We won't have to listen to pre-draft talk for much longer, as a week from today the fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL Draft take place. On Thursday and Friday nights, the first three rounds take place, and so we're nearing the end of the pre-draft stuff.
As the Draft gets close, every year NFL Media's Mike Mayock does a conference call with members of the media to talk about the draft, players, and teams. This year was no different, and on Friday Mayock held the conference call, during which he shared his thoughts on the Colts' top pick. To nobody's surprise, he considers the team's top two needs to be offensive line and pass rush.
"Yeah, there is no doubt," Mayock said. "As a matter of fact, they're the top of my two team needs. If they're sitting at 18, I don't think Jack Conklin's going to be there. Ryan Kelly, the center from Alabama could be. Ryan Kelly's a top-tier offensive lineman in this draft. He could play center or guard, but he's the top center in this draft. So I think Ryan Kelly could be an interesting guy at 18.
"As far as the edge rushers go," he continued, "that's one of the big debates I've been talking to is what order these edge rushers go in and what fits your defense the best? So when you look at what Indy does, who are these outside linebackers? Trent Cole is 33, [Robert] Mathis, I think, is 35. Shaq Lawson would make sense to them. Leonard Floyd would make sense for them. Don't know if either of them would be there or how they're grading those players, but both of those make sense. [Emmanuel] Ogbah could make sense. They're 48 in the second round. If a [Kamalei] Correa from Boise [State] was there in the second round, that would make sense."
A follow-up question was poised to Mayock regarding whether Taylor Decker would make sense for the Colts at 18 as well.
"Yeah, yeah," he replied, "Taylor Decker's probably going to end up going -- you look at Detroit at 16 and you guys at 18. I think there is a pretty good chance that a couple tackles will go in that range, yes, and Taylor Decker would make some sense."
Mayock's comments seem to indicate he thinks Taylor Decker could be gone by the time the Colts pick, but that it should be around the same range and so if Decker is there it would be something to consider. The other tackle that Mayock mentioned was Michigan State's Jack Conklin, who has reportedly been rising up boards recently - meaning there's a chance he's also gone by the time the Colts pick. That would leave them with Alabama center Ryan Kelly, who Mayock talked the most about for the Colts. Mayock seems to be pretty high on Kelly, and for good reason, considering that Kelly is the best center in this year's draft and likely to go in the first round. For the Colts, that would be a good pick and one embraced by many fans.
The question that the Colts must consider in the first round, though, is whether taking a lineman - like Kelly, Conklin, or Decker - would be better than taking a pass rusher - like Lawson or Floyd. That's not an easy question to answer, as the Colts really need both positions. Ultimately, it will probably come down to Ryan Grigson's best player available strategy, meaning the Colts won't bind themselves to taking a certain position in the first round. If they like one of the pass rushers that would be a good move to grab him, but with a guy like Ryan Kelly sitting there as well, they could draft a very solid offensive lineman too.