The NFL Draft is tomorrow (thankfully), but even though it is getting very close teams are still working up to the last-minute trying to figure out their draft board.
For the Indianapolis Colts, that means taking a prospect out to dinner on Tuesday night. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano had dinner with Illinois defensive lineman Jihad Ward last night.
Ward (6-5, 297 pounds) is a very interesting candidate, and evaluations on him are pretty spread out. There are some who think he's a first round talent, and others who think he is enough of a developmental prospect to push him down the board. It sounds like he could get first round looks, however, as Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm even said this morning that he hears Jihad Ward will go in the top 20. After playing at a Junior College, Ward transferred to Illinois where he played two seasons, starting 25 games and recording 104 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, and three passes broken up. He was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in each of his two seasons at Illinois. One of the things that makes Ward an interesting developmental prospect is that he started out his college career playing wide receiver and safety before moving to the defensive line, meaning that he likely still has plenty of room to grow in learning to use his size and play up front.
In the Colts' system, he would likely play a 3-4 defensive end. That's not exactly a huge need, as the Colts have guys like Henry Anderson, Kendall Langford, and Arthur Jones at the spot. They could always stand to address the defensive line, but taking a developmental guy at the position in the first round likely wouldn't be received too well. This close to the draft, it's very possible that this could be nothing more than a smokescreen, but it's interesting to note nonetheless.