The Colts pass rush, as it is right now, sucks. There is no way around that. I wrote an article last week about that very issue, and many fans justified their faith in the pass rush by saying that, until Ryan Grigson proves otherwise, they have faith in the Colts' GM. Let me tell you that I do as well. But I have faith not that the team is perfect, but that Grigson will continue to work and continue to address needs. That means that I have faith that Grigson will address the pass rush issue, and it will very likely come in this month's upcoming draft. The only question is who they will take.
By the time the Colts pick at number 24 overall, many of the top outside linebackers will already be off the board. That very likely will include the likes of Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, Jarvis James, and Bjoern Werner, along with the possibility of others. At that point, selecting an outside linebacker in the first round would be overreaching for a player that the Colts needn't overreach for. In my opinion, the ideal situation for the Colts would be to trade out of the first round entirely, but that is another discussion for another time (and it will be coming, I guarantee you that).
The bottom line is that the outside linebacker position must be addressed with a pass rusher. The thing is, it doesn't have to be addressed in the first round. In fact, the player whom I want the Colts to draft could probably be had in the third round. Meet Trevardo Williams, a defensive end out of the University of Connecticut. This is what NFL.com's scouting report had to say about Williams:
This native of Jamaica has the speed you’d expect from someone growing up in one of the world’s largest exporters of elite sprinters. The 2012 first-team All-Big East pick used that speed, as well as underrated strength, to put up 24 sacks the past two seasons. His lack of size limits him to very specific 4-3 schemes at defensive end, but his ability to rush the passer from a stand-up position could help him transition to a 3-4 linebacker spot at the next level. To effectively play 3-4 OLB however, he's going to need to prove that he's agile enough, and possesses enough instincts to hold up in coverage.
CBS Sports' scouting report on him said this:
Interest should be strong from a 3-4 team willing to bank on the chance that Williams can be just as effective rushing from a two-point stance as he has been with his hand in the ground.
Lastly, Stampede Blue's own draft guru Matt Grecco (who has been doing a tremendous job profiling draft prospects) wrote this in his profile on Williams:
He'd obviously be an excellent fit on the Colts, even if he couldn't start Week 1, which he probably would not be as he learned the position. He can clearly get to the QB, so he could play on passing downs and exclusively rush the passer, almost like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney did last season. He's being projected in the 2nd/3rd round, so he'd have to drop a bit, or the Colts will have to go up to get him. With the advent of speed guys on the outside, and the history of them right here in Indianapolis, Williams would be a nice addition to the Colts Defense.
I agree with Matt in that he would be a tremendous addition for the Colts. It would seem to be an ideal situation for Williams as well. The Colts signed Erik Walden to a free agent contract this offseason and he is making around $3 million a year. The team has every intention of starting Walden opposite Robert Mathis, who moves over to rush linebacker to take Dwight Freeney's spot. Walden is a capable run defender and does a decent job at setting the edge, but he is an awful pass rusher. PFF consistently ranked him as one of the worst pass rushers in the NFL, and his career high in sacks in a single season is 3. Even Freeney, in an awful year last year, had 5. The Colts need a pass rusher, and Williams could fill that role. However, Williams needs work to become an every down linebacker, and he could have that time to work in Indy while not having to have the added pressure of producing on the field every down. Walden will no doubt be the starting linebacker, but having another pass rusher like Williams would mean that Walden wouldn't have to do what he is terrible at. At the same time, having a run defender like Walden would mean that Williams wouldn't have to do something that he's not ready to do yet. It would seem to be a great fit.
Added to that, Williams would seem (obviously) to have a higher upside than Walden. While Walden probably won't become a great pass rusher ever, Williams could develop into a good all around 3-4 outside linebacker with work. Again, he has never played there so he will require work. But with work, he could be starting every down for the Colts in a year or two. For a third round pick, he would address a big need and be able to contribute there already, while also learning and hopefully developing the ability to be an every down linebacker. This pick is one that seems to me like a no-brainer for the Colts. The only holdups would appear to be if they address the need earlier in the draft or if Williams is gone by the time the Colts draft in the third round (they currently don't have a second round pick). He is projected to go right around the third round, but I would guess that he will be there when the Colts pick. If so, this one should be a clear decision. The Colts have a need and there is a good quality player who could fill that need. Seems logical to me.
Trevardo Williams could be a big addition to the Colts roster and would address the most concerning part of the Colts' roster. I'm a big proponent of this move happening. What about the rest of you?
NOTE: Read Matt Grecco's profile on Trevardo Williams for Stampede Blue here.
Trevardo Williams Career Stats at University of Connecticut