I'll state this as clearly as I can: I had no insider information that the Colts were going to reach a deal with WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Monday evening.
However, the longer it took for DHB to make his decision on who to sign with following his visit to the Lions, the likelier it seemed that the Colts would be the front-runner for his services. This, and other factors, played into my decision to take UCLA defensive end Datone Jones with the No. 24 pick in the 2013 SB Nation Writers' Mock Draft.
If you're too lazy to click over to Dan Kadar's little draft hub, here's what I wrote to justify the selection:
"It kills me that I can’t take a truly impressive receiver like Hopkins, giving Andrew Luck another weapon to wreck havoc with on opposing defenses. However, last year the Colts dedicated eight of their ten picks to players on offense. The results were that their defense in 2012 was just about bad as the unit that ultimately led to their 2-14 season in 2011. The Colts need blue chip players on defense if they mean to contend, and it just so happens that the best player at No. 24 is, indeed, a defensive player that fits a BIG need."
Dan seemed to like the pick, and the reader poll has my pick hovering at around a "B" grade. That's cool. Mock drafts are meant to be fun as long as the picks are logical, and I think, for the most part, readers see the logic in Jones-to-Indy.
Truth is, it was really Matt Grecco who talked me into talking Jones. I was leaning towards DeAndre Hopkins, but after a phone call with Matt (and a quick re-read of his scouting report on Jones) I was sold.
Pass rusher is a huge need in the draft. However, if the Colts are truly dedicated to having - sigh - Erik Walden start at outside linebacker, then logic demands that you do not draft someone like Damontre Moore from Texas A&M. Not if Jones is still on the board.
Jones offers the total package, and at 6'4, 283 lbs, he's perfect to play defensive end in a 3-4 and under tackle in a 4-3 on passing downs.
As Matt so perfectly stated in his report on Jones:
The Colts need playmakers on Defense, and Jones looks to be a guy that can do exactly that, and at any number of positions.
If Jones ends up being the pick, look for him to rotate with the 32-year-old Cory Redding, a player many draft gurus compare Jones to. A line rotation of Jones, Redding, and Ricky Jean-Francois sounds pretty good to me!
Jones had 43 starts in 51 career games at UCLA. He earned 148 career tackles, 12.5 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. As Matt noted, the coaching change to Jim Mora, Jr.'s really helped Jones. Jones also looked dominant at the Senior Bowl and impressed with his intellect and athleticism at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
Bottom line: This guy just fit what this team needed and what they likely want. I would not be surprised if he ends up being the actual pick in the draft, and if he is, I'll be a very happy Colts blogger.