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Mocking the Draft: Players the Colts Should Target

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NFL: 2015 NFL Draft Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

After months of college film and highlight videos, a historically active free agency for the Colts, and more mock drafts than any of us care to count, we have finally made it. Tomorrow night the NFL Draft will kick off and by Saturday night we will know much more about the 2017 Indianapolis Colts.

Rather than piece together another mock draft, of which I’ve completed dozens, I think it makes more sense to break down the players who I have had the opportunity to take a closer look at and consider who can help make the Colts a better football team. It’s almost impossible to know exactly who will be available at each pick so I will break down the draft by position, include what I project a players value to be worth by draft round, and try to generate a makeshift draft board.

There is no way to scout most players who are entering their names for consideration in the draft tomorrow. I will only have a handful of small school players. Fortunately for me, the Colts currently only have picks in the first five rounds and so most of the players I’ll mention are ones who I believe bring value in that somewhat smaller group of picks.


Key Prospects by Position and Round Value

Running Back

ROUND 1: Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffrey
ROUND 2: Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Samaje Perine
ROUND 3: Marlon Mack, Brian Hill, James Conner
ROUND 4: Jamaal Williams, Wayne Gallman
ROUND 5: Tarik Cohen, Donnel Pumphrey

After marquee rushers go off of the board, and I think they might not go as fast as a lot of people do, there will likely be some very high value options late in the draft.

Unless there is a chance to steal a guy with the second pick, I don’t foresee the Colts selecting a running back in the first two rounds absent a trade back. I think Ballard will actively seek trade partners and will be open to trading down at least once.

Guys you could find in the third round and who would be immediate impact players are: Kareem Hunt and Samaje Perine. In the fourth, I expect that Brian Hill and James Conner to still be on the board. All should make a year-one impact.

Tight End

ROUND 1: OJ Howard, David Njoku
ROUND 2: Evan Engram, Gerald Everett
ROUND 3: Bucky Hodges, Jake Butt, Jonnu Smith, George Kittle
ROUND 4: Jeremy Sprinkle

While I think a player like OJ Howard would be tempting if he fell to 15, he is exactly the kind of player I would rather leverage to trade back in the draft. I think a tight end is a real possibility for the Colts and I think the best value is in the late-middle rounds. My two favorites to potentially steal with one of our late picks are Jonnu Smith and Jeremy Sprinkle.

Offensive Line

ROUND 1: Forrest Lamp, Ryan Ramczyk
ROUND 2: Dan Feeney

As I mentioned in the pre-draft series covering the offensive line, I don’t see much value in adding mid-to-late round offensive linemen in this draft. This is a weak offensive line draft and I feel pretty comfortable with the Colts current depth.

The only way I really see offensive lineman as a strong option is if we pick a top prospect in the first two rounds. That prospect should be slated to be our immediate starter at right guard. These are the only three I find attractive.

Ideally, we trade out of the 15th pick and add an extra couple of picks in the top 100. If we do that, I’m fine going offensive line closer to the bottom of the first round. For me, Lamp is the only prospect I would be okay taking at 15 and that is a stretch.

Defensive Line

ROUND 1: Jonathan Allen, Malik McDowell
ROUND 2: Caleb Brantley, Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, Demarcus Walker
ROUND 3: Dalvin Tomlinson
ROUND 4: Eddie Vanderdoes, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Jaleel Johnson, Elijah Qualls
ROUND 5: Carlos Watkins, Jarron Jones
UDFA: Steve Tu’ikolovatu, Ryan Glasgow

This group of defensive linemen is rather intriguing. However, I feel pretty good with our current starters and depth. As a result, I don’t see the Colts adding to the defensive line through the draft unless they have a steal on their hands.

An example would be Allen dropping to 15 or trading to the late first and McDowell slipping down the board. Otherwise, Adams falling to the Colts in the third or Tomlinson in the fourth are my favorite options for adding to the defensive line.

Pass Rush

ROUND 1: Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Takkarist McKinley, Derek Barnett
ROUND 2: Charles Harris, TJ Watt, Tim Williams, Taco Charlton
ROUND 3: Tyus Bowser, Jordan Willis, Ryan Anderson, Carl Lawson, Tarrell Basham
ROUND 4: Ejuan Price

I believe the word “rush end” is too loosely thrown around. There is a deep group players on the defensive line and at linebacker who have the chance to add real value for a team who is wanting to put pressure on the quarterback. However, I believe there is a very small group of players who project to potentially be marquee pass rush talents in the NFL from a rush linebacker position — which is what the Colts lack most.

The true difference makers? Takkarist McKinley, Darek Barnett, Charles Harris, Tim Williams, and maybe TJ Watt. (Forget Garrett — it’s not happening)

When I say this, understand that I’m not talking about who has the most value because they can fill multiple roles well. I’m saying the true pass rush potential juggernauts to me are the four I listed above — with Watt thrown in due to his brother’s development setting a precedent.

My favorite steal pick is Ejuan Price. I suspect he goes higher than people think he will but if he doesn’t, I’d have no trouble taking him in the fourth or fifth round if other rushers didn’t make it to our early picks.

Inside Linebacker

ROUND 1: Reuben Foster, Haasan Reddick
ROUND 2: Raekwon McMillan, Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham
ROUND 3: Alex Anzalone, Anthony Walker Jr.
ROUND 4: Kendell Beckwith, Elijah Lee, Connor Harris

We need to add an inside linebacker in this draft. It is up there with corner and pass rusher as the team’s biggest needs. I’ve listed the players based upon how much of an impact I believe they could have on the team in order above.

