Yes, the Indianapolis Colts are 2-4, last in the AFC South, are without their franchise quarterback and their schedule gets more difficult in the second half of the year. However, that is not completely why I am already looking at the 2018 NFL Draft. The season isn’t over yet.
The draft fascinates and consumes me every year, and the Colts are actually in a spot right now where they’d actually be able to acquire elite talent if the draft started tomorrow. As a result, it’s time to start up my soon-to-be regular entries on my Colts 2018 NFL Draft Big Board.
Some things to remember before checking this out:
- The Colts currently hold the fourth overall draft slot. Obviously, that can and probably will change over the next 10 weeks.
- General manager Chris Ballard does not draft based on need — best player available. Sometimes these things will be compromised if rankings are close enough on the team’s draft board.
- Injury and off-field concerns are not a big issue as long as their long-term health checks out, as well as the player’s “background check”.
- The players listed have current stock near the top of the draft.
1. Saquon Barkley | Running Back | Penn State | 5-11, 223
Barkley is absolutely ridiculous. If any of you ever had a running back on Madden that you created and cranked all of their attributes up, Barkley is the real-life incarnate. With Frank Gore in the final year of his contract, the Colts are set up to welcome Marlon Mack into the fold as their RB1 in 2018. However, Barkley is as good of a running back prospect as they come. He can do everything, including the things that Mack cannot. The two of them together would make an insane pair. You don’t pass on guys like Barkley.
2. Arden Key | Edge Defender | LSU | 6-6, 238
Someone please change the record because I’m tired of talking about how the Colts need a pass-rush specialist every draft season. Jabaal Sheard and John Simon have been really good pickups for the Colts, but neither—same with Tarell Basham—are pass-rush specialists. Key is a tall, long-armed edge defender with huge upside. The Colts are almost never in range during the draft for the elite-level pass-rushers. That could change this year.
3. Harold Landry | Edge Defender | Boston College | 6-3, 250
I can already tell that Landry’s probably going to be this year’s version of Derek Barnett for me (who I loved). Like Barnett, nobody is going to fall in love with Landry’s measurables. However, the production and seamless ability to get to the quarterback cannot be denied. According to Sports-Reference.com, through 37 career games, Landry has 25.0 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss.
4. Derwin James | Defensive Back | Florida State | 6-3, 211
James is a dynamic defensive back who has experience playing in multiple spots on the defense — high safety, in the box, in the slot and outside. All teams could use that, but the Colts will especially be in the market for a player like James in 2018. Cornerbacks Vontae Davis, Rashaan Melvin and Pierre Desir are all due to hit free agency, as is defensive back Darius Butler. You can never have enough quality defensive backs, and James would fit himself into the Colts’ lineup in no time.
5. Minkah Fitzpatrick | Defensive Back | Alabama | 6-1, 201
Like James, Fitzpatrick can do just about anything in the secondary. He is also a ball-hawk (9 career interceptions) like the Colts’ first-round draft pick this year, Malik Hooker (7 collegiate interceptions). If the Colts played Fitzpatrick at corner, it would give them a pair of young, physical corners in Quincy Wilson and Fitzpatrick.
6. Quenton Nelson | Offensive Guard | Notre Dame | 6-5, 331
Offensive guards don’t often get a lot of love in the first round but when they’re good enough, people know about it. Nelson is likely to fall in line with that notion next spring. You can count on the Colts continuing to work on their offensive line in the offseason since some of their players cannot stay healthy and others haven’t developed as hoped. Oft-injured starting guard Jack Mewhort is also an impending 2018 free agent.
7. Christian Wilkins | Defensive Tackle | Clemson | 6-4, 310
The Colts’ defensive line has actually been a bright spot for them this year. However, while Grover Stewart and Hassan Ridgeway are nice, young backups, Wilkins would be an upgrade. He can provide immediate depth and then can become a starter whenever necessary. He has high-quality athleticism for his size and can move around the line. Putting interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks is always a good thing.
8. Derrius Guice | Running Back | LSU | 5-11, 212
Assuming you have seen how big of an impact rookie running back Leonard Fournette has had on the Jacksonville Jaguars, just know that there were a ton of people who said that his backup at LSU, Guice, is even better. Guice has a compact frame with power to match, but he is also explosive. While studying him, I got to thinking of how he would be an ideal replacement for Gore. Then, lo and behold, I come across Daniel Jeremiah comparing Guice to a young Gore. Just makes sense.
9. Bradley Chubb | Edge Defender | North Carolina State | 6-4, 275
At first, I take pause in listing an edge-setting defender for the Colts since they already have two starting and another that they drafted in the third round last year. However, the point is to not bypass good players, and Chubb is one. So far this year, he is showing that he very well may be a high-quality pass-rusher at the next level. He is consistently getting into opponents’ backfields and has 6.5 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss.
10. Courtland Sutton | Wide Receiver | SMU | 6-4, 216
As a precursor, just because Ryan Grigson didn’t know what he was doing when it came to wide receivers, that doesn’t mean that they’re all a bad choice in the first round. The Colts have their two “big” receivers, Donte Moncrief and Kamar Aiken, coming up on free agency in 2018. Moncrief hasn’t taken the next step and complemented T.Y. Hilton like the Colts had hoped. So, they still need a receiver with size who is capable of performing at a WR1/WR2 level. Sutton has great size and strength, decent speed, explosiveness, and the production is there.