So, the season is over. The Colts were exposed this season. Life without Andrew Luck is
pretty hard. The Colts need to adopt a draft approach that will:
- Re-enforce the offensive line
- Build up key positions on defense
- Draft players to position with older starters
All three are equally important. Andrew Luck got hit a lot this season and the Colts had to go through 5 quarterbacks this season. Getting a strong offensive line will do wonders for this team. The quarterback position is the most important positon on a team, but the offensive line is the lifeblood of an offense. A weak offensive line will hurt your offense, including your quarterback. When the Colts won the Super Bowl, they had one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL, led by Tarik Glenn and Jeff Saturday. They need to invest draft picks in the offensive line.
"Building up key positions on defense" is a relatively vague phrase, so what does it really mean? It means that the Colts will need to replace any departing free agents. They'll also need to invest a pick into weak areas that were lacking this past season. The biggest disappointment on defense was the lack of a pass rush. Robert Mathis had his games as did Trent Cole, but overall each outside linebacker was ineffective and inconsistent. The Colts need to start finding some new pass rushers to eventually replace the old guys and to help a struggling pass rush. Also, Greg Toler was picked on for most of the season, and I'd be very surprised if he were re-signed, so finding his replacement in the draft will be key.
Finally, the Colts are one of the oldest teams in the league. They have 8 starters over the age of 30. Finding young players to replace or help out those old guys will be key for the future of this team.
The draft simulation was done with FanSpeak's On the Clock Premium Simulator using the CBS ranking (Jan 9 update).
1st Round -- 18th Overall
Mackensie Alexander -- Cornerback -- Clemson
Alexander is one of the top cornerbacks in the draft and took a huge step forward this year. The Colts will most likely part ways with Greg Toler and they'll have a hole at cornerback that needs to be filled. Alexander is good value here at 18 and it fills a need for the Colts. Alexander is best in man to man situations and is very athletic. He fights for the ball and he'll win a lot of 50/50 balls. He's light on his feet and he has the qualities that you look for in elite cornerbacks. He needs to bulk up just a bit, but other than that, he is a nearly flawless cornerback. Alexander would make the Colts defense a legitimate threat. He has Revis-like potential. Most teams and scouting sites list him as the 3rd best cornerback in the draft, making a drop to 18th overall a good possibility.
2nd Round -- 48th Overall
Nick Martin -- Center -- Notre Dame
Martin is arguably the best center in the country, and a very experienced one at that. He was apart of a great offensive line at Notre Dame, and his interior blocking was crucial for their success in the running game. The Colts badly need a center, and they've needed one ever since Jeff Saturday left town. Martin would be an immediate starter for the Colts and could eventually become one of the better centers in football.
3rd Round -- 82nd Overall
Denver Kirkland -- Offensive Guard/Tackle -- Arkansas
Despite playing left tackle at Arkansas, Kirkland projects best as an offensive guard in the NFL. He was an effective left tackle in Arkansas' pro style offense and should make a seamless transition to guard. He is a bit raw in his technique, but he has a strong body and he gets a good amount of knee bend. He won't project as a tackle in the NFL as he gets beat to the corner by quick edge rushers and his kick-step isn't great. He could be an emergency backup for the team, but because of his size and physicality, he looks like a good guard in the NFL. If Kirkland has a good training camp, he would be a very good option at right guard.
4th Round -- 113th Overall
Kyler Fackrell -- Outside Linebacker -- Utah State
The Colts could use fresh blood at the edge defender position. Robert Mathis and Trent Cole are in their final years, Jonathan Newsome was invisible last season and Erik Walden is replaceable. As for Bjoern Werner, in the words of someone I heard at the Dolphins-Colts game: "Go back to Germany, Werner"! The Colts need a new edge rusher who can get to the passer. Fackrell comes from a good system, a system that Nate Orchard came from. Fackrell is a good all around edge defender. He can drop into coverage and he can cover tight ends. He has proven to be an effective pass rusher who has good pass rushing moves in his arsenal. He's good tackler who has a low missed tackles rate. He doesn't possess great speed and he has issues setting the edge at times, but the Colts need to rebuild their pass rushing group and Fackrell is a good guy to start with.
5th Round -- 143rd Overall
Donnel Pumphrey -- Running Back -- San Diego State
Pumphrey is a skinny, versatile running back who is a talented receiver out of the backfield. He makes defenders miss and he has the speed to run away from anyone. He would be a perfect 3rd down running back for the Colts and it would help preserve Frank Gore. Gore cannot be a 3 down running back at 33 years old. Pumphrey has 51 catches and over 3500 yards (6.0 yards per carry) over the past 2 seasons. Pumphrey could be a Danny Woodhead type of player that the Colts could use on key downs. Woodhead has had a positive impact wherever he has been and a player like him could add a new dimension to the Colts passing game.
7th Round -- 207th Overall
Brandon Allen -- Quarterback -- Arkansas
Allen is an experienced quarterback in a pro style offense. He took a big step forward this past season and proved to many that he could be a suitable backup in the NFL. Andrew Luck needs a good backup. Matt Hasselbeck is most likely going to retire (and is a free agent if he doesn't retire), and I can't imagine the Colts keeping around Josh Freeman and/or Ryan Lindley. Because of his experience in a pro style offense, Allen could make a seamless transition to backup quarterback. If the Colts want, they could sign a veteran (Derek Anderson?) to a one year deal to allow Allen to develop, but Allen looks like a good long-term backup in the NFL. The Colts cannot rely on 40 year olds to backup Andrew Luck anymore.
You can't hit all the targets in one draft, but a draft like this would address a lot of needs.