ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to covering the NFL draft, and he released his most recent mock draft of the season this morning. In the first round, he has the Colts taking Stanford offensive lineman Andrus Peat with the 29th overall pick.
Analysis: The Colts have been active in free agency, but I still consider the offensive line a weakness they need to address in the draft. Andrew Luck is going to produce points for them, but they won't maximize what he's capable of if they don't improve their pass protection and create more of a push in the run game. Peat is by no means a complete prospect, but what he does offer is big-time upside as a player who can become a very good NFL left tackle and the ability to start elsewhere on the O-line right away. There's a chance he's off the board in the top-10 range, so he's a great value at this stage.
This isn't the first time that Kiper has projected the Colts to take an offensive lineman in the first round; in fact, in each of his last two mock drafts he had the Colts taking a lineman (T.J. Clemmings and La'El Collins). So Kiper seems to be set on the belief that the Colts need a lineman, and free agency hasn't changed that.
But when looking at the big picture, it's clear that the line isn't the Colts' biggest need right now. Actually, the projected starting offensive line of Anthony Castonzo (LT), Jack Mewhort (LG), Khaled Holmes ( C ), Todd Herremans (RG), and Gosder Cherilus (RT) doesn't look like a bad unit if they all stay healthy. The team will need some long-term answers at positions like right guard and right tackle, but they have more pressing needs right now on the defensive side of the football - such as safety, defensive line, and linebacker.
None of this is to say that Andrus Peat isn't a good player, because he absolutely is. The 6-7, 313 pound lineman started every game over the past two seasons at left tackle for Stanford and he is NFL ready, providing good run blocking and solid pass blocking and the versatility to play at other spots along the offensive line. He's a good lineman, and at pick number 29 it would be a steal to get him. But I disagree with Kiper in that I think that there are bigger needs for the Colts to address at the moment and that they can and should get a good defensive player with the 29th pick rather than a good offensive lineman.
What are your thoughts on Mel Kiper's latest mock draft?