Well, folks. This is it. We're getting dangerously close to the actual event, so I think it's high time I post the final mock draft. I've watched a lot more tape recently, and so my preferred choices have changed. I'm also including rank-ordered UDFA suggestions. TO THE PICKS!
ROUND 2, PICK #59
1. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State: He's been at the top of this list for a long time, and for good reason. As I've said before, Jackson will likely lock down the position for the next ten years. The pick makes even more sense if the Colts are thinking about sliding Donald Thomas over to center.
2. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State: Those pounding the table for the Colts to take a receiver this year finally broke me. I've watched a lot of tape on Davante Adams, Jordan Matthews, Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson, and Donte Moncrief. While all of them are quality prospects, I think Adams provides the best mix of speed, quickness, physicality, hands, and route running. He isn't as pro-ready as Allen Robinson (who could start from day one), but he's faster. His worst game of the season came against USC, and even on that tape he looks like a future #1 receiver. Watch this video from 1:01 to 1:17; Adams absolutely destroys the USC defensive back with his double move.
3. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: While Allen Robinson isn't nearly as quick as Adams and doesn't have as high a motor, he has an incredibly high floor. Robinson may be the safest pick in the entire draft outside of the top 20--he ran a full, pro-style route tree in college and produced at a very high level despite mediocre-at-best QB play.
4. Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville: The biggest headline from this mock is the rise and fall of Marcus Smith. I was super, super high on him last time, but I've soured just a bit. I think he has a lower floor than any of the other players I've mentioned because he often loses against tackles when trying to turn the corner. That can easily be fixed as he grows as a pass rusher (he came to Louisville as a QB), but as it stands, I'd take Robinson over him because of Robinson's higher floor, and Adams over him because of Adams's higher ceiling. One thing is for sure, though: Marcus Smith's best football lies ahead of him.
5. Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State: I know most people prefer Deone Bucannon, but I think Brooks is the better option. He covers better than Bucannon and is more explosive in run support. Too much has been made of Brooks's tackling problems--he's been hammered for missing tackles, but that's only when he goes for the big hit. When he actually squares up to the ball carrier, he is a very consistent tackler. He just needs to break that bad habit.
ROUND 3, PICK #90
1. DaQuan Jones, NT, Penn State: Marcus Smith is no longer listed here because I seriously doubt he will be available. If the Colts want Smith, they'll have to take him at #59 (and I'd be totally fine with that--despite me souring on him a bit, he's still a tremendous prospect). That said, with him off the board, DaQuan Jones returns to the top slot. As I've continually said, Jones is the best NT prospect in this draft. He has the power to blow through double teams, and he has the motor to pursue the ball carrier from the back side (lol).
2. Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State: Freeman has the upside to be a 3 down, feature back. He is a quick, one-cut runner with excellent top speed. Further, he pass blocks extremely well--I recommend watching him against Auburn in the BCS Championship. He showed tremendous awareness picking up blitzes. He should only improve as a blocker with time in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of Ahmad Bradshaw, minus the whole being made of glass thing--he never missed a single game in college. I think he will be a better player than DaQuan Jones, but he's second on this list because of a similarly talented RB who will be available in the 7th or as a UDFA. Regardless, I'd be fine if the Colts drafted Freeman over DaQuan Jones.
3. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana: Latimer has tremendous size, speed, and upside. I don't list him higher because I think Devonta Freeman and DaQuan Jones have a better shot at become great starters, though Latimer has a higher ceiling than both. However, if he miraculously falls to the 3rd round and the Colts take him over Jones or Freeman, you won't hear a peep of regret out of me. Latimer has the potential to be a #1 receiver, so I'd be ecstatic.
4. Jaylen Watkins, CB/FS, Florida: If the Colts want a safety in the early rounds, all things considered Jaylen Watkins is my preferred choice. He wouldn't cost the Colts their second round pick, and he has far more versatility. He can cover well and line up at either position.
5. Christian Jones, ILB/OLB/DE: If he falls this far, it'd be a major coup. As I've said time and again, he's versatile, athletic, takes great angles, and plays with a high motor. He can cover as well as any ILB in this class, and he routinely puts on a clinic when it comes to pursuit and tackling.
ROUND 5, PICK #166
1a. Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty: Big, fast, physical, raw, etc. etc.
