How the Colts can replace retired S Khari Willis

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Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis announced some shocking news Wednesday when he officially decided to retire as he pursues a career in ministry.

The Colts are no strangers to early retirements and it would explain Willis’ excused absence during the spring workouts. But now, the Colts are without a starting strong safety going into the 2022 season.

There’s a chance they still add some depth in free agency, but there’s one player in mind that is likely going to see his development get fast-tracked now that Willis has retired.

Rookie third-round pick Nick Cross.

Though he doesn’t even turn 21 years old until September, the Colts are extremely high on the upside of the Maryland product. They traded a future third-round pick in order to select him in the 2022 NFL draft this April.

Cross is the ideal replacement for Willis. At 6’0″ and 212 pounds, Cross has the size to play near the line of scrimmage. But his elite athleticism offers more than just a box safety. Cross can also play a deep half safety role if the Colts need him to.

(Courtesy of Kent Lee Platte)

Cross still has plenty of development ahead and there are likely to be growing pains along the way. As stated earlier, he’s not even 21 years old yet. Growing pains through his development are only going to be natural.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Cross can develop into the starter, but we might be seeing more of him than we expected when he was first drafted.

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