On Tuesday, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller released a very in-depth and informative scouting notebook including a number of things he is hearing from around the league about each team's draft approach in the upcoming NFL Draft.
For the Colts, he mentioned that the Colts' "love for Alabama's [Ryan] Kelly is real," and we looked at that yesterday (summary: this is good news and no surprise). Something else that Miller mentioned that is worth discussing more in-depth, however, was what Miller said after that: "Sources on the coaching staff tell me they're not set on taking an offensive tackle at any point in this draft and instead expect to go center and edge-rusher in some order with the first two picks."
If what Miller reports is true, there will be many disappointed "analysts" who have been predicting an offensive tackle to the Colts for the past few months in mock drafts (SB Nation's Adam Stites has kept a log surveying a number of different mock drafts, and a tackle has been the most popular pick all throughout the process for the majority of mock drafts), though it would be absolutely no surprise and no different than what the Colts have said this offseason. The Colts have very high hopes for Denzelle Good, and while that doesn't mean they can't or won't take a tackle, it means that it's less likely and that the Colts seem to be ok addressing the interior of the line while letting Good get a shot at right tackle. That would be the case if they drafted Ryan Kelly, as it would very much bolster the interior of the line and allow Good the chance to compete at tackle to see what he could do. Most "analysts" have been stuck on the Colts adding help at tackle (with some suggesting at left tackle, where the team has Anthony Castonzo), moving Jack Mewhort back to guard (where he has been since week three of last year), or simply needing offensive line help (though the bigger needs are on the interior), whereas few people have realized the center position as the biggest need up front (credit to SB Nation's Stephen Reed for making a pick accordingly in the SB Nation Mock Draft before the recent Kelly hype).
It's also no secret that the Colts' top two needs are their interior offensive line and their pass rush, so the fact that sources with the coaching staff have told Miller that center and edge rusher are expected to be the top two picks isn't a surprise. Some may wonder how this fits in with Ryan Grigson's comments about taking the best player available regardless of position, but I don't think it contradicts it at all. Grigson realizes the needs along the offensive line and at pass rush, so he will almost certainly look to address both - which could inflate the way they rate some prospects over others. Furthermore, what Miller is reporting is what would be ideal for the Colts - to grab a center and a pass rusher in the first two rounds. It is also important to note that it sounds like Miller talked with coaches, and what the coaches want can sometimes not turn out to actually be the pick (for example, position coaches might like someone but Grigson takes another guy as the BPA). In other words, this is what the Colts surely would like to happen, but it's no guarantee to actually turn out that way as it depends on who is there. So the expectation of taking a center and edge rusher in the first two rounds doesn't contradict with the best player available approach but instead just shows us an inside look into the Colts' hopes as they approach the draft.
If things turn out that way, it would be very good news for the Colts. If there is a center and an edge rusher that they like well enough to take in the first and second rounds, the hope would be that both would be good enough to be contributors in 2016 and beyond and that would be a huge boost to the team. Of course, if that happens, there will be plenty of upset "analysts" and wrong mock drafts, but it would likely be a good thing for the Colts.