The potential steal is Kendell Beckwith. I take a flyer on him in the fourth or fifth if he falls due to medical concerns. If he gets and stays healthy, he can be a big time impact player at inside linebacker.

Cornerbacks

ROUND 1: Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley , Kevin King, Quincy Wilson
ROUND 2: Marlon Humphrey, Chidobe Awuzie, Adoree’ Jackson, Tre’Davious White, Sidney Jones
ROUND 3: Fabian Moreau, Teez Tabor, Cordrea Tankersley
ROUND 4: Ahkello Witherspoon, Jourdan Lewis, Cameron Sutton, Shaquill Griffin, Corn Elder, Howard Wilson

This might be my favorite group in the draft. I would personally get two cornerbacks in this draft because more than any other position, I think there will be solid value well into the middle rounds.

My favorite early round corners for the Colts are Gereon Conley and Kevin King. My two steal candidates are Sidney Jones in the second and Jourdan Lewis in the fourth. Unlike every other group on this page, I’d be happy adding any of the players on this list.

Safeties

ROUND 1: Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker
ROUND 2: Budda Baker, Jabrill Peppers
ROUND 3: Josh Jones, Obi Melifonwu
ROUND 4: Desmond King, John Johnson, Eddie Jackson

There is a lot of talk about a very deep safety class. I suppose it must be true. Still, for me I don’t see much value in adding a player to this position unless it is someone who will come in and make an immediate impact. I think all of the players on this list will do that.

Jamal Adams might be the best player in the draft, iso I don’t think there is any chance he falls to us. After him, my favorite players are Melifonwu in the third and Johnson or King in the fourth.


MY COLTS BIG BOARD

TEAM NEEDS: 1) Cornerback, 2) Pass Rush, 3) Inside Linebacker, 4) Running Back, 5) Safety, 6) Offensive Line, 7) Tight End, 8) Defensive Line, 9) Wide Receiver, 10) Punter, 11) Quarterback

S Jamal Adams LSU
DE Myles Garrett Texas A&M
DE Solomon Thomas Stanford
DL Jonathan Allen Alabama
RB Leonard Fournette LSU
S Malik Hooker Ohio State
CB Marshon Lattimore Ohio State
ILB Reuben Foster Alabama
ROLB Takkarist McKinley UCLA
TE OJ Howard Alabama
DE Derek Barnett Tennessee
DL Malik McDowell Michigan State
G Forrest Lamp Western Kentucky
LB Haasan Reddick Temple
RB Dalvin Cook Florida State
CB Gareon Conley Ohio State
CB Kevin King Washington
ROLB Charles Harris Missouri
T/G Ryan Ramczyk Wisconsin
CB Quincy Wilson Florida
TE David Njoku Miami
CB Marlon Humphrey Alabama
RB Joe Mixon Oklahoma
ROLB Tim Williams Alabama
ILB Raekwon McMillan Ohio State
LB TJ Watt Wisconsin
G Dan Feeney Indiana
RB Christian McCaffrey Stanford
CB Chidobe Awuzie Colorado
S Budda Baker Washington
ILB Jarrad Davis Florida
S/LB Jabrill Peppers Michigan
DE Taco Charlton Michigan
TE Evan Engram Mississippi
CB Adoree’ Jackson USC
LB Zach Cunningham Vanderbilt
CB Tre’Davious White LSU
RB Alvin Kamara Tennessee
DL Caleb Brantley Florida
CB Sidney Jones Washington
DL Chris Wormley Michigan
DL Montravius Adams Auburn
RB Kareem Hunt Toledo
RB Samaje Perine Oklahoma
DL Demarcus Walker Florida State
TE Gerald Everett South Alabama
DE Jordan Willis Kansas State
CB Teez Tabor Florida
CB Cordrea Tankersley Clemson
LB Tyus Bowser Houston
LB Ryan Anderson Alabama
RB Marlon Mack Southern Florida
DL Dalvin Tomlinson Alabama
TE Bucky Hodges Virginia Tech
DE Carl Lawson Auburn
RB Brian Hill Wyoming
S Josh Jones North Carolina State
CB Fabian Moreau UCLA
TE Jake Butt Michigan
S Obi Melifonwu Connecticut
ILB Alex Anzalone Florida
RB James Conner Pittsburgh
DE Tarrell Basham Ohio
ILB Anthony Walker Jr. Northwestern
TE Jonnu Smith Florida International
TE George Kittle Iowa
CB Jourdan Lewis Michigan
CB Cameron Sutton Tennessee
DB Desmond King Iowa
S John Johnson Boston College
TE Jeremy Sprinkle Arkansas
CB Ahkello Witherspoon Colorado
CB Shaquill Griffin Central Florida
CB Corn Elder Miami
ILB Kendell Beckwith LSU
CB Howard Wilson Houston
RB Jamaal Williams BYU
S Eddie Jackson Alabama
LB Elijah Lee Kansas State
ROLB Ejuan Price Pittsburgh
RB Wayne Gallman Clemson
DL Eddie Vanderdoes UCLA
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon Villanova
DL Jaleel Johnson Iowa
DL Elijah Qualls Washington
ILB Connor Harris Lindenwood
DL Carlos Watkins Clemson
DL Jarron Jones Notre Dame
RB Tarik Cohen North Carolina A&T
RB Donnel Pumphrey San Diego State
DL Steve Tu’ikolovatu USC
DL Ryan Glasgow Michigan