Given the previous defensive frailties displayed by the Colts, it will have been relief that when they came on the clock at 15th overall last night the best player available was a ball-hawking safety who has drawn lofty comparisons with Ed Reed.
I’ll be writing in a few days about how all the Colts draft picks fit into the schemes we play, but the draft waits for no man and with the 2nd and 3rd rounds just hours away, let’s look at who else is on the board and some position groups that the Colts may target with their day 2 picks, the 46th and 80th overall.
Malik Hooker was the genuine best player available at 15, but the top need for the Colts remains a pass rusher who can help to replace the production lost by the retirement of Robert Mathis. Fortunately, there are still some players who were expected to go in the first round left on the board.
Not strictly an edge player, McDowell would be a fit as a DE in the Colts 3-4 scheme, and possesses the ability to affect the backfield from the interior, with 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 23 starts. Rotoworld’s Josh Norris has McDowell rated as his 8th player overall. It is his inconsistency and questions over his commitment have left him on the board, but he shouldn’t get out of the 2nd.
An injury riddled college career means Lawson’s 1st round talent has not been realised, but if he can get, and stay, healthy then he could provide the boost to the Colts pass rush that is so desperately needed. Interestingly, the CBS comparison for him is someone named Dwight Freeney.
Willis has a forty, 3-cone and vertical/broad jumps suggest a speed rusher, but Willis struggles to convert that speed to power. He projects more as a 4-3 end than a 3-4 OLB, and we’ve been here before with Bjorn Werner. But if the Colts think they can polish him, the raw tools are there.
Bowser has exceptional physical measurables that have pushed him from a borderline top 100 pick to someone projected to land in the late first. He may not even make it to the Colts pick because of the upside, but he will warrant serious consideration if he’s on the board. There are safer picks, but the Colts may feel they need to swing for the fences to solve their pass rush problems. Bowser is a force player, per Justis Mosqueda. For those of you who don’t follow Justis, being a force player is a very good thing.
The Colts scheme has previously covered the lack of pass rush by asking their corners to play man-to-man coverage and then using a variety of blitzes to get to the QB. If the Colts don’t feel good about any of the pass rushers on the board they might lean towards taking a corner who can give the rush time to get there.
Moreau has been a four year starter at UCLA, though his 2015 season was just 3 games long due to a Lisfranc injury. He also tore his pectoral at his pro day, so there is some injury history to consider but his 4.35 speed and strong tape will make him a consideration with the Colts in the 2nd round to play across from Vontae Davis on day one.
A strong, physical corner who would fit well with the Colts man coverage scheme. He is liable to give away pass interference calls and isn’t the quickest corner in the draft, but has the size (6’1”) and length (32 ¼” arms) that teams are looking for. Might not be there in the 3rd, but 46th overall might be a reach.
Like Tankersley, Wilson is a physical corner who lacks the speed to be consistently matched up 1v1 with top WRs, but if the Colts are looking for someone to line up in press and play physical coverage from day one, then Wilson would be a good pick in the 2nd. Has the potential to develop his game further.
A serious achilles injury at his Pro Day means that any team taking Jones will basically be accepting he won’t play in his rookie year. But before the injury, he was regarded as one of the top corners in the class alongside Marshon Lattimore and Marlon Humphrey, who both went in the top half of the 1st round. If the Colts are willing to take the risk, they could get a top end starter in the 3rd round.
The Colts passed on Reuben Foster and Jarrad Davis to take Hooker. I suspect we’ll see Geathers play more nickel LB, and alongside the signing of Sean Spence, the need is not as great at this position as it was a few weeks ago, but the Colts may still look to invest a pick there if the right player is available.
A Butkus award finalist, Cunningham was mocked in the late 1st consistently so I wouldn’t expect him to last long into the 2nd round, but the Colts may be in prime position to grab a player who plays fast and led the SEC in tackles in 2016. Would plug a huge hole in the middle of the defense.
A physical run stuffer, McMillan’s lack of speed and coverage ability might limit him to a 2-down role in the NFL, but if the Colts are looking to improve their run stopping ability (and they should be) then investing in McMillan would be a solid way to do that. He will be there in the 2nd, and the concerns about his passing game chops might see him slide into the 3rd. He’d be a good value at that spot.
Frank Gore isn’t going to play forever and the Colts don’t have a clear successor in place. The position group is very deep, so if the Colts don’t take either of the two players below I suspect they’ll wait until the 3rd day to take a back.
The off-the-field concerns are clear with Mixon. But Chris Ballard has said that he isn’t off the Colts board and few can argue that on the field he’s a hugely talented running back. He is a first round pick talentwise, and perhaps the most talented back in the class. I suspect he won’t make it to the Colts pick, but if he does it will be tough to pass him up.
Cook’s tape doesn’t match up with his combine numbers, where he scored historically poorly for someone projected to go in the 1st round. If the Colts believe in the talent, then taking him at #46 could pay off big-time, if he indeed makes it that far.
Last but not least
Honourable mention to Forrest Lamp, whose confusing slide out of the 1st means the best guard in the draft is still available. The Colts seem happier to develop what they have got on the line, but the value might be too good to turn down if he makes it 46th. I don’t think he will, but then I thought Malik Hooker wouldn’t get past the top 6.