Ah yes, It's that time of year again. It's time to begin the talk of mock drafting! Also, you'll see below the draft a few suggested changes for the current team that might be fun for discussion. To the draft!
I started by identifying the Colts' current needs. I have them in this order:
- ILB--our current ILB play is terrible both in stopping the run and in covering crossing patterns
- OLB--I'm not entirely sure we have any OLBs on the roster. I haven't seen any during the games, at least.
ROUND 2: DENZEL PERRYMAN, ILB/OLB, MIAMI, 6'0", 240lbs
"But jbacon, you said ILB was only our 4th most pressing need!!!!" True, but there aren't any players worth taking at the end of the 2nd round that fill either of the three prior needs OR who will have as much of an impact. An alternate selection would be Bryan Stork, C, Florida State, but I think Perryman will have a bigger overall impact. He's been stout in run defense and pass coverage, and has the speed and strength to be an effective blitzing LB. Pat Angerer sucks, Kavell Conner has mysteriously not been on the field, and Freeman is having a roller coaster season.
ROUND 3: KELVIN BENJAMIN, WR, FLORIDA STATE, 6'5", 234lbs
This guy is the definition of upside. He has mid 4.5 speed and has been a huge playmaker for the Seminoles. He's pretty raw, though, because he hasn't seen many targets and he's played on a high powered offense. Alternatively, the Colts might want to consider Cody Hoffman, an equally sized receiver from BYU who runs solid routes and has tremendous hands, but lacks speed--his major question mark is whether he'll even be able to get separation from NFL defensive backs. If Hoffman falls to the fifth round, the Colts should pull the trigger.
ROUND 5: SPENCER LONG, G, NEBRASKA, 6'4", 315lbs
Spencer Long has first-round talent, but has fallen because of a major knee injury that kept him out for significant time. He's an injury risk, but he could turn out to be a major steal. Alternatively, if we take Bryan Stork in the second round, the Colts could take Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn if he falls. Dee Ford also has injury problems, but was the spearhead of the Auburn pass rush.
ROUND 6: ZACH FULTON, G, TENNESSEE, 6'5", 323lbs
Zach Fulton is a better run blocker than pass blocker, but I've read that scouts see him as a project with lots of upside. He's also improved week-to-week, so he appears to have a lot of upside.
ROUND 7: RON POWELL, OLB, FLORIDA, 6'4", 248lbs
Ron Powell has been decent, but battled some minor injuries. He probably won't fall this far, but if he does the Cotls should pull the trigger.
The most obvious issue with this draft is that it lacks significant improvements to the pass rush. I'm of the mindset that the pass rush isn't the major problem with the Colts defense--it's the pass coverage. Both are obviously inextricably linked, but with an improved presence in the middle, we should see fewer successful crossing routes and slants that get those 3rd-and-5-or-less. Plus, with an improved ILB presence, the Colts could send Freeman on blitzes more often. I'm of the opinion that the reason we haven't seen him blitz as much this season has been the terrible play of Pat Angerer--we can't leave him on an island over the middle. If you are more concerned about pass rush, what I'd like to see is Bryan Stork taken in the second and Dee Ford taken in the fifth. If it turns out that we are set at wide receiver, Jackson Jeffcoat (OLB/DE from Texas) would be a possibility in the third, as would Zack Martin (G, Notre Dame), La'el Collins (G, LSU), Ed Stinson (DE/DT, Alabama) or Eric Kendricks (ILB--but likely to convert to OLB, UCLA).
These are absolutely not my final thoughts on the draft. I haven't done all my research, obviously, and I'm basing the availability of these players on their current projections.
As for righting the ship, I have two proposed roster changes. First, and most importantly, Trent Richardson should be moved to FB. Stanley Havili hasn't been a tremendous blocker and has been injured a bit this season. With Richardson at FB, we would have our two best RBs on the field. Richardson excels in pass blocking and in catching out of the back field. Second, convert Darrius Heyward-Bey to CB/RB. He has the speed to keep up with opposing speed receivers, and he'll have a height advantage over a lot of others. As for whether he can cover...well, it can't be much worse than his performance at receiver nor can it be much worse than Cassius Vaughn at corner. As for RB, DHB is best with the ball in his hands in space. His biggest plays this season have come on runs. I think he'd be most effective in the back field catching pitch outs.