1b. Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin: Just a few days ago, Dezmen Southward was a 7th/UDFA prospect. However, in that time I've seen him projected anywhere between the 6th all the way up to the 3rd. That said, if the Colts want him, I'm happy to see the Colts to take him in the fifth. He isn't as good as Kenny Ladler, but has a much, much higher ceiling. Southward is more athletic and plays with a higher motor. If Aikens is off the board, Southward should be the pick.
2. Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt: Ladler is a quality FS prospect. He covers well, has some ball skills, and has great zone awareness. However, I think his ceiling is not as high as Dezmen Southward due to Southward's superior athleticism and higher motor.
3. Vinnie Sunseri, SS, Alabama: Vinnie Sunseri is cerebral, physical run defender who needs work in pass coverage but is great in pursuit and tackling. He's an ideal strong safety with the upside to become a starter. Plus, we could call him "V-Sun", which would only be slightly more annoying that people referring to Trent Richardson as "T-Rich".
4. Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville: Brown is a solid ILB prospect who is great in pursuit and has the athleticism to cover over the middle. He's raw in coverage, though, so he'll need some work. He is also athletic enough to slide outside to SOLB if the situation requires it.
5. Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt: Despite a slow 40 time (IT MATTERS!!!11), Hal was a very successful DB for Vanderbilt. He manned up very well against Donte Moncrief, and will likely be a solid #2 CB after a year or two of development.
ROUND 6, PICK #203
1. Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin: If Southward is there in the 6th, it wouldn't make sense for the Colts not to draft him. He's got tons of upside. In college he played a great mix of single-high and man coverage. He has the athleticism and the physicality to line up against TEs and slot receivers. He's become my new favorite safety prospect available in round 4 or later.
2. Ricardo Allen, CB/FS, Purdue: Undersized but physical, great zone awareness, solid ball skills, etc. etc.
3. TJ Jones, WR, Notre Dame: I've said before how good a player TJ Jones is. He's small, but he's really fast, quick, and very physical. Plus, he has huge hands. He's only this low on draft boards because of his height and because he usually only lined up in the slot in college. However, he has the speed and physicality to play outside in the NFL. If the Colts don't take a receiver earlier on, and Jones is around in the 6th, he should get serious consideration.
4. Brandon Linder, G, Miami: Well rounded, potential to be a good back up, not a liability anywhere, and so on and so forth.
5. Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford: Gaffney has dropped a bit due to the potential of a UDFA RB discussed below. Still, he's a powerful runner who could be a consistent 4.0 YPC guy. However, he is not a home-run hitter at all. He's not particularly fast or quick, and he lacks the type of burst to the hole you'd like to see out of a starting back. He projects as a solid rotational/back up guy.
ROUND 7, PICK #232:
1. James Stone, C, Tennessee: I've pounded the table pretty hard for this guy for a long time. I still think he's the absolute best possible 7th round selection. He's big, physical, and has great awareness. He routinely stuffed interior linemen by himself--most centers double up with a guard.
2. Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee: Everything I've said about James Stone applies to Zach Fulton.
3. Any of the following UDFA candidates: UDFAs can play a big role in the development of a team. With that in mind, it would make sense for the Colts to just spend a draft pick on one they really wanted to ensure they got.
1. Silas Redd, RB, USC: I have no idea how he isn't higher on draft boards. He's fast, powerful, and has great awareness when pass blocking. Further, he has experience running in a power run scheme, especially with a fullback in front of him. He's a perfect, perfect fit for the Colts' offense. If given an adequate chance (which is not something this coaching staff is known for), Redd will absolutely make the final roster, assuming the Colts do not draft Devonta Freeman (who is only somewhat better).
2. Greg Blair, ILB, Cincinnati: Athletic, great tackler, great in pursuit, solid coverage skills. This guy will be an absolute steal as a UDFA prospect. Like Silas Redd, I have no idea how this guy isn't higher on draft boards. Like Silas Redd, if Greg Blair is given a real chance, he will unquestionably make the final roster and become a long-term contributor.
3. Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas: Byndom is a strong corner who isn't afraid to get physical with receivers. He offers a lot of upside in run support, and he has great closing burst. He is prone to letting quicker receivers slip by, but he has tons of upside as a true press-man corner.
4. Nickoe Whitley, FS, Mississippi State: Whitley has elite size, but struggles a bit in pursuit. He needs to improve his angles and his tackling. However, he's great as a center-fielder, high-zone coverage safety. He'd be a great project, and stands a solid shot at making the roster.