Since the end of the collegiate football season the top selections at the third-overall pick for the Indianapolis Colts have been very similar among national mocks. There hasn’t been much wavering as new ones are released and I don’t really expect there to be much more as the process continues.
Bradley Chubb has been the clear favorite for the Colts to grab, and it isn’t really close for the most part. Occasionally we see Saquon Barkley as the selection, and even less often, Minkah Fitzpatrick gets the nod to the Colts.
There’s a very good reason for the lack of diversity with the Colts’ pick as Chubb is an insanely talented prospect at perhaps the largest position of need. With all of that said, the Colts do have other serious needs in other positions, and we almost always get a surprise in the top-5 of each year’s draft.
For that very reason, as well as the understanding that we couldn’t possibly know what Chris Ballard’s board looks like, today we’re going to take a look at some possible surprise picks if the Colts were to stay at No. 3 and pass on the consensus picks.
Marcus Davenport | Edge/DE | UTSA
Davenport has been getting a lot of publicity lately, but it hasn’t exactly been the best kind of noise at this point in the game. On one hand, he was surprising scouts/analysts alike due to his poor practice performances early in the week of the Senior Bowl.
Conversely, his practices improved and he looked every bit of the prospect onlookers were hoping to see from the jump and showed off his dominance in the game. His frame is something that may need to fill out in the NFL at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, but his quickness and potential to develop as an elite pass rusher can’t be denied. Most see Chubb as the complete package, NFL-ready upon being drafted and I’m not one who will argue against that.
But, it’s reasonable to think that Ballard and his group of scouts see an immediate impact player in Davenport who could achieve a higher ceiling than someone like a Chubb or another pass rusher.
Denzel Ward | CB | Ohio State
While the overall template for cornerbacks in the league isn’t exactly changing, the Colts defensive scheme is. While their play on the backend may still implement a healthy dose of press-man coverage, their isn’t as much of a focus on a 6-foot requisite height if the player possesses the right physicality and ball skills to offset his body type.
Ward has those mitigating assets in his arsenal. While many who would argue for Fitzpatrick in this spot due to his versatility in the secondary, questions still linger about how effective he would be as an boundary corner. Ward is without question the top cornerback in this class. Despite his 5-foot-10 frame, his ability to lock up receivers, willingness to be physical in run support and ability to run the route for the receivers is something the Colts desperately need as their free agency strategy is yet to be known.
Attempting to finish off what the Colts began in last year’s draft with their first two picks would go a long way towards polishing up their secondary. Again, we don’t know what Ballard sees in these prospects, but cornerback would certainly be a surprise pick regardless of the player.
Tremaine Edmunds | LB | Virginia Tech
Okay, so my love for Edmunds has been obvious since the very first time I watched him. While I wouldn’t blink an eye if he was the pick at 3, most people don’t see him as I do. Edmunds is so young (19) and has an insane body type (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) for a guy who has played inside as a linebacker.
My view of him, largely in part to his size, athleticism and coverage ability, is that of an edge rusher which doesn’t link up with how most draft analysts see him. While he has the ability to play inside, and play it well, I believe his best fit there is in sub package situations.
He can effectively take on, both, interior linemen and tackles on the edge and ultimately work as an interchangeable piece in a 4-3 base similarly to what he ran in college. This is what makes him so attractive to me. Some have him very high on their boards while others have him just inside of their top 15-20.
I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who sees this in Edmunds, and if Ballard agrees in some way with how well he could fit at multiple positions, grabbing Edmunds over Chubb could be the early shocker in the draft.
Quenton Nelson | Guard | Notre Dame
There’s not much more that I could tell you about how important it is to protect Andrew Luck moving forward if you don’t already get it. Draft analysts will tell you that Nelson is a top-5 prospect in this class, but also tell you that guards don’t hold the value to be picked at third-overall.
For me, that means absolutely nothing. Not in this case anyhow.
Nelson is hands down the best interior lineman in this draft. His ability to power through defenders, to pass off/take on assignments within a complex blitz with ease and add in his hand- and footwork makes him plenty valuable for me.
The Colts have so many question marks along their line especially at guard, and with so much of the pressure they’ve allowed coming through the interior of the line, Nelson would make a ton of sense. Offensive linemen aren’t often selected in the top-5 of the draft, but just because that’s where they were drafted doesn’t mean anything either.
Lane Johnson, Brandon Scherff, Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin were all linemen picked inside the top-10 in recent years, and though they’re tackles as opposed to guards, top talent is top talent and line play recently in the league has been disgusting. The Dallas Cowboys picked Zach Martin at No. 16 overall in 2014 — would you pass that up if you needed a guard and were picking inside the top-10? Not me, gimme that.
Bottom line is, maybe guards aren’t the sexiest pick for this high of a draft slot, but you have to consider that your No. 1 overall pick in 2012 doesn’t play if he’s continuing to get broken in half. Some would say that the No. 1 overall pick — being a quarterback and all — is pretty valuable. Hmm.. interesting concept.