The 2016 NFL Draft is TONIGHT! After months of waiting and speculating, we will actually find out who the Colts take in the first round of the draft today with the 18th overall pick.
To prepare for that, some of our writers sent in their pick for the Colts' first round pick, and the results shouldn't surprise you too much: all four picks were an offensive lineman. Some went with who they think the Colts Colts will take, while others looked at who they think the Colts should take, while for others it was probably the same pick for both. The bottom line is simple: the Colts need help along their offensive line (among other areas), and our writers' picks reflected that.
Let's take a look at what they had to say:
Ben Lamers: Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama
At #18 I've got the Colts going with Ryan Kelly, Center, from Alabama. I do believe that Grigson will opt to shore up the line, offense or defense. I have a hard time believing, though, that he moves on a tackle (like Decker). Ever since the departure of Jeff Saturday the team has been starved for a center and Kelly should provide a long term answer moving forward.
Andrew Aziz: Taylor Decker, tackle, Ohio State
Who I think the Colts should take and who I expect them to take are two very different things. The Colts have made it a point to focus on the offensive line and protecting Andrew Luck. Using their 1st round pick on an offensive lineman would be a shock to no one. I do not feel that Ronnie Stanley or Laremy Tunsil will be around when the Colts are picking and from what I've read and seen, it looks like Conklin is above Decker on teams' boards. Conklin has been linked to many teams between 9 and 14 (especially Miami), so I don't think he'll be around when the Colts are picking. That leaves Taylor Decker, who many would consider the 4th best offensive tackle on the board. There seems to be a strong chance that Decker will be on the board when the 18th pick comes around.
Decker is a mammoth of a man and when you get guys that big, they usually have issues with knee bend and anchoring. That is not the case with Taylor Decker, who has good lower body technique and is quick out of his stance. He's as strong as an ox and is great versus bull rushes. While he isn't the greatest athlete, he'll be a good fit on the right side of the Colts' line in their man blocking system. This pick fills a big need on the Colts and it add a much needed piece to the right side of the offensive line.
Stephen Reed: Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama
Anyone But a RT - Any Position That's Not RT - Any School
Ha! Ok so here's my real pick.
Ryan Kelly - Center - Alabama
Assuming DE/OLB Shaq Lawson and CB Vernon Hargreaves are off the board at this point, the most logical choice would be Ryan Kelly and not an OT. Kelly is the consensus top Center in this draft and many analysts rank him in the Top 25 prospects overall so taking him at 18 is not a reach. Side note, I truly don't understand the national media's obsession with mocking an OT to the Colts at 18. It doesn't make sense on so many levels but the most annoyingly consistent theory I've heard is it allows the Colts to move Jack Mewhort inside... Come on Man! Mewhort's been inside for the majority of last year. But I digress...
Kelly is a phenomenal prospect and is everything you could ever wish for in a center. He's intelligent and tough. Kelly keeps his head on a swivel so stunts and twists don't mix him up in pass protection. He's also great at getting to the second level and taking the correct angles to eliminate potential tacklers. Kelly was the QB of the offensive line at Alabama and would fill a similar role for the Colts. One of the biggest positives about Kelly is he did not get penalized once last season and gave up only one sack. That means Andrew Luck will finally have a reliable center in front of him that will stop the inside pressure in his face. In case you weren't aware, inside pressure is one of the toughest things for a QB to deal with. If Luck finally feels more comfortable in the pocket then he may not feel the need to scramble nearly as often and won't take that unnecessary hit.
Yes, taking a center in Round 1 isn't sexy and Kelly may not be the best player available but if it keeps the best player on the team more comfortable, then it's a player I'd be happy taking.
Josh Wilson: Ryan Kelly, center, Alabama
I'll be honest: I went back and forth with this pick, and after seeing a couple of our other writers make the same prediction, I felt like changing it. But here's the reality: I would be perfectly fine with either Ryan Kelly or Noah Spence with this pick. Perfectly fine. I have made no secret about the fact that I think the Colts' biggest need is at pass rush, and I really like Noah Spence's talent. But I also really like Ryan Kelly, and I think that's the most likely pick for the Colts - which is why I ultimately went with him. I think Kelly is a guy who can be a long-term starter and give the team reliable play moving forward, even having the potential of making some Pro Bowls along the way. He's a guy who is pro-ready and could slide in and start right away for the Colts at the biggest area of need along their offensive line. My one hesitation with making this pick would be waiting to grab a pass rusher, and so that position would be my overwhelming focus in the second round, but I think that Kelly is the safe pick at this spot and would be a huge addition to the Colts. Adding help in the middle of the line would help keep the pressure off of Andrew Luck and would open up lanes for the running game, and adding a player like Kelly at center should help the rest of the line as well. There are other options to consider here (like Noah Spence), but the Colts can't go wrong with grabbing Kelly, and while some might not like taking a center that early, it's worth it if the guy can be a reliable long-term starter. I think Kelly can be, so I think the pick would be a very good one.
Our writers have spoken, now it's your turn: who do you pick for the Colts in the first round?