The 2012 NFL Draft was a huge success for the Colts, who stocked up offense with picks that included QB Andrew Luck, TE's Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, RB Vick Ballard and WRs T. Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill.
Now the Colts hope to build around that young core, and although they have 14 unrestricted free agents, and only five draft choices, they reportedly have in the area of $44 million to spend.
Although the Colts offensive line was terrible last season (ProFootball Focus's 31st ranked offensive line...the 245 combined sacks, hits and hurries they gave up were 32 more than any other team), it didn't seem to stop the Colts (who posted a nine game jump in wins from 2011 to 2012) or Luck (2nd in Rookie of the year balloting, and set NFL record for yards passing yards by a rookie QB, with 4,183 on the season ).
It would appear, much like Manning was able to do before, Luck is able to cover up a lot of holes in the O-line, so although building a strong offensive line to protect their new franchise QB would certainly make sense, I expect the Colts to prioritize the defensive side of the ball, as Indianapolis tries to transition from an undersized Tampa-two 4-3 to a more stout 3-4.
Freeney is a free agent that will not be resigned, and picking #24 is likely too late to secure the services of a pass rusher like Dion Jordan, Damontre Moore, or Barkevious Mingo, leaving the possibility of Jarvis Jones (who may fall due to medicals = spinal stenosis), Alex Okafor, or Sam Montgomery.
#24 Sam Montgomery OLB/DE LSU: At 6'5 260, Although a more natural fit at defensive end, Montgomery may wish to lose a little of the weight he put on to play DE in LSU's 4-3 defense. Although his sack numbers dipped from his Sophomore to Junior seasons, he still has the skill to be a top pass rusher in the NFL.
#86 William Gholston, DE Michigan State: Playing DE in a 4-3 while standing 6'7 and 278 pounds rarely accentuates your positives, and much like Arizona's Calais Campbell, I expect Gholston to perform better as a 3-4 DE.
4th round: Khaled Holmes C/G, USC: 6'3 and a mere 302 at the NFL Combine, Holmes entered the 2012 as the #1 Center prospect, however injuries and poor performances against both Utah's Star Lotulelei, and Notre Dame's Louis Nix 111(each of which are 1st round caliber DTs listed above 320).
NOTE: Despite a poor season, USC plays a pro-style offense, and Holmes started all of 2010 at right offensive guard as a Sophomore, before moving to center for his Junior and Senior years.
6th round: Kapron Lewis-Moore 3-4 DE, Notre Dame: At 6'4, 306, KLM started 29 games while helping lead the Fighting Irish's reemergence on defense.
7th round: Alonszo Highsmith, ILB Arkansas: Listed at 6'1, 233: The son of former NFL running back (and current Green Bay Packers scouting executive) Alonzo Highsmith didn’t have an easy path to SEC success. Lightly recruited coming out of high school and forced to junior college due to academics, Highsmith started all 13 games as a Junior, leading the Razorbacks with 12.5 tackles for loss (80 total stops, 4.5 sacks).
Unfortunately, he was not able to build upon that success during his Senior year, after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in early October.