The firing of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano after six seasons sparked a press conference Monday afternoon. Most of the topics answered by general manager Chris Ballard and team owner Jim Irsay were in regards to the health of quarterback Andrew Luck and the head coaching vacancy.
Irsay, however did seemingly hint that the team is looking to pair their franchise quarterback with a game changing player on the offensive side of the ball:
“You put (Andrew) on that field, healed up, and you put an Edgerrin James - maybe that’s bigger, faster, and stronger - and let this man continue to do the job that he’s already begun to do, this is going to be a special place to be and a special place to play.”
Insert Saquon Barkley, who conveniently is the best running back in this year’s draft class and will likely be available when the Colts are on the clock in April.
Saquon Barkley is good at football. pic.twitter.com/psN9YfXAf9— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 30, 2017
The 20 year-old had 671 career attempts for 3,843 yards and 43 rushing touchdowns and currently he ranks as the #1 prospect on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s 2018 big board - and his this to say about him:
“Barkley is a lights-out athlete with tremendous balance, a great lower body and quick feet. He had 1,728 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns in the regular season, and he rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and 1,076 yards as a freshman. Barkley (5-foot-11, 230 pounds) also will help in the passing game. He had 47 catches this season after having 48 in his first two seasons at Penn State combined. I think he'll run under a 4.4 40-yard dash and test well at the combine. Barkley could be a top-five pick in 2018, and he's going to get an elite grade from me.”
Some would point out the Colts would be better suited to take an offensive lineman or a pass rusher early in the 1st round - seeing how those are the biggest needs. However, if management is able to use their large amount of cap space to bring in good veteran linemen and is able to draft well early in rounds 2-7 it could be justified for the team to select a running back.
Around the NFL, elite running backs are few and far between but they are difference makers. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s struggles were well documented during the season when Ezekiel Elliott was serving his suspension. Another example would be how well the Los Angeles Rams have played largely in part due to Todd Gurley’s MVP like play this season.
Rams running back Todd Gurley has more receiving yards over the last 5 weeks than any Browns WR has for the entire season.— Adam the Bull (@AdamtheBullFAN) December 24, 2017
This is one of the most crucial off-seasons the Colts have had in years. Outside of getting Andrew Luck healthy and filling the head coaching spot - the organization must find a difference maker at the #3 spot. According to the owner, the team may already be leaning one way.