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NFL.com lists CB as Colts ‘biggest remaining offseason priority’

Kevin Patra of NFL.com recently picked the ‘biggest remaining offseason priority’ for each AFC team. For the Colts, not surprisingly, he chose adding to the cornerback position as their biggest need.

Here was Patra’s reasoning behind that selection:

“The Colts’ defensive front seven is deep and potentially dynamic. The back end, however, harbors questions as it leans on youth. Second-year pro JuJu Brents and undrafted third-year corner Dallis Flowers are in line to start on the outside alongside slot maven Kenny Moore II. Tack on Nick Cross, potentially taking on a bigger role in safety, and there could be growing pains in the secondary. Adding a veteran corner to help shepherd the group would make sense. Might Indy consider bringing Stephon Gilmore back to help stabilize a young corner crew in a hotly contested division?”

Coming into the offseason, along with adding to the defensive end and receiver positions, finding additional secondary help was thought to be a priority high up on the to-do list for GM Chris Ballard.

This was a unit last year that was inexperience, and the inconsistent play often reflected that. In the midst of the ups and downs, the Colts ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in explosive pass plays surrendered, and in the bottom third in yards per pass attempt allowed, as well as in pass breakups.

“Like I said, sometimes the inconsistency,” said Bradley on the root of the issues last season. There was three or four games where we look back and say it just wasn’t us, and what was the culprit of it, explosive passes and things like that, whether it was a bust coverage here and there. But I think in those times, we’ve just got to make sure the young guys play at their highest level.”

Re-signing Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon certainly helped provide stability to the cornerback and safety rooms, but plenty of unknowns remain. The only other additions Ballard made to these units came in the fifth and sixth rounds of the draft when he selected Jaylin Simpson and Micah Abraham.

As defensive coordinator Gus Bradley pointed out after the draft, outside of Moore in the slot and Blackmon as the strong safety, the two starting boundary positions and the free safety role will be ‘wide open,’ this summer.

Competing for the boundary openings will be JuJu Brents, Dallis Flowers, Jaylon Jones, Darrell Baker, and Simpson. Competing for the starting safety spot next to Blackmon will be Rodney Thomas, Nick Cross, and Daniel Scott.

The lack of additions made to either position this offseason tells us that internally, the Colts feel a bit bullish about the players they already have on the roster. Prior to the draft, Ballard mentioned that he expects improved play this season, with the experience that this group gained in 2023, along with the return of Flowers from injury being the catalysts behind that.

Whether or not the Colts will make an outside addition at this point, like Patra suggests, they have the cap flexibility to do so, with over $26 million in cap space. On top of that, there are several quality options at both the cornerback and safety positions still available in free agency.

The big plays like interceptions, of course, will matter this summer, but ultimately, these starting spots are going to be determined by which players show the most consistency day in and day out.

“It’s really wide open,” said Bradley of the cornerback position. “Now we got Dallo (Dallis Flowers) coming back, and JuJu (Brents) and JJ (Jaylon Jones), so I really like that part of it. I think for us, it’s the skill set, the length, the speed, now it’s just the consistency.

“Who’s going to step up and be that guy that takes the next step as a corner. Kenny we feel real good about and what he brings and trust Kenny and his consistency. But with those other guys it’s play in and play out, who can play at the standard we’re looking for.”

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire