Since drafting Andrew Luck in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts have emerged as one of the NFL's elite teams and perennial playoff contenders.
They have the fourth-best record in the league over the last three seasons, and each year they've advanced one step closer to the big game: they lost the Wild Card game in 2012, then fell in the Divisional round in 2013 and last year were eliminated in the AFC Championship. Is this the year the Colts finally make a deep postseason run and reach their first Super Bowl since 2009?
Indianapolis enters the 2015 campaign with perhaps its deepest and most talented roster in years, and expectations in the Hoosier State are as high as they've been since Peyton Manning headed west. They spent the offseason adding pieces they think will be enough for them to compete for the AFC title. In fact, following the suspension of Tom Brady, Bovada now has the Colts as the favorite to win the conference at 15/4 odds.
The biggest additions were to an already-potent offense that ranked third in total yards, first in passing and sixth in points last season. To go along with established players such as T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, they added veteran Frank Gore -- who is probably the best running back in Andrew Luck's career -- and receivers Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, who was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. There is a good chance that the Colts will have the best offense in the entire NFL next season, and they could rewrite the record books if everyone stays healthy.
The team also beefed up its defense with the signing of linebacker Trent Cole and defensive lineman Kendall Langford, who are both likely to start next season. In the draft, they picked up two solid players -- cornerback D'Joun Smith and defensive tackle Henry Anderson -- who have a chance to make an impact this season.
Here's a look at some of the Colts' key position battles this summer:
This might be the deepest position group on any team this season and perhaps the best collection of receivers we've seen in a while. T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Griff Whalen and Duron Carter are part of what should be an intense competition at wideout.
Hilton -- the team's leading receiver last year with 82 catches for 1,345 yards -- and Johnson will likely start from Day 1 and see the majority of the snaps. Dorsett and Moncrief probably will form the second unit, but Carter and Whalen could easily push them for playing time.
An established veteran known for his powerful running style, Frank Gore is almost certainly going to be the No. 1 back in Indianapolis. Gore has run for over 1,000 yards in eight of his 10 NFL seasons, and last year ranked in the top 10 in both rushes and rushing yards.
However, he just turned 32 years old and the Colts will almost certainly need a solid backup to share the load with Gore. Daniel Herron is likely the favorite for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart after an impressive second-half performance last year following Ahmad Bradshaw's injury. There will probably be one more running back on the final roster, making for a nice battle in training camp between Vick Ballard, Zurlon Tipton and rookie Josh Robinson.
Perhaps the most gaping hole on the Colts' roster heading into the offseason was at the safety position, which seriously lacked depth beyond starter Mike Adams. They went out and signed Dwight Lowery from Atlanta, who started 15 games for the Falcons last year, and also drafted Clayton Geathers in the fourth round.
Although he struggled in coverage at times, Lowery did receive a positive overall grade (1.1) from Pro Football Focus last year, and should start the season next to Adams in the secondary. But Geathers is an intriguing prospect who the Colts see as the team's long-term solution at the position and he could easily get significant snaps as the season goes along.