven't panned out for them - Roy Hall, Duron Carter, even Andre Johnson looked like a beast a few years ago - so maybe take Cain's flashes with a grain of salt. The former five-star recruit has obvious playmaking ability, but can he be consistent? He should be in the mix for one of the wide receiver spots behind TY Hilton. WR2 might be asking too much, but that depth chart is pretty wide open.
OG Braden Smith
He's certainly not on Nelson's level, but the Colts are giving their "other" young guard plenty of reps early in Camp. Part of that is injury-related, as the team has even tried Smith out at right tackle given the rash of injuries on the bookends of the line. Smith will likely start the year as Matt Slauson's backup, but hopefully he'll push him for playing time.
OLB Darius Leonard
He was the last of the Colts' eleven draft selections to sign and the player we knew the least about. An FCS standout at South Carolina State, Leonard was hampered by a quad injury the entire offseason that impacted OTAs and possibly his Combine performance. Now gealthy, Leonard is showing why the Colts felt like the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year was worth taking early in the second round. Indy desperately needs him to have a good August and grab that weakside starting spot.