With the first part of the “You’re the GM” series, we made our one key free agent move. In part two of our series, the Stampede Blue staff was asked to tackle the question of just what they would do with that first overall pick. However, because mock drafts have been pretty unanimous across the board about what the Colts will be doing with their pick, I placed one restriction on this draft: it begins under the assumption that the Browns take Bradley Chubb at first overall.
Free agent signing – Andrew Norwell, Guard
Draft - If Chubb were gone, I’d trade out of pick three. Ideally, I’d trade with the Buffalo Bills for one of two trades:
Option 1 - 21, 22 and 2019 RD1 pick
Option 2 - 21, 22, 53 and 56
Outside of Chubb, I’d prefer to pick up as many high-value picks as possible because the roster needs an influx of high-quality talent.
Free agent signing – Anthony Hitchens, Inside Linebacker
Draft - Trading back to pick No. 15 with the Arizona Cardinals, selecting Marcus Davenport
Since we’re assuming Bradley Chubb is off the board, I’m going all in on the second-best pass-rusher available this April, Marcus Davenport. A perfect fit as the base defensive end in the 4-3 defense, Davenport’s combination of length, speed and athleticism make him an electrifying talent for the Colts. While you may not have heard much about him yet, Davenport will continue to rise throughout the offseason and will be a lock to go in the first round. The Colts will be lucky to have him.
Free agent signing –Justin Pugh, Zach Fulton, Jack Mewhort, Guards
Draft - With Bradley Chubb off the board at #3 in the draft, I will first look to trade back to gain additional picks. The goal of this scenario is to drop 3-7 spots and nab either Quenton Nelson or Roquan Smith. Both players offer a ton of value in the 6-10 pick range, will be immediate starters, and project to be impact players at positions of need for the Colts. If Chubb goes in the top two picks, getting a trade back partner becomes much more likely.
Assuming we are unable to net a trading partner, I select Minkah Fitzpatrick with the third overall pick. The reality in the NFL is that you cannot have enough talent in the secondary. The relationship between coverage and pass rush is symbiotic as well. The better you cover downfield, the more time your pass rushers must get to their target. Teams who were talent strong in the secondary did quite well in the playoffs.
Fitzpatrick has the attitude that would fit immediately into the Colts locker room and should help create the kind of chemistry Chris Ballard is trying to create. He also has position flexibility and can be used at pretty much any spot in the defensive backfield.
Free agent signing – Andrew Norwell, Guard
Draft - Along the same lines as the Norwell explanation; Nelson would help the offensive line and is my number one target in the draft if Bradley Chubb is off the board. Saquon Barkley would be a nice pick but he won’t have a huge impact if the offensive line is garbage. The Colts need to fix their offensive line before they use a high draft pick on a potential star running back.
Free agent signing – Paul Richardson, WR
Draft - As your new Colts GM, if we don’t trade the 3rd pick away for more picks (if Chubb’s gone, this is how I’d make up for missing out on him), I’d have to weigh the value of a player like Quenton Nelson and what he’d mean to my offensive line.
Free agent signing – Was hired as GM after free agency
Draft - So, if Bradley Chubb is off of the board for the Colts, my pick is Quenton Nelson. Next up would be defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, linebacker Roquan Smith and running back Saquon Barkley. I don’t care if “you don’t take offensive guards that high.” Nelson is arguably the best overall player in the draft and he’s an easy pick for being the safest. He is an old-school mauler whose game is impossible not to love. Nelson would also help fill a massive need for the Colts on the offensive line, one that they’ve had for years. Regardless of who the Colts’ quarterback is in 2018 (especially if it’s Andrew Luck), protection is far and beyond Priority No. 1.
Free agent signing – Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End
Draft – We have been conditioned to think that the top 5 or so picks in the draft are automatically can’t miss prospects who are significantly better than those who follow. This just isn’t always the case. This draft isn’t noted as being littered with elite talent at the top like some have been in the past. Bradley Chubb seems to be the consensus pick for the Colts, but if he is off the board, I want more picks.
The Colts have a lot of holes on their roster and they are not going to be a complete team after this offseason even if Chris Ballard crushes every single move he makes. Logically then, the thing that makes sense is to get as many picks in the early part of the draft as possible. That’s why I am trading with the Buffalo Bills. The Colts will send the Bills their 3rd overall pick in exchange for both the Bills first round picks this year, 21 and 22, as well as the Bills first round pick in 2019.
This would leave a lot of very talented players like Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry, Marcus Davenport, Orlando Brown, or Josh Jackson potentially still on the board this year and give them two picks in next year’s first round as well. For a team in need of improvement in a lot of areas, this seems like the best direction to take to me.