It's the week before the draft, and that means the Mocking the Draft live mock draft has come and gone. For those that don't know, the Mocking the Draft live mock draft is one where every team is "managed" by a fan, usually from the corresponding SB Nation fan site so you don't have anyone making stupid picks for their team's rival like saying picking Tim Tebow in the first roun... oh, ummm, anyways, and every pick is selected. Every GM has the authority to trade picks, current and future, and the rights to drafted players. The only stipulations are you cannot trade a current NFL player and any trade must be within around 200 points of each other based on the trade value chart. At the end of the draft every team gets to claim 5 UDFAs to finish off their draft class.
For the third consecutive year, the Indianapolis Colts were represented by Stampede Blue commenter TrueBlue87 and myself. Even though this is posted under my name, I give TrueBlue87 the credit for writing up the majority of the analysis while I'll only throw in my two cents here and there.
Going in, we had a few rules we intended to follow.
- Trust our board. This meant not reaching for someone because the position is perceived as a need or reaching for someone because of a positional run.
- Try to trade down and get some additional picks, particularly in the late rounds, as we are quite confident in our ability to scout late-round prospects.
If you've read these previous summaries from the last few years, we will try to provide a window into how things broke during the draft and our thought processes.
Round 2, Pick 59: Traded to New Orleans (with Round 7, Pick 232) for Round 3, Pick 91, Round 4, Pick 126 and 2015 2nd round pick
TrueBlue87: The lead-up to pick 59 was very, very frustrating. There were some interesting prospects who fell, but with only 5 picks we simply lacked the ammunition to move up. Jimmie Ward went to Dallas at 47 and Deone Bucannon to Philadelphia at 54. The wide receivers fell, but our targets: Jordan Matthews (San Francisco, 53), Allen Robinson (Tampa Bay, 52), Donte Moncreif (Cincinnati, 55) and Cody Latimer (New Orleans, 56) all went before we could pick. This is an example of where, with more picks, we likely would have jumped up around 6 spots to nab Matthews. The pass rushers we targeted, guys like Van Noy and Attaochu, and the linemen, particularly Bitonio, Gabe Jackson, and Weston Richburg, all were picked before we went on the clock.
Ultimately, it came down to Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State or Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville. Both would have been solid choice, but each has limitations. Smith is still raw, an explosion of production this year without much of a track record. Crichton has an excellent motor, but there are some concerns about flexibility which might prevent him from becoming anything more than a rotational pass rusher. We also considered Davante Adams but ultimately felt he was more of a mid-third prospect
Fortunately, Jacksonville and New Orleans had offered up trades for the pick. While Jacksonville backed out (which was unfortunate, as part of the trade was a 2015 2nd round pick which would likely be in the top third of the round), New Orleans did not. This trade was a slam-dunk success for us. Point-value wise, it was over 200 in our favor. We felt could move out of the round completely and still find value at the end of the third. However, the true success comes with the 2015 second round pick. We felt between expected improvements from the 2013 rookie class and the return of key players from injury the team would improve enough to cover for the loss of the pick while the 2015 extra second rounder provides additional flexibility to either cut and replace expensive players to mitigate anticipated free agency losses.
Stephen: TrueBlue87 said it perfectly. We were so incredibly frustrated to see our guys fall off literally picks before us. Thankfully, I spent the 30-45 minutes before wheeling and dealing trying to get a few options on the line in case none of our guys were available. I learned from last year having several teams pull out last minute and not having a back-up option. As TrueBlue87 mentioned, Jacksonville pulled out but thankfully we had New Orleans lined up for us and we got them to offer up a 2015 Round 2 selection. Despite the heckling from the moderator about the Colts finally getting a chance to pick only to trade it away, we think we made a solid decision.
Round 3, Pick 90: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
TrueBlue87: Now, before mocking us for drafting Stanford players, let us at least explain the logic behind the pick.
