One of the fundamental things teams must realize in the NFL Draft is that they cannot draft a player solely because he fits a position of need. Most teams employ a modified best player available approach in which they’ll go after the best player on their board at one of their areas of needs, but sometimes teams find themselves in a situation where the guys at their position of need would be terrible value at their pick.
That creates some problems, and the draft never goes exactly as teams would hope. But for the Colts this year, it’s a very good draft class - primarily because the draft is strongest at the Colts’ areas of need.
What’s the biggest need for Indianapolis? An overwhelming majority of people would agree that it’s at EDGE rusher. Luckily for the Colts, this is a very strong EDGE draft class. According to the MMQB’s Peter King, NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock said that he thinks there could be a record number of EDGE guys taken early this year. Wrote King, “It’s not surprising to say seven or eight defensive linemen could go in the first round. But seven or eight pass-rushers in the first round? That’s a great class.”
Another need that people would identify for the Colts is at cornerback. Luckily for the Colts, Mayock said that it’s the best defensive back class he’s seen in a decade. The Colts have holes all over their roster, but particularly on the defensive side of the football, and this is a very strong defensive draft class.
“This is as good and as deep a class as I’ve seen in a draft in several years—with the exception of quarterback and offensive line,” Mayock said. “Running backs and tight ends, top end and depth are outstanding. Tight ends—I haven’t seen a group like this in years. Wide receivers, very good. Defensively, it’s unbelievable. The edge rushers … we haven’t seen a group like this in a long, long time. You’ll be able to get a starting edge rusher in the fourth round that last year or most drafts you’d compare to an edge rusher in the second round. Cornerbacks and safeties, it’s the best I’ve seen in 10 years at least.”
Mayock isn’t alone in that assessment, either. Former NFL GM and current analyst Charley Casserly also tweeted over the weekend about how strong this defensive draft class is.
I have never seen a Draft this deep in defensive players in the 1st two rounds especially CB's and pass rushers @nflnetwork— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) February 26, 2017
The biggest needs for the Colts are obviously on defense, but if there was an offensive need that would be up there it’d probably be the running back position, where the Colts need to be looking for the long-term replacement for Frank Gore. In that regard, there’s even more good news for the Colts: this is a fantastic running back class, too.
“There are five backs this year that you can give a first-round grade, and the average number of backs to go in the first round in the last five years is 1.2,” Mayock said. And if you’ll remember back over a week ago, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller spoke with an anonymous scout who called this year’s running back class “historic.”
So let’s recap: if you were to list the Colts’ top four needs, odds are most Colts fans would have some combination of pass rusher, inside linebacker, cornerback, and running back (with some having offensive line in there too). This year’s draft seems to be very, very strong at pass rusher, cornerback, and running back. Even inside linebacker has some nice prospects, and this year’s draft is a terrific defensive one. In other words: the Colts are set up really, really well to have the chance to address some of their biggest needs this year in the draft - and without even needing to force it, either. That’s good news for Chris Ballard and the Colts.