Let me start by saying this: in knowing how the draft played out, I have a significant advantage of knowing exactly where certain players rise and fall. That being said, I will do my best to not suffer from hindsight bias, for example, in knowing a certain player I may have rated as a fourth round prospect falls to the seventh round and then waiting to the seventh round to grab him, simply because I know he'll fall that far.
As we all know, the draft will always be an inexact science that is a delicate balance of quantitative data regarding prospects as it is about each individual general manager's psychological approach to selecting players and making trades. That all being said, here's what I would have done if I had been in Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson's shoes on draft day with the players I would have considered and ultimately the player I would have taken with the selection.
Round 2 (59)
Colts actual selection: Jack Mewhort, OT/G, Ohio State
As I've mentioned almost ad nausea, I did not like this pick. It's not that I don't like Mewhort and I think he has the potential to develop into a solid offensive lineman. However, with the other talent available at this pick, I would have gone with one of the following players.
- Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
- Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
- Kony Ealy, DE, Mizzou
- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Out of these players, I would have likely leaned more towards Nix. The biggest issue the Colts have had for years has been stopping the run. It has continued to be the problem since Pagano took over. What Pagano's defense needs more than anything is a big NT who can occupy blockers but is quick enough to collapse the pocket on passing downs. That's exactly what Nix offers. Josh Chapman is a solid player but he is more of the immovable object kind of guy and has difficulty applying pressure by himself. Nix offers the quick first step and would allow the LBs more freedom to run around and make plays.
Round 3 (90)
Colts actual selection: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
I unabashedly loved this pick when it happened and still love this pick. With the guys available on the board, I would not have gone another way. Moncrief has the tools and talent to become a legitimate WR1 at the NFL level and would be the best possible replacement for an aging Reggie Wayne as the Colts go-to guy. He's a big play receiver with speed to run away from defensive backs. He does need to polish his route running but under Wayne's tutelage, he'll have every opportunity to develop. I wouldn't be surprised if Moncrief doesn't push for playing time by the end of this season.
Round 5 (166)
Colts actual selection: Jonathan Newsome, DE/OLB, Ball State
Once again, this pick left me scratching my head for a number of reasons. First, in all honesty, I felt Newsome would have gone undrafted had the Colts not swooped him up. He's an undersized player and is another player who will be making a switch from his college position to a rush OLB. Second, why did Grigson take another rush OLB when he has Bjoern Werner supposedly waiting in the wings to be Rovert Mathis's replacement. That being said, here's some of the players I would have considered over Newsome.
- Jon Halapio, G, Florida
- Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
- Jordan Zumwalt, OLB, UCLA
- Zach Fulton, OG, Tennessee
- Antone Exum, CB/S, Virginia Tech
- Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State
I would have likely taken either Exum or Dixon, leaning towards Exum. Either player can transition to FS and fill a huge void in the Colts secondary. LaRon Landry is not a coverage safety. He played his best ball playing more like a LB and attacking the line of scrimmage. It's not always good to have safeties that are interchangeable. I'd rather have a safety who is great at coverage and ok attacking the line paired with a safety who is great at attacking the line and ok in coverage than two safeties that are average at both. Converting a CB to safety is not a novel idea in the NFL and having a safety with range is exactly what the Colts needed.
Round 6 (203)
Colts actual selection: Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
I didn't mind the Jackson selection when it happened, and still am indifferent to it now. That being said, the players I would have considered over Jackson include:
- Jamea Thomas, S, Georgia Tech
- Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
- Zach Kerr, DT, Delaware
- Michael Sam, OLB, Mizzou
- Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah
With the way my draft has shaken out so far, I likely would take either Purifoy, Sam or Reilly, with the pick likely being Purifoy. Purifoy instantly upgrades the secondary and gives the Colts a great developmental prospect to play opposite Vontae Davis when Greg Toler inevitably gets hurt. Purifoy has prototypical size and ability but has several off field issues and makes too many mental mistakes. The Colts strong locker room would do wonders for a player like Purifoy. Thankfully, the Colts landed Purifoy as a priority UDFA.
Round 7 (232)
Colts actual selection: Ulrick John, OT, Georgia State
I'm going to toot my own horn here and say I told you so. In one of my first articles on Stampede Blue, I said Grigson was going to take a guy out of no where you've ever heard of as his "diamond in the rough, I'm smarter than you and do more research than you do" pick. This pick left everyone scratching their head. Here are players I would have taken over John.
- Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Mizzou
- Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah
- Ahmad Dixon, SS, Baylor
- Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UConn
- Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
At this point, I have taken a NT, WR, S, and CB. The one area of major concern I've missed is the LB position. That being said, with this pick, I would have taken Trevor Reilly out of Utah. Reilly is the country strong type of OLB that can develop opposite Robert Mathis and Bjoern Werner, who will eventually take over for Erik Walden. He's a little older and has some injury concerns but is incredibly versatile. If he isn't fast enough to play OLB in the NFL, he could easily put on weight and slide down to DE, in my opinion. For me, this would have been a no-brainer pick for the Colts.
So for my personal re-draft for the Colts, the team would have selected:
Round 2: Louis Nix, III, NT, Notre Dame
Round 3: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Round 5: Antone Exum, CB/FS, Virginia Tech
Round 6: Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
Round 7: Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah
On my board, every player would have been ranked in my top 110 prospects in this draft, so I would have been ecstatic had it played out this way but with slight reservation. This reservation is because the only major problem area I was unable to address was the offensive line. However, with the UDFA available, there are solid players that could easily develop into back ups or spot starters.
Also, if I were Grigson, I would be hoping upon hope that the past draft picks develop. If Thronton and Hughes can step in and play right away, then the line doesn't look as terrible as it did last year. Also, OG Lance Louis has a legitimate shot move into the starting role despite his injury history. I wouldn't be surprised is UDFAs OC Jonotthan Harrison and OG Josh Walker make the 53-man roster and if Thornton or Hughes struggle, possibly even push for the starting nod.
After having a couple months to digest what transpired back in May, I'm not as disappointed as I was immediately after the draft. Could the Colts have drafted a little better in my opinion? Absolutely. Do I think the guys they took were reaches? Yeah, a few. But all in all, I hope I'm terribly wrong in wanting the players I chose over the ones Grigson drafted.
As for Grigson's picks, Mewhort should develop into an above-average starting OG. Moncrief should become a legitimate top tier wide receiver. Newsome and Jackson will hopefully develop into starters but are more likely going to be solid back up and special team players, with Ulrick John likely being destined to the practice squad initially. I do hope every player Grigson drafted succeeds in an overwhelming fashion and proves me, and the many other writers who were overwhelmingly critical of this draft, wrong.