Hello, Colts fans. It’s draft night!! Welcome to another edition of the draft diary. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s how it works: I keep a running diary of each pick of the first round through the Colts’ selection. Once I’ve let the Colts’ pick sink in, I’ll add a bit more to my initial reaction. In the past I’ve waited until the draft was over and added my thoughts on the team’s entire class, but this year several of our fine stable of writers are going to be providing their own analysis, so I will defer to them. The whole point of this article is to watch the draft and have fun doing it. You’re not going to read stuff like “John Doe is dropping in the draft after teams became concerned when he could only do 3 thumb push-ups with his left hand at his pro day” or something, not because they aren’t important, but because I don’t really want to write about them.
There will be two things you can bet will happen tonight: 1) Someone will make a weird reach for a player and people are going to go “Wait, what?” 2) At least one highly touted prospect will fall and get picked later than expected.
We’re in the City of Brotherly Love for this draft, and I love it. Philadelphia is unique. There’s a vibe about it that makes it different from most large cities, and I’m not saying this in a negative way. Philadelphia has a great spirit about it. If you’ve been there, you understand.
Now, the list: Plenty of food and cold beverages nearby (check), laptop charged and fired up (check), catheter inserted (just kidding), and TV working fine (the TV part may seem obvious, but I’m about to have the “I’m just not that into you” talk with Spectrum cable. Nothing but issues since they’ve taken over in this area).
All listed times are Central time.
6:35: Wait, what’s this? It’s Apollo Creed. Carl Weathers is in the house, and he’s standing on the steps Rocky made famous. I love Carl. No actor has made a better career out of getting killed in movies than Carl Weathers.
6:55: Sal Paolantonio is reporting the Jets have received multiple calls about the 6th pick. He says they’ve listened to the offers, but like both Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker. They also haven’t ruled out taking a QB. In other words, the Jets have no idea what they’re doing.
6:57: Trey Wingo is leading our coverage tonight and he mentions speaking to Arizona’s Bruce Arians. Arians may have inadvertently tipped his team’s hand, as he mentions interest in QB Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech.
7:02: Mel Kiper, Jr. is on the set as well, and I’ve never seen him so fired up before. You know you’re off the rails when Jon Gruden tells you to calm down.
7:10: BOOOOOOO. Roger Goodell is greeted warmly by the fans as he steps out to announce the first pick. The Browns have indicated DE Myles Garrett will be the pick, but some still speculate it will be QB Mitch Trubisky instead. Kiper is slandering the QB’s in the draft. He’s on a roll. Gruden says Jamal Adams is the best player in the draft, then tells Mel, “don’t be so mad.” I can’t stop laughing.
Garrett is indeed the pick, and it’s a good one. Gruden references our own Robert Mathis as a comp. A tremendous shout out to an all-time Colt.
7:15: Pick 2, and we have a trade. The 49ers have dealt this pick to the Bears in exchange for Chicago’s first pick (#3) of this draft, their third and fourth round picks of this draft, AND a third round pick in 2018. Holy hell. ESPN’s talking heads are speculating this move is being made in order for Chicago to secure DE Solomon Thomas from Stanford.
7:19: Everyone’s still trying to digest this trade, and ESPN throws it over to Myles Garrett’s interview. He’s asked which AFC North QB he’d like to sack first, and he doesn’t hesitate before saying Ben Roethlisberger. I’d laugh, but the Browns play the Colts in week 3, so…
7:21: The Bears are making their pick, and it’s…Mitch Trubisky. What? They traded FOUR picks for a guy with 13 collegiate starts? I don’t even know what to say. Wow. I said we’d have a “wait, what?” moment. I didn’t expect it to happen immediately.
7:27: Trubisky mentions in his interview that the Bears never even contacted him. Oh my. Did I mention the Bears spent millions on free agent QB Mike Glennon in the off season?
7:29: The 49ers waste little time and select Solomon Thomas. Let’s give a shout out to Henry Anderson and David Parry for teaching the kid everything he knows.
7:35: RB Leonard Fournette of LSU goes to the Glitter Kittens. I like this pick, but until they get a better line and a better QB, I’m not sure it matters.
7:42: We have our first “the pick is in” flashing on the video board with no action from Goodell, which means we’re forced to listen to the talking heads for several more minutes.
The Titans select Corey Davis, a big, physical WR from Western Michigan. I don’t think it’s a secret the Titans needed a weapon for Marcus Mariota. My question is, are they ever going to get around to keeping him from getting hurt? In my experience, most QB’s don’t throw well when they’re standing on the sidelines in a cast.
7:47: I just realized ESPN’s coverage tonight has overall been pretty good and I know why: Chris Berman is nowhere to be found. Thank you, football gods.
7:51: The Jets select S Jamal Adams from LSU. He’s a terrific player and it’s a shame his career will be ruined by playing for the Jets.
7:59: The Chargers take WR Mike Williams from Clemson. I don’t know much about him, but I do know there have been like 17 guys named Mike Williams who’ve played WR and none amounted to much. There’s a first time for everything, though.
