Johnathan Hankins hasn’t spent much time with his new teammates after signing with the Colts in mid-April, but he’s already supremely confident about the ceiling of Indianapolis’ defense.

The defensive tackle said Monday on NFL Network that he believes the Colts already have the best defense in the conference.

“Right now I feel like we got probably the best defense in the AFC,” Hankins said, according to Kevin Patra of “On paper, it looks good, but we’ve got to go out there and prove it. We’ve got a great quarterback here, as ya’ll know, Andrew Luck, and some great weapons on offense. So, if we can just come together during OTAs, and once training camp starts, get a good feel of everybody and just trust each other, I feel like we’ll be real dominant out there.”

New general manager Chris Ballard has aggressively reworked the Colts’ 30th-ranked defense from 2016, not only signing Hankins in free agency but also linebackers Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Sean Spence, among others. Indy also used its first three draft picks on defense, highlighted by first-round safety Malik Hooker.

“Chris (Ballard) did a tremendous job bringing a lot of guys in here, even going into the draft he brought even more defensive guys in here – and of course we got a couple (Ohio State) Buckeyes on defense, so that’s just going to help us and improve us out there,” Hankins said. “I just love the new atmosphere we got going on in here about winning, and ready to take the next step with a new team.”

While the Colts should be improved in 2017, they may not even own the best defense within the AFC South. The Houston Texans finished first in the league in yards allowed per game, the Jacksonville Jaguars came in at sixth, and the Tennessee Titans ended the year in 20th – and all should be as good or better this upcoming campaign.

However, after two seasons without a playoff appearance, the Colts will likely welcome Hankins’ conviction.

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