Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts were relevant again last season as Andrew Luck returned to form, and despite a scant national presence they are a formidable Super Bowl contender now.

The big picture: Though Indy didn’t do much in terms of volume free-agency acquisitions, the Colts did get better on both sides of the ball.

Who the Colts added: One key signing should significantly upgrade the Colts’ defense, and an underrated offensive playmaker could break out in 2019.

  • Justin Houston is the big piece the Colts have been missing on defense. His ability to consistently bring pressure to opposing quarterbacks will make everyone else on Indy’s defense better.
  • Retaining cornerback Pierre Desir was a savvy move that should help the Colts retain continuity this coming season.
  • Wide receiver Devin Funchess could be a huge factor. He signed a one-year deal and has a lot to prove. He also is a big body in the red zone (21 touchdowns in four seasons) and should thrive playing with Luck.

Who the Colts lost: The Colts only let one player walk in free agency.

  • Wide receiver Ryan Grant signed a one-year deal with Oakland worth $1 million. The addition of Funchess will more than make up for that.

Looking at the draft: Indianapolis has nine draft picks to work with, including two in the top 34 picks, and four in the top 90. General manager Chris Ballard landed a sweet haul last year and is potentially one of the most dangerous executives in the league.

  • Bolstering the defensive line and adding another impact pass rusher should be a huge priority.
  • Adding at least one or two more defensive backs is likely another huge key for Ballard and Co.
  • Finding value in the late rounds, we expect Ballard to land another running back who can pitch in immediately. This year’s class has no generational talent, yet it is loaded with depth.

The Frank Reich factor: In his rookie season at the helm for the Colts, Reich showed prowess in his offensive approach.

  • Colts ranked 7th in total offense.
  • Colts ranked 6th in passing offense.
  • Colts ranked 20th in run offense.
  • Colts ranked 5th in scoring offense.

Reich also was clearly a motivating factor, and he connected well with Indianapolis’ locker room overall.

Given the amount of talent that is coming back for a second year under Reich’s command, we expect the Colts to be even better in 2019.

The bottom line: The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are getting all the attention nationally. Yet the Colts might just have the best overall group of players in the AFC. Don’t be surprised if Indy ends up taking that proverbial next step and wins it all this coming season.

Jesse Reed
Managing Editor at Sportsnaut. Featured on Yardbarker and MSN.com, and formerly was a breaking news writer/NFL analyst for Bleacher Report.