1 -- Safety
2 -- 5 Tech Defensive End
3 -- Nose Tackle
1st Round Pick -- 29th Overall Pick
Arik Armstead -- Defensive End / Defensive Tackle -- Oregon
The Colts need some size along their defensive line. Armstead is massive at nearly 6'8, 295 pounds. For a guy his size, he shows good athleticism and has good enough knee bend for the position. With his size and athleticism, the sky is the limit. He fits in nicely with the Colts' current scheme and could be a starter for the Colts as a rookie, but is a bit raw in some areas. This helps a big need for the Colts, as they need guys to replace Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois, on top of the injury questions surrounding Arthur Jones. Armstead makes a lot of sense for the Colts and would legitimize their defensive line.
2nd Round Pick -- 61st Overall Pick
Duke Johnson -- Running Back -- Miami (Fla)
Duke Johnson may be my favorite prospect in the draft. Johnson is a good all around, 3 down running back who plays with good speed and power. Johnson would be more of a longterm pick for the Colts. Ideally, Johnson will transition after this season and take over the starting role (like Hyde did with Gore in San Francisco). If the Colts pick Johnson as their running back, they would be solving the future at running back and would have a good complimentary running back with Gore as the starter. Johnson would be a smart pick here.
3rd Round Pick -- 93rd Overall Pick
Justin Hardy -- Wide Receiver -- East Carolina
Justin Hardy may be the most underrated receiver in the draft. He isn't big, but he's a great route runner with good hands. Hardy was the most productive receiver in East Carolina history and was Shane Carden's favorite target for a couple of seasons. With TY Hilton and Andre Johnson being the established starters, Hardy would have to compete with Donte Moncrief for the #3 spot. Continuing with the theme of "building the future", picking Hardy would help set the receiver position for the future. Hardy would fit nicely in the system and could be a great target for Luck (in a more possesion receiver type of role).
4th Round Pick -- 128th Overall Pick
James Sample -- Safety -- Louisville
James Sample is a talented player, but doesn't have a lot of experience as a full time starter and has some raw skills. It would have been wise for Sample to stay in school for another season to gain more experience, but obviously, he did not do that. Here is why Sample is a good pick: Chuck Pagano has worked with a lot of defensive backs and has a good history of developing raw talent. The defensive staff has done a great job with the current defensive backs. Pagano knows how to develop these types of guys. This is a weak safety class and unless the Colts are willing to trade up for Landon Collins, there aren't many options in the first 2 rounds, so a smart approach would be to take a player with a high ceiling and look to develop him. This could be more of a longterm pick at a position that needs help right now, but I don't like reaching for needs in the early rounds.
5th Round Pick -- 165th Overall Pick
Ladarius Gunter -- Cornerback -- Miami (Fla.)
Despite having solid starters, the Colts lack much depth at the cornerback position. With the three starters having some sort of injury history, the Colts would be wise to invest in depth at the cornerback position. In today's NFL, you need big,strong cornerbacks. Gunter fits that bill at 6'1, 205 pounds. Gunter impressed at the Senior Bowl, and stood his ground against quality opponents and played against tough competition in the ACC. Gunter is a backup who has good size and a good ceiling (for development). Pagano, as mentioned earlier, is a defensive back developer and could develop Gunter into a quality backup. Gunter is a depth pick at position that needs a lot of depth.
6th Round Pick -- 204th Overall Pick
Ben Beckwith -- Offensive Guard -- Mississippi State
The Colts spent some money on their offensive line this offseason, and it's time to start investing in some other depth players. Beckwith is a well built offensive guard who looks the part of an offensive guard. Beckwith won't compete for a starting job, but provides good depth along the offensive line. He isn't very agile and won't move around much, but is tough one on one and has the strength to compete with a lot of people. Again, he won't compete for a starting job, but it's nice to have some bodies along the offensive line.
6th Round Pick -- 206th Overall Pick (from Seattle Seahawks)
Chris Hackett -- Safety -- TCU
Hackett is another late round safety who deserves attention. Hackett is like the opposite of Sample. Although he doesn't have the size that Sample does (Hackett is skinny), he plays smart and he plays with his instincts. He isn't a great athlete but he gets the job done, which is important. Unless Hackett's athleticism improves, he won't be anything better than a backup, but he can at least be a reliable backup, which is important at safety (a position with plenty of different injured players over the years).
7th Round Pick -- 244th Overall Pick (from Dallas Cowboys)
Tyeler Davison -- Defensive Tackle / Defensive End -- Fresno State
Davison is a big bodied defensive lineman who has great strength. He isn't very agile, but he is big and is a problem for many one on one. Davison would be a solid backup to have and has a good ceiling. Davison is used to a 4-3 system, but that shouldn't deter them from his potential as a 5 technique defensive end. It's the 7th round, so it's time to make some project picks.
7th Round Pick -- 255th Overall Pick (Compensatory Selection)
A.J. Tarpley -- Inside Linebacker -- Stanford
When you scout inside linebackers, the most important thing I look for is instincts and reactionary movements. The best linebackers in the game, past or present, have outstanding instincts. They sniff things out better than anyone and that's what you need in an inside linebacker. In a close second would be athleticism, which we could break down into quickness and downhill speed. Tarpley isn't an elite athlete, but he shows surprisingly good instincts that jump out on tape. There are a lot of parts of his game that need to be worked on and he's probably going to be a backup, but he could be a good rotational player if developed properly.
The recurring theme throughout the mock draft was building the future. With the signings of Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Trent Cole, it's apparent that the Colts are looking to solidify the present, but those are older players who probably won't be around for more than two seasons. The Colts need to have a good long-term plan. Drafting guys like Duke Johnson and Justin Hardy ensure that the offense will have good weapons (with T.Y. Hilton and potentially Donte Moncrief) going forward. Armstead is a good immediate solution, but has the potential and ceiling where he could be developed into a monster and doesn't have to be an integral part of the defense this season. James Sample could compete for a safety spot and the rest are solid depth players, which for a team that always seems to have a lot of injuries, is important.