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Colts will be counting on Vontae Davis to step up in 2017

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One of the big needs the Colts have right now is at cornerback, and it’s an area that they’re expected to target in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Rashaan Melvin impressed last year as he wound up starting nine games (mainly because of injuries to Patrick Robinson), and right now he’d be the starter opposite of Vontae Davis. But the team could really stand to add more talent at the position, especially a young corner in the draft - like Jim Irsay suggested they need.

At this point, however, regardless of who the Colts wind up starting - whether it’s Melvin or a rookie draft pick - they’re going to need a big performance from Vontae Davis in 2017.

“We need consistent play out of Vontae,” Chuck Pagano said earlier this week, according to Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen. “We need him to be there week after week, after week. And we need him to be there for 16 weeks and play at a level that we know he can play at week after week. That’s the expectation for Vontae. He knows that.”

The Colts need Davis to return to his Pro Bowl form from 2014 and 2015, and they need him to be available for every game. Davis has actually only missed three games in the past four years combined, so he’s been reliable in actually being on the field, but he’s been banged up plenty during that time.

It’s crucial for the Colts to get that Pro Bowl level of play out of Davis in 2017, however, because the last thing they need is to have two cornerback spots that are question marks. With Melvin and/or a rookie being big contributors next year, the team will need to ensure that they don’t have to worry about the veteran on the other side of the field. It’s also a big year for Davis, however, as he’s entering the final year of his contract. He’ll be 30 by the 2018 season, so it’s possible that it could be his best chance at one more big contract. For both sides, a big 2017 season is crucial.

Even if the Colts are counting on getting a big season out of Davis in 2017, however, they’ll still need to target the position in the draft - for someone who can play opposite of Davis this year and perhaps take over for him long-term in the future. It’s a good draft class for cornerbacks, and Chuck Pagano knows that.

“This is a really good draft when it comes to secondary,” he said. “With the corners and safety prospects in this draft, you’re going to get a good player and it’ll be up to us how quickly we can develop those guys and get them on the field. There’s going to be some growing pains. But there’s great length, there’s great speed, guys with ball skills, guys with the skill set we’re looking for.”

We should expect the Colts to target a cornerback in the draft, but make no mistake: the Colts know that Vontae Davis stepping up is key to their secondary in 2017.