Indianapolis Colts rookie cornerback Julius Brents now appears primed to inherit the team’s No. 1 cornerback role. Fellow cover-man Isaiah Rodgers Sr. is being investigated for an alleged violation of the league’s gambling policy, according to multiple reports. Rodgers Sr. faces a lengthy suspension due to his severe error in judgment. Brents is the candidate that will step up to the plate as his replacement.
Rodgers Sr. was expected to experience a breakout campaign. Colts general manager Chris Ballard entered the offseason with massive needs at cornerback after trading veteran five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys earlier this summer. Gilmore played a team-leading 1,063 defensive snaps in 2022. Gilmore’s departure left behind a huge void, one the Colts anticipated would be filled by Rodgers Sr.
Gilmore wasn’t the lone offseason departure. Brandon Facyson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Facyson played nearly 500 coverage snaps for the Colts last season. Ballard responded by drafting three cornerbacks, but the initial plan was to bring them along slowly. Losing Rodgers Sr. delivers a massive blow to that plan.
There will be no acclimation period for Brents, who now becomes the Colts’ top-ranked cornerback. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will task Brents with overseeing his zone-heavy scheme. Without Rodgers Sr. on the boundary, the Colts don’t roster enough talented cornerbacks to sit their No. 44 overall selection on the bench.
Brents’ running mate at outside corner is now expected to be second-year undrafted free agent Dallis Flowers out of Grand View and Pittsburg State. Flowers played just 101 coverage snaps last season, and opposing quarterbacks enjoyed a passer rating of 124.8 when targeting him in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. Flowers is somehow the Colts’ most experienced boundary corner. Kenny Moore II, who represents the only sign of stability now, will continue overseeing the nickel position.
Another rookie may challenge for Flowers’ starting spot. The Colts also drafted former South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush in the fifth round. Rush, like Brents, was a standout performer at this year’s Senior Bowl. Rush could help Brents form the league’s lone first-year starting duo at cornerback.
Ballard also drafted former Texas A&M cornerback Jaylon Jones in the seventh round. Drafting three cornerbacks summarized Ballard’s dissatisfaction with the current state of the position. Things got so much worse with the news of Rodgers Sr.’s infraction.
It’s a lackluster situation for an underrated 2022 passing defense that allowed an 11th-ranked 209.9 passing yards per contest. That number will likely regress in 2023. The Colts’ rookies are going to take their bumps and bruises via baptism by fire.
Alternatively, Ballard could sign a veteran cornerback to protect his young secondary. There are plenty of options such as Marcus Peters and William Jackson III who remain available on the market. It wouldn’t be surprising if the rebuilding Colts view 2023 as a learning experience for their young players, however.
Rodgers Sr. will be missed in Indianapolis’ secondary. The Colts have no choice but to locate solutions in the face of unforeseen adversity. Brents is capable of handling a massive workload.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023