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Colts 2017 Draft Class: Colts place major focus on defense with their eight picks

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NCAA Football: Indiana at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts have wrapped up their 2017 draft, the first of the Chris Ballard era with the Colts.

Indy had eight picks overall, but all of them came before the fifth round was over. The Colts picked once in each the first, second, and third rounds, three times in the fourth, and twice in the fifth.

Here’s the Colts’ eight-man draft class from the 2017 NFL Draft:

1st round, 15th overall: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

2nd round, 46th overall: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

3rd round, 80th overall: Tarell Basham, EDGE, Ohio

4th round, 137th overall: Zach Banner, OT, USC

4th round, 143rd overall: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida

4th round, 144th overall: Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State

5th round, 158th overall: Nate Hairston, CB, Temple

5th round, 161st overall: Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

As you can tell, it was very much a defensive focus for the Colts in this year’s draft. They spent six of their eight picks on the defensive side of the football, including each of their first three. That’s a massive emphasis on defense and it was needed.

To put it into perspective for you, this was tied for the most defensive players the Colts have selected in the draft since the start of the Bill Polian era (1998). It’s the fifth time that there have been six defenders selected by the Colts in a draft since 1998. And with 75% of the picks being defensive, it is the highest percentage the Colts have had in a draft since 2010. Here’s the top five drafts since Polian arrived, ranked by percentage of picks used on defenders:

1. 2002 - 87.5% (7 of 8)

2. 2000 - 85.7% (6 of 7)

3. 2010 - 75% (6 of 8)

3. 2017 - 75% (6 of 8)

5. 2007 - 66.7% (6 of 9)

And with the Colts using their first three picks all on defense, that also puts this draft class in unique territory. In fact, this year is just the seventh time in the last 20 drafts that the Colts have used their first pick on defense - something that Ryan Grigson did just once in five drafts. Here’s a look at the most consecutive defenders to begin the Colts’ draft since 1998:

1. 2000 - 6

2. 2000 - 4

3. 2005 - 3

3. 2010 - 3

3. 2017 - 3

So as you can tell, the Colts had a very big defensive emphasis on the draft this year, and it’s understandable as to why that is. “We had some holes that we needed to fill,” Chris Ballard admitted Friday night. “Look, y’all watch the same games I do. We had some older players on defense that were great, that were great Colts. But it was time to move on and find some younger players.”

The Colts did just that through the draft, adding several players who will surely contribute next year. Malik Hooker could start at safety and Quincy Wilson could start at corner, while Anthony Walker could compete at inside linebacker and Tarell Basham could find himself in a situational pass rush role. And then Grover Stewart could provie competition along the defensive line. Nate Hairston is an interesting name that seems to be more of a developmental guy since he’s only played cornerback two years, but even he could find himself making the roster at the position.

Indianapolis needed defense, and they prioritized defense in the draft - adding some really good talent too. That’s exciting, but it should also be cautioned that things won’t magically be fixed overnight.

“It’s going to take time,” Ballard said. “It’s going to take time. I don’t want to put that type of just stamp and say, ‘Hey, we’ve taken these players and now it’s fixed.’ It takes time to build the defense. It takes time, a few years to fix a defense completely to get it to where you really want it.”

The defense won’t be fixed overnight, but in the draft the Colts did a nice job of adding talent and addressing some areas of need.

On the other side of the football, the Colts also did exactly what we expected them to: add an offensive lineman for competition and add a mid-round running back. The lineman, USC’s Zach Banner, is a big tackle who likely will compete for a depth spot up front. The running back, Marlon Mack from South Florida, is an exciting prospect with home run potential. Mack in particular could have a role on the offense, as he could provide a real nice complement to the backfield with Frank Gore and Robert Turbin.

Overall, this was a good draft class by the Colts, one that added good talent and addressed some areas of need. What are your thoughts on it?

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What grade do you give the Colts' 2017 draft class?

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  • 68%
    A
    (1710 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (716 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (53 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (11 votes)
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