Our targeted pass rushers, Crichton and Smith went to Jacksonville at 70 and the New York Giants at 74 respectively. Davante Adams went at our old spot of 59 to New Orleans, Paul Richardson went to Tampa Bay at 77, Jarvis Landry went to Cleveland at 71, and Jared Abbredaris went to Baltimore at 79. DaQuan Jones went to Houston with the first pick of the round. Stanley Jean-Baptiste was completely overdrafted by Jacksonville at 36.
We had a few targets for the spot, but ultimately felt Murphy was the best fit and the best value. So why Murphy? Well, the biggest knock on him, and one we are sure to hear about in the comment section, is the lack of elite athleticism. These physical limitations were evident at the Senior Bowl. However, Murphy's positive traits make-up for his physical inabilities. Murphy has the attitude you want in a football player. He is a hard worker who plays to the whistle. He is very smart, with a high football IQ and the ability to diagnose plays and anticipate the snap. Murphy also has very developed pass rushing moves for this stage of his career and excels at using his hands to disengage from blockers. What ultimately won us over was Rob Rang's comparison to Jared Allen. When Allen came into the league from Idaho State, many felt he would never blossom because of physical limitations. But Allen's work ethic overcame those limitations and he vastly outperformed his 4th round status. While Murphy is unlikely to repeat Allen's feat, he still has the character necessary to overcome his mid-round status and develop into a solid contributor for the Colts pass rush.
We also should point out this selection does not in any way show our displeasure with Bjoern Werner. Werner showed great potential last year and is still developing. Selecting Murphy improves the Colts depth in the event of injury and provides competition for developmental projects like Cam Johnson and Daniel Adongo. It also make Erik Walden expendable at the end of the year, allowing his remaining $4 million per year to be shed from the payroll without having to rely on a rookie for significant playing time to replicate his minutes.
Stephen: We were shocked to see Murphy still on the board near the end of Round 3. While TrueBlue87 and I may disagree on how much Werner showed last year, it is always wise to invest in pass rushers. Yes, Murphy has limitations physically, however, unlike Werner, Murphy actually played OLB in Stanford's 3-4 defense and oh by the way, led the nation in sacks last season. That's one of the reasons I was all for the pick, because despite perceived physical limitations, Murphy consistently produced as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.
Round 3, Pick 91: Traded to Atlanta for Round 4, Pick 103, Round 5, Pick 147, Round 7, Pick 220
TrueBlue87: While waiting for our pick, we once again fielded offers for anyone looking to move up. We got a couple of offers, but most of them weren't tempting enough to bite on or were lopsided against us. However, Atlanta made us a great offer. For moving down only 12 spots, we picked up an additional 5th round pick and regained the 7th rounder we lost. We had 3 guys we targeted who were falling, and hoped we could get one on the third pick of the next day
Stephen: Reiterating what TrueBlue87 said, we felt trading back and picking up extra picks was better than reaching for a guy when we had several we thought would be available at 103.
Round 4, Pick 103: Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
TrueBlue87: And everyone who doesn't enjoy researching and studying draft prospects just went, "who?" Dozier was the top of the three prospects we hoped to get by moving down (the other two were Kelcy Quarles, DE/DT, South Carolina and Walk Aikens, CB, Liberty). Dokota is a raw prospect who never played guard for Furman, but the Colts have the luxury of not needing to press him into service thanks to Donald Thomas, Hugh Thornton, Lance Louis, and Joe Reitz. Dozier has excellent speed for such a big man, with quickness off the snap and the ability to both pull and get to the second level. Like most mid-round prospects, Dozier has some things to work on. He will sometimes get too far out of his stance, allowing himself to get pushed back while pass protecting. He also needs to be more consistent with the powerful blocking ability he flashes. Ultimately, Dozier's has an amazing amount of upside and was well worth the risk in the fourth round.
Stephen: I have been a huge fan of Dozier for quite some time now and was floored that he was there in Round 4. He's got amazing potential and shores up an obvious deficiency in the Colts interior of the offensive line. In time, Dozier will easily step in for Donald Thomas, or possibly Hugh Thornton if he doesn't develop.
