TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: Michael Brockers #90 and Sam Montgomery #99 of the LSU Tigers react after the Alabama Crimson Tide missed their field goal in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Not all pre-draft visits are an indication of interest. Some are smoke screens. Some are just to get a better idea of a guy that, maybe, fours years from now, might be a target free agent.
Brockers is a monster defensive tackle (6'6, 306 lbs), and for a Colts defense transitioning from a 4-3 Tampa-2 defense to a base 3-4 blitz happy one, a dominant nose tackle is critical for success. New Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is a defensive-minded coach, and I do not see him waiting for this defense to get good two or three years from now.
Also, let's just be realistic, folks. Robert Mathis (age 31) was not re-signed just so this defense can be good in 2014. They want to be good now, and there is no reason to think they can't be. In the modern NFL, "rebuilding" over a period of years is just an excuse for front office incompetence. Teams should get good overnight. That is the expectation because we've seen far too many examples of it happening.
Thus, showing interest in Brockers tells me that the Colts are, at the very least, entertaining the notion of trading back into the first round to get him if he falls past a certain point.
Here's Dan Kadar on Brockers:
In the 2012 NFL Draft, few players carry as much potential and upside as Brockers, a redshirt sophomore. On a loaded LSU defensive line, Brockers routinely stood out and should transition well to the NFL. At 6-foot-6, Brockers has an impressive frame with a lot of room to grow. Because of his relative inexperience (one season as a full-time starter), he'll need to get drafted on a team that can rotate him in while he develops.
Wes Bunting of NFP:
He might be a little raw and could have used some more work at the college level. However, he's an NFL talent with "plus" upside but can also come in and play vs. the run at a high level right away. Should get looks at both the three and five-technique spots and in my mind has the ability to become one of the better defensive lineman in the NFL down the line.
If Brockers falls past pick 20, the Colts would likely have to give up their second and third round picks this year plus some sort of draft compensation next year (fourth round or later, most likely) to move back into the first round. The most logical trading partners are Cincinnati and Detroit. Both are looking for more picks to fill holes in their roster, and both a set at the DT position. If Brockers falls to the Steelers at pick No. 24, they will draft him and laugh all the way back to another Super Bowl. Nose tackle is a position of needs in Pittsburgh, what with Casey Hampton getting old.
For those of you thinking that giving up picks in this years draft to move back into the first is too much, it is important to stress yet again that it is pointless to even field the defense without a legit nose tackle. Brandon McKinney is not a starter, and Antonio Johnson wasn't even all that effective playing NT in a Tampa-2 last year, let alone in a 3-4. The Colts have no one who is capable of holding down that position. Taking Brockers is absolutely worth it. He's talented, and he fits a need.
Personally, I doubt we'll see the Colts make this kind of move, but who knows. This is a new regime, with a new attitude towards the draft.