PFF picks Indianapolis Colts’ 2024 breakout player

Pro Football Focus recently picked their breakout player in 2024 for each NFL team. For the Indianapolis Colts, they selected second-year cornerback JuJu Brents.

Here is what PFF had to say about Brents and why they picked him:

“There was considerable thought that Indy would add a corner early in the draft, but general manager Chris Ballard didn’t go that route until the fifth round. As a result, it’s fair to assume that the Colts have lofty goals for Brents in his second season. The former Kansas State Wildcat was up and down throughout his rookie campaign, but he should get more consistent with regular playing time.”

Injuries were an unfortunate part of Brents’ rookie season with the Colts. In-season, he was limited to nine games and eight starts. In those games, Brents allowed a completion rate of 66.7 percent at 14.2 yards per catch with an interception and five pass breakups.

As expected for a rookie who also missed time, there were ups and downs for Brents, but his upside flashed as well. He was particularly good in press-man coverage, along with his length and physicality routinely showing up on the football field.

A key aspect in Brents making a Year 2 jump will be having a healthy offseason, where he can go through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp.

It wasn’t only during the season that Brents missed time in 2023, but as a rookie, he wasn’t on the field for OTAs or minicamp and missed part of training camp as well.

As defensive coordinator Gus Bradley mentioned recently, that missed time put Brents in a difficult spot, and to a degree, this offseason, they are starting over with what they are teaching him.

“That part is challenging,” said Bradley of Brents’ missed time. “There’s still a little bit where we’re looking at him, and you can see that he’s had some experienced play, and now when you’re going through this phase of it, you’re looking back at it, and you’re saying, ‘boy, let’s start over with him here, and let’s get him back to the fundamentals and the basics.’

“It’s not so much the technique at the line of scrimmage, it’s more what are the formations, the motions, the jets, the things like that, that I think for JuJu, that’s going to be the learning curve. He missed a lot of that, even in walkthroughs and training camp.”

Bradley also added that outside of Kenny Moore in the slot, the two starting boundary cornerback spots are ‘wide open.’ Competing for that playing time will be Brents, Dallis Flowers, and Jaylon Jones. Ultimately, it will be consistency that determines who those starters are.

Behind what should be a very disruptive front seven, the Colts have some major question marks in the secondary. This was a unit that gave up too many big plays while not making enough plays on the football.

As GM Chris Ballard mentioned, a catalyst behind what hopefully is improved play in 2024 will be the experience that this relatively young unit gained last season, along with the return of Flowers. A breakout year for Brents would be a huge development for this Colts’ defense.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire