Yannick Ngakoue trade to Colts bolsters DEEP defensive line – QB and receivers search continues

Ballard’s deal for Yannick Ngakoue gave the Colts an edge over their AFC South rivals.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard’s thirst for defensive linemen seems unquenchable.

While the Colts are without a starting quarterback and tight end, and have one reliable starting receiver, Ballard dealt plodding cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders for pro bowl edge rusher Yannick Ngokoue.  The deal offloads a second round mistake while adding a sack generator in his prime.

I love the trade.

Ngakoue had 10 sacks last year as a LEO for Gus Bradley’s defense in Vegas, and when he was hired as defensive coordinator by the Colts, he clearly saw Ya-Sin as a liability and Ngakoue as a missing piece.  Two problems solved in one trade is a good day’s work for Ballard.

But how many defensive linemen is enough?  As of today, the Colts have Ngakoue, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Kwity Paye, Dayo Odeyingo, Tyquan Lewis, and Ben Banogu – all of whom were either drafted in the first two rounds or are paid more than $10 million per year.

There are other teams who spend more on their defensive line, but they usually pay a ton of money to two elite players.  The Colts are determined to have eight quality players they can rotate at four spots.  That would be an excellent strategy if it didn’t come at the expense of other positions – like wide receiver, a position of extreme need in the pass happy NFL of the 2020s.

During an era of receivers dominating play for winning teams, the Colts are currently paying under $10 million for all of their wideouts – not each, but the entire position group!  The defensive line is currently projected to cost $48.5 million while the o-line is slightly less pricey at just under $45 million.

The top four paid players on the Colts roster – and six of the top seven – are linemen.  That is going to change with the acquisition of a quarterback and maybe a receiver, but it is still strikingly unique.

When Ballard came to Indy just over five years ago, he said his philosophy is to build from the inside out, and he continues to shout it from the rooftop of Lucas Oil Stadium to anyone with a microphone.  One thing that must be said about Ballard is that he is a man of his word.

There is no question the Ngakoue for Ya-Sin deal leaned heavily in the Colts favor, and will help the Colts generate needed pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  If before the trade was announced, you asked 100 Colts fans if they would trade Ya-Sin straight up for Ngakoue, 67 would have laughed, 30 would have panted enthusiastically, and three would have chased you down the block for exposing them to such an unimaginable notion.  Twelve would be able to correctly spell Ngakoue.

The rest of the offseason will provide venues for Ballard to attack his seemingly unending quarterback challenge and dearth of professional level receivers, so casting negative judgment on his hyper focus on line play is premature.  Ballard deserves a chance to slog through the rest of the free agency period and use the draft to plug the significant holes that remain.

Yesterday, the Colts got better and they are going to be more able to compete because of a potentially elite edge rusher in the wonderfully flawed AFC South – where anything can happen.

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