A big package from ESPN.com Insider tries to peer ahead to 2016, offering us NFL Future Power Rankings.
Herm Edwards, Mel Kiper, Mike Sando, Gary Horton, Matt Williamson and Field Yates ranked each team 1-10 in these categories:
The roster (minus the QB) as it projects in 2016, emphasizing players 27 and younger
The franchise quarterback as he projects in 2016
The strength of a team's 2013 draft picks and their available picks in future drafts
The reputation and performance of the front office
The stability and acumen of a team's coaching staff
A weighted formula computes the ultimate ranking.
A few notes from their review of the Colts, who lead the tied for No. 8:
The Colts scored a 6.2 in the roster category. Horton says the defense can build around inside linebacker Pat Angerer. But I can see a scenario where Angerer isn’t a starter at the beginning of this season, given the competition from Kelvin Sheppard and Kavell Conner.
Indy scored a 7.0 in coaching. Said Edwards: “What more needs to be said about Pagano? He was an inspiring story last year and did so much more than help lead a football team. The key for him this year will be building off that. After such an emotionally draining season, can he keep his team's energy up? Chuck is a great motivator, so it won't surprise me if the young Colts keep improving. It doesn't hurt that Luck is running the offense either.”
Andrew Luck got the Colts an 8.8 at quarterback, the second-best score to Green Bay: Says Sando: “The Colts have only six players age 30 or older on their roster, but (Reggie) Wayne is one of them. Quarterbacks make receivers however, and Luck is going to be just fine. His efficiency should climb now that the Colts have reunited him with his college coordinator, Pep Hamilton.”
I thought I'd have an easier time arguing that the Colts should be higher, but the rationale for the seven teams ahead of them is solid.
I do think the panel overrates the St. Louis Rams, the team tied with Indianapolis. The Colts scored a 6.7 in the draft category while the Rams got a 7.5.
Sure, the Rams still have some benefits to come from the deal that sent the pick used on Robert Griffin III to Washington in 2011. But with the risks Jeff Fisher is willing to take with some of those picks, the hit rate is likely to be lower than might be expected.