Round 4, Pick 126: Kelcy Quarles, DE/DT, South Carolina
TrueBlue87: We were shocked when we came back on the clock again and saw Kelcy Quarles still there. This was an amazing value pick, with Quarles rated in the mid-third. We thought about Walt Aikens, but felt we could get him or an equivalent corner in the fourth but wouldn't be able to a defensive line prospect of Quarles caliber at the same point. The knock on Quarles is that he made many of plays based off of opponents shifting blockers to Clowney, but that criticism ignores Quarles own talents. Quarles has an NFL body with long arms, a thick frame and a very quick first step. He has the ability to play in both the 4-3 and the 3-4, at both the 5-technique and the nose for the latter. He is stout in the run and displays good quickness to rush the passer. Quarles still needs to develop a better awareness and football IQ, but this is something that someone like Cory Redding and the coaching staff can teach. With ample depth this year, Quarles should be ready to step in and contribute next year after the possible departures of Fili Moala and Cory Redding.
Stephen: Another shocker to me having Quarles available at the end of Round 4. He's the "other defensive lineman" for South Carolina and while he undoubtedly reaped the reward of playing next to Clowney, he still was an impressive defensive lineman in his own right. Completely honest here, I was pushing for Walt Aikens with this pick but TrueBlue87 convinced me otherwise.
Round 5, Pick 147: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
TrueBlue87: And the Atlanta trade reaps benefits once again. We had Aikens rated with a group of other corners who had fallen, but Aikens was our highest rated guy. Carolina was livid that we made the pick one slot in front in them, and that is always a good indication of a solid pick. Aikens has been discussed extensively on here. He has good size at 6'1 and excellent arm length at 32 ¼ inches. He has experience in man and off-man coverage and knows how to press a wide receiver. Aikens is willing and aggressive in run support. His speed and quickness, while not elite, should be enough to keep up with NFL receivers. However, all of these physical attributes are unpolished. There are level of competition concerns with Liberty, although he did perform very well at the Senior Bowl. Aikens has some maturity concerns, with his dismissal from Illinois and his guilty plea to theft charges. Aikens is raw and will need to dedicate himself to his craft, but he has all the physical tools to be an excellent NFL cornerback.
Stephen: My heart may literally skip a beat if Aikens is available to the Colts in Round 5. If you want my take on him, there's a draft profile for him on Stampede Blue. Realistically, unless Grigson can be as shrewd as we are, it's unlikely he'll have an early Round 5 pick, but if he gets one, there is a ton of talent available in the draft.
Round 5, Pick 166: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
TrueBlue87: Kenny Ladler was our top safety target from the get-go, since we felt Jimmie Ward wouldn't fall. And yes, this includes preferring Ladler to someone like Deone Buccannon or Dion Bailey, who were both ranked in the 3-4 range. Ladler is a perfect fit for the Colts defense. Ladler has a good frame for the position, with solid speed and range. However, Ladler's best attribute is his high football IQ. Ladler has fantastic diagnostic skills and knows how to follow a quarterback's eyes. He has experience at both safety spots. Ladler is a solid open-field tackler, but does need to show more consistency in that department. Ultimately, we felt it was worth trying to replace Antione Bethea with a player who most scouts believe resembles the departed player.
Stephen: Again, we were a little shocked another of our targets was available. Ladler is a solid coverage safety who doesn't take false steps and has the range to cover center field and allow Landry to creep up into the box and minimize the angles he has to take to the ball carrier.
Round 6, Pick 203: Chris Davis, CB, Auburn
TrueBlue87: This was a run-to-the-podium type pick. The one other player we wanted to draft was Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, a developmental tackle prospect from Canada. And he was drafted by Minnesota at 157. Chris Davis was one of the corner prospects we considered at 147 if Aiken wasn't there. The hero of the Iron Bowl, Davis was the player who returned the missed field goal for a touchdown. However, Davis offers much more than that. While a bit shorter than most scouts might like at 5'10, Davis has the speed to keep up with NFL receivers, running a 4.55 40. Davis has quick twitch type of speed and knows how to run with and mirror receivers. Davis has an added bonus of being an accomplished kick and punt returner, with good vision who knows how to use his blocks. Davis is an underrated corner who will outplay his draft position, especially this late.
