QB Manning, Sorgi, Betts, Trafalis
The competition here is for the No. 3; Betts has familiarity with the system on his side, while Trafalis has a bigger arm and more upside. It may all be for naught, though, as the Colts generally keep just two pivots and Sorgi is signed through 2010.
RB Addai, Keith, Hart, Lawton, Dawson, Simpson, Hairston
Keith and Hart will fight for the No. 2 spot, Keith’s faster and a better runner, Hart’s more complete and a better guy. Don’t be surprised if Keith is cut if Hart beats him for the spot outright. Lawton is fighting Santi for his spot, and will have his hands full. The fight for No. 3 back will go to the rest of the guys, each of whom is limited in his own way. Simpson, whose real value is as a return man, has a distinct edge.
WR Harrison, Wayne, Gonzalez, Aromashodu, Hall, Garcon, Roby, Shelton, Jones, Dillon, Burgess, Giguere
The top three are awesome, but confidence in Harrison’s ability to stay in one piece is eroding. Hall is actually competing more with guys like Tamme for reps in the slot than he is with the other WRs; his special-teams value alone could earn him a spot. Garcon’s likely to get a year to learn the ways of the NFL unless he falls flat on his face. Of the rest, Roby’s the most talented receiver, Aromashodu has the best tools and the other guys had better show something — returning kicks would be nice — in camp.
TE Clark, Fletcher, Tamme, Santi, Robinson, Herold
Fletcher, on a one-year deal, could be cut if the youngsters pan out. Tamme is a receiving talent who can’t really block — but neither can Clark or Fletcher, so it’s built into the system — and will be competing with Fletcher, Hall and other for playing time. You can throw Santi into that group too, but since he can actually block, he’s actually fighting Lawton for most of his reps. I wonder how Robinson and Herold felt watching the draft. I hope it pumped them up.
T Ugoh, Diem, Johnson, Federkeil, Toudouze, Hilliard, Marquez
With the new additions inside, I think Johnson goes back to swing tackle backup. He’ll fight off Federkeil, who the team seems to like a lot, and Toudouze and Hilliard, who they seem less excited about. Marquez appears headed for the practice squad and the weight room
G Lilja, Gandy, Pollak, Richard, Elgin, Esera
It’s a free-for-all at right guard, with Pollak the likely winner. If Gandy doesn’t win the job outright, there’s a strong chance he’ll be cut.
C Saturday, Justice, Ross
Saturday probably gets one last go ‘round before he tests the free agency waters. Justice is the favorite to slide into his old spot, but is by no means a lock. It could be Richard, Ross, Elgin or even Gandy or Pollak.
DE Freeney, Mathis, Thomas, Charleston, Howard, Johnson, Ishola, Milan
Other than Freeney and Mathis, none of these guys are safe, although Howard would likely get a year free even if he looked awful in camp. Keep an eye on the competition for jobs here, it will be intense.
DT Brock, Johnson, Pitcock, Dawson, Reid, Ferrell, Foster, Davis, Bradley
The top three are set, though the order could change. Dawson will have a fight on his hands to keep the others from taking his spot. Reid had better convince coaches he’s their best bet on special teams.
OLB Keiaho, Hagler, Session, Guzman, Nande, Senn
Neither starter is durable and Hagler’s a free agent after the season, but Session is probably ready for a starting spot anyway. Guzman’s specialty is pass-rushing and may be moved to DE. The battle between Nande, a better athlete, and Senn, a more productive player, will be fierce. Although his future is inside, Wheeler could figure here too if Guzman moves to DE and injuries mount.
ILB Brackett, Wheeler, Worsley, Adams, Shotwell
Brackett is a productive starter and team leader, but his salary is huge and he’s signed just through 2009. Wheeler was drafted to take over for him, but it almost certainly won’t be this year. The others are playing for reserve spots and should try to excel on specials. Who’s Adams? See below.
CB Jackson, Hayden, Jennings, Hughes, Rushing, Coe, Ratliff, Foster
While there are no All-Pros, there is an embarrassment of wealth when it comes to young, competent players. Hayden and Ratliff are free agents after the season. Hayden is likely to re-sign and Ratliff does not represent the future at the position. Hughes and Coe do. Rushing’s primary value is as a return man, but has proven to be a better DB than anticipated. There are lots of potential returners in camp and his spot is in no way safe. Foster is microscopic by NFL standards, but may be the fastest man in camp and has genuine DB skills.
S Sanders, Bethea, Giordano, Bullitt, Condren, Smith, Silva
Giordano’s on the Colts’ one-year-to-earn-a-contract plan too. He has the talent, but his payday may come elsewhere as the parsimonious Colts play caponomics. Bullitt stepped up last year, but has obvious deficiencies as an all-around player, while Condren is a tremendous athlete who should be better prepared for the NFL after what amounted to a redshirt season in 2007. Smith is smart and slow, while Silva is smarter and even slower.
K Vinatieri, Andrus
Same old story: Andrus has the huge leg, but isn’t consistent on placements. Vinatieri is starting to show his age, but is signed through 2010 and is still a premier kicker.
P Smith, Stanley
Smith is aging and Stanley has the stuff, but Smith is a team leader and an exceptional holder.
He’s not outstanding, but he does the job, is signed through 2012 to a reasonable contract and faces no real competition.
One more to add:
Anthony X. Adams LB Grand Valley State (6016, 234, e4.80): This small-school tackling machine lacks true athleticism, but it’s hard to argue with his production (like 20.5 tackles for a loss as a senior). He hasn’t been tested too much in pass coverage and would probably find it difficult to adjust to the pro game. But it’s hard not to like any linebacker who played a few downs at fullback — including catching a touchdown pass — in the Cactus Bowl.