Rather than immerse myself into the fray about relative value of the contracts issued so far, I simply feel that the most glaring need of this off season has been satisfied by upgrading at least two spots along the offensive line with Cherilus and Thomas. The five defenders inked by the team were, presumably, identified and targeted by the team and that's good enough for me. I will be riveted to their progress as we move through OTA's and then training camp. I would feel a little happier if one more interior o-lineman was signed to further fortify Luck's protection. That would be the icing on my cake as far as this year's free agency period goes.
Now, for what the draft shapes up like. I think Andrew Luck has to be provided with a 1st round talent wide receiver that can grow and develop chemistry with in the manner Peyton did with Marvin. With the line manned with improved talent, a decent stable of backs (Brown, Ballard and Carter), and a very talented group of tight end weapons, the single missing piece is that solid #2 this year that becomes #1 as Reggie's skills erode with time. Once that guy is secured with our first pick, I'm thinking all defense with our remaining picks. Here we go :
1- DeAndre Hopkins - WR - Clemson - 6-1; 214; 4.45 : NFLDraftScouts compares him to Reggie, and that would seem to make him the perfect choice to fit into Pep's hybrid west coast style offense. Good route runner, natural hands, very focused and tough over the middle. Not the burner that T.Y. Hilton or Brazill are, but he doesn't have to be in order to be effective.He " . . .creates separation and is a reliable pass catcher . . ." and "If the ball is thrown in Hopkins' area, he goes and gets it".
3- Jon Bostic - ILB- Florida- 6-1; 246; 4.76 : Instinctive, physical no-nonsense inside backer who plays the run well plus can cover backs and tight ends. Is a three down ILB, not merely a thumper. He would fit in with our group of Freeman, Angerer, Conner and Harvey. Has the talent to work into the starter's role, but would at least be a solid contributor early in the year.
4- Keith Pough - OLB- Howard - 6-2; 241; 4.84 : MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Stood out at Shrine Game practices with motor and intensity, plus leadership qualities. Very athletic. Fundamentally sound. Displays the coordination and smooth hips to play in coverage or blitz when called upon.. With NFL caliber coaching has incredible upside. Would be solid on special teams while developing into a player. His intangibles match up with Colts football.
6- JJ Wilcox - SS - Georgia Southern - 5-11- 214 - 4.54 : Athletic frame with thick lower half. Excellent range and instincts. Aggressive and sound tackler. Performed well against elite competition at the Senior Bowl. A sixth round pick that would be a nice developmental safety and special teamer. Not restricted to strong safety, as he has shown the flexibility to play either deep role effectively. Antoine Bethea, himself, was a former 6th round pick. Wilcox could be Antoine's eventual replacement.
7- Joe Kruger - DE - Utah - 6-6; 280; 4.85 :Paul Kruger's brother, so the bloodlines are there. Plays the run fast. Top work ethic and motor. High character. Very smooth for a big man, with intriguing versatility to line up in multiple positions along the line. Again, NFL caliber coaching would have a lot to work with and could help Kruger become a quality player at the next level.
This draft, in addition to the players the Colts have just signed in free agency, would stock the defense with plenty of talent. Manusky would be ecstatic to have all these new "toys" plus McKinney and Chapman returning from injury. Our defense should be substantially better than recent editions.
As usual, I look forward to your comments and conversation. Go Colts !