Stephen: Davis is a tough corner who is a little less heralded but as TrueBlue87 mentions, he can double as a kick returner and clearly can make plays in the return game.
Round 7, Pick 220: TJ Jones, WR, Notre Dame
TrueBlue87: There were a few players we considered here. Corey Linsley the center from Ohio State and Jake Murphy, the tight end from Utah but felt we might be lucky enough to get one or both as UDFAs. Ultimately, the value presented by TJ Jones was just too much to pass up. Jones isn't the biggest receiver nor is he the fastest. But he possesses the two most important traits for a wide receiver: sure hands and sharp routes. Those of us who have admired Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne know important a good route is. All you have to do is look at how poorly Da'Rick Rogers ran his routes at the end of last year to see how a sloppily run route can result in an interception. Jones still has work to do learning how to use speed to get separation and will never be a burner, but his football IQ and refined technique all but guarantees he will carve out a niche in the NFL.
Stephen: I saw plenty of Jones as a Notre Dame fan and too felt the value Jones offers in Round 7 was too good to pass up. While he will never be an elite wide receiver, he has an opportunity to supplant some other less reliable wide receivers currently on the Colts roster.
UDFA 1: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
TrueBlue87: Jake Murphy is an excellent tight end prospect and was our top priority as a free agent, especially since he was someone we'd looked at for two straight rounds. Murphy has a great deal of experience flexing out, his primary role at Utah, but is also capable of playing in-line and as an H-back. He still needs to work on his blocking and learn to maximize the use of his NFL-ready 6'4 249 lb frame. Murphy has a great attitude though, and is a willing and tenacious blocker, even if his technique needs work. Murphy is older than the average rookie, already 24, but could prove a good upgrade at third tight end.
UDFA 2: Kevin Graf, OT, Southern California
TrueBlue87: Kevin Graf is a three-year starter at right tackle for USC. He has NFL size at 6-6, 303. An impressive week at the East-West Shrine game showed that Graf has the capability to handle NFL caliber players. Graf's biggest asset is his flexibility. Just as importantly, Graf appeared to improve each of the three years and played his best football his final year. With Jeff Linkenbach now in Kansas City, the Colts need a swingman tackle and Graf is the in the mix for that position. The back that he can also play guard only makes him a more intriguing prospect.
UDFA 3: Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Stephen: Hazel was one of my picks as an UDFA pick up. I lobbied briefly for taking him in Round 7 but felt he'd be a better UDFA target. Hazel comes from a small school and played less than stellar competition. However, he has excellent hands and is a hard worker who ran a full route tree at Coastal Carolina lining up both inside and outside at times. Hazel does have some physical limitations and tends to get nervous coming over the middle.
UDFA 4: Jonotthan Harrison, C, Florida
Stephen: I had the choice of either Harrison or James Stone. Obviously I went with Harrison. Harrison was put in the unfortunate position of following the Pouncey brothers at Florida. However, he possesses excellent size and arm length, a huge factor for interior linemen, with great balance and power. He's a smart player who always seems aware of his surroundings and could be a great backup, or eventual starter, at the center position despite his athletic limitations and inability to consistently get to the second level.
UDFA 5: Morgan Breslin, OLB/DE, Southern California
TrueBlue87: Morgan Breslin is an interesting prospect. At 6'1, 240 Breslin is undersized. Breslin gets a good jump off the snap and knows how to dip his shoulder to get around blockers. He has a strong burst in closing on a ball carrier. However, Breslin lacks power and does not have a bull rush, relying purely on speed. Breslin's small size also means he may not be able to remain on the field during run downs. Breslin also had hip and hernia surgery in 2013, limiting him to 5 games. Most importantly, there is a major question if any of Breslin's speed and explosion remain. However, as an undrafted free agent, Breslin is worth a risk.
As always, I'm excited to hear your comments, suggestions, or overall dissatisfaction. Feel free to get at me on Twitter @Reed_StephenT