8:03: With the 8th pick, Carolina chooses RB Christian McCaffrey from Stanford. I like the pick, but ESPN is showing Kiper from 2016 dissing the Ezekiel Elliott pick by the Cowboys, and I like this even more. The look on his face as they roll the tape is priceless.
8:12: The Bengals take WR John Ross from Washington. He’s fast and has had problems with injuries. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to sprint back to the huddle after Andy Dalton overthrows him.
8:19: We have another trade. The Chiefs have traded their first and third round picks this year plus their first from 2018 to Buffalo. What??? They don’t need much help on defense, and this is a deep draft on that side of the ball. A QB perhaps?
It is. The Chiefs have moved up to take Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. Alex Smith is officially on notice. I don’t know much about Mahomes other than some regard him as the best QB in the draft, and some don’t. I remember his dad as a substandard pitcher who amazingly managed to carve out an 11 year career in MLB, though.
We’re through 10 picks now, and 7 have been on offense. I did not expect this, but it bodes well for our Colts. Fingers crossed for Derek Barnett.
8:29: The Saints take CB Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State. This is a need pick, as the Saints have actually managed to be worse than the Colts on defense. Lattimore has had repeated problems with hamstring injuries, and Kiper calls him “a one year wonder.” Ouch.
8:36: The Browns are up again, but there’s another trade. The Texans have traded their first rounder from this year as well as 2018’s first rounder for this pick. I didn’t see this coming.
Houston picks QB Deshaun Watson from Clemson. Somewhere Bruce Arians is cursing, because now the top three QB’s in the draft are all gone. I like Watson. He’s an electric talent, but he makes some risky throws. In order for him to reach his potential, he’ll have to have that coached out of him. Only time will tell. What I like most about this right now is when the Texans finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs this season, in 2018 they won’t have a first round pick.
And they didn’t pick Derek Barnett.
8:46: Arizona recovers from the shock of having another QB stolen from underneath them by taking Temple LB Haason Reddick. Paul Palmer is the only other player from Temple I can remember going in the first round, and I mainly remember him because he used to do the “Nestea plunge” as his TD dance. This was back when the NFL didn’t hate player celebrations. Anyway, Reddick is a great story. He was a walk on at Temple and turned himself into a terrific player. I would not have objected at all to the Colts drafting him.
8:48: The Eagles were just announced on the clock, and the place has exploded. What a terrific atmosphere tonight.
8:52: The pick is in and it’s Derek Barnett. Remember all of the good things I’ve said about Philadelphia? Well, I take them all back. Jerks.
All night I’ve been following the social media buzz about the Colts and I’ve seen many happy that so many offensive players have been drafted. What we didn’t think about, though, is that the Eagles were a team actually looking for help on that side of the ball – receiver – and when the top choices were gone, they went with the best available. I’m disappointed right now. Barnett looks like the kind of game changer the Colts have sorely needed.
9:00: *drum roll* Chris Ballard’s first pick is…S Malik Hooker from Ohio State. I wasn’t expecting this at all, not with all of these pass rushers and corners still out there. I’m not against this pick so much as I am just completely surprised. The first reaction on ESPN’s draft panel is Gruden saying “this is a need pick.”
I see the highlights. An athlete. A “ball hawk.” This is good. But now they’re highlighting his deficiencies as a tackler and, well, it looks like an issue. Don’t they already have a safety who can’t tackle?
I need to sleep on this.
The morning after…
As I did with Phillip Dorsett and Ryan Kelly before him, I’ve been thinking about Malik Hooker a lot today. In 2015, I badly wanted the Colts to draft Landon Collins. Everyone says this now; I said it then. They went with Dorsett, of course, and after thinking it over, I talked myself into it. It hasn’t worked out. I didn’t really have a particular player preference last year, but felt it was critical to address the pass rush and the offensive line. They chose Kelly, who turned out to be a very solid pick. My initial reaction to Hooker is similar to that of Kelly: I might’ve gone in a different direction, but you won’t have to twist my arm much to get me to like this.
When I hear Ohio State fans talk about how great Hooker is, I completely tune out. When I hear his position coach talk and make comparisons to Ed Reed, I listen but take it with a grain of salt. A position coach isn’t going to say “Why’d you take him? He sucks” you know? When a Super Bowl winning head coach who coached Ed Reed in the NFL for 6-7 years says Malik Hooker reminds him of Reed, I’m all ears. He’s got the same type of big play ability; the same natural instincts for playing the pass. Some have called him the steal of the first round.
I urge patience with Malik Hooker. Expect some struggles. He’s inexperienced, having only played in 19 collegiate games. Tackling is a concern. He’s also nursing an injury that will keep him off the field until training camp. The injury shouldn’t be a concern long-term, but it is worth noting now.
Welcome to Indianapolis, Malik. Go to it, kid.
Stay tuned for more draft coverage from Colts Authority.