INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts had two rookies -- defensive linemen Henry Anderson and David Parry -- start every game they played last season. Parry finished 31 tackles and a sack. Anderson also had 31 tackles and a sack before a knee injury in Week 9 ended his season.
The Colts will need more members of last season’s rookie class to contribute next season. It'll be even more important because the Colts aren't expected to be big spenders on the free-agent market next month. They have about $21.6 million in salary-cap space.
There’s a possibility that Anderson and Parry could be joined in the starting lineup by more of their fellow rookies next season.
Potential starters next season
S Clayton Geathers (fourth round): Last season’s starter, Dwight Lowery, is a free agent and the Colts like Geathers. They consistently found a way to get him on the field, using him at times as a hybrid linebacker. He’s the ideal complement to Mike Adams because Geathers likes being physical down in the box, while Adams is good dropping back in pass coverage.
Expected to be a key contributor
WR Phillip Dorsett (first round): It’s way too early to label Dorsett a disappointment. He wasn’t capable of showing his true talent, which is speed, last season due to an ankle injury that sidelined him for five games. The No. 3 receiver spot behind T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief is wide open. A healthy Andrew Luck at quarterback should allow Dorsett to show off his speed more.
Could be a contributor
OL Denzelle Good (seventh round): Good went from being on the practice squad most of the season to starting three games at right tackle after Joe Reitz was forced to slide to left tackle following Anthony Castonzo's knee injury. Goode likely won’t start next season barring a significant improvement during the offseason, but he showed enough that he could be in the offensive line rotation.
CB D’Joun Smith (third round): The cornerback spot opposite of Pro Bowler Vontae Davis will likely be open because Greg Toler is a free agent and it’ll be surprising if the Colts re-sign him considering his history of injury problems and inconsistent play last season. You would think Darius Butler would slide into the starting spot, but he’s more comfortable as the nickel cornerback. Injuries kept Smith from doing much as a rookie. He only appeared in four games last season.
The verdict is still out
RB Josh Robinson (sixth round): The former Mississippi State running back carries himself with a lot of confidence. But that confidence only goes so far because you have to be able to produce at some point, too. That’s not what Robinson did during his rookie season despite the backup running back spot being open. He had 17 carries for 39 yards in five games before being demoted to the practice squad. The Colts are still looking for a backup behind starter Frank Gore. It's up to Robinson to take advantage of it.
LB Amarlo Herrera (sixth round): He played a total of 69 snaps while shuffling between the active roster and practice squad.