Draft Week is finally here! Although the information-gathering phase is never complete, I’m ready to put out my final seven-round Indianapolis Colts mock draft of the year.
- This mock blends the Colts’ needs as well as a best player available approach, plus the fact that the Colts have shown interest in many of these players.
- For the sake of not making things murkier, I have not projected trades (although I think they’re likely to happen for the Colts at some point). Also, teams always overpay when they’re trading up to draft a quarterback, so it makes the draft value chart more of an “at least” guideline. With teams wanting to move up to where the Colts are selecting, the Colts have identified eight non-quarterbacks who they feel are premium players, and they’re not going to trade far enough down to where they cannot get at least one of them. If you consider four quarterbacks go near the top, then it means the Colts probably won’t be going down any farther than the Buffalo Bills’ selection at No. 12, if the Colts trade down.
- Colts team needs: Pass rush | Offensive line competition | Off-ball linebackers | Cornerback competition | Potential starting wide receiver | Capable RB1/RB2
To help explain how I got to the Colts’ top selection, here is how I see the picks in front of them unfolding:
- Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- New York Giants — Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
- New York Jets — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
- Cleveland Browns — Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
- Denver Broncos — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
With the sixth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select...
Colts 2018 Mock Draft
|Round 1: Pick 6 (from NYJ)||Roquan Smith||Linebacker||Georgia|
|Round 2: Pick 36||Will Hernandez||Offensive Guard||UTEP|
|Round 2: Pick 37 (from NYJ)||Ronald Jones||Running Back||USC|
|Round 2: Pick 49 (from NYJ)||Kemoko Turay||Defensive End||Rutgers|
|Round 3: Pick 67||DaeSean Hamilton||Wide Receiver||Penn State|
|Round 4: Pick 104||Genard Avery||Linebacker||Memphis|
|Round 5: Pick 140||Brandon Parker||Offensive Tackle||North Carolina A&T|
|Round 6: Pick 178||Tremon Smith||Cornerback||Central Arkansas|
|Round 7: Pick 221||McKay Murphy||Defensive Tackle||Weber State|
- Pick 1:6 | Roquan Smith — Smith has to be among the Colts’ eight premium players. He is a rangy defender with excellent movement skills and can play every down for the Colts. His ability to read and react, then get to the ball quickly will be invaluable to this new defense. I can’t imagine a more perfect linebacker fit in this draft for the Colts’ new defense than Smith.
- Pick 2:36 | Will Hernandez — I passed on Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in this scenario. Hernandez isn’t the same player that Nelson is, but the group of top interior linemen is rather deep this year, allowing the Colts to get a quality lineman later and invest in a more impactful position like linebacker first. With this pick, the Colts get a big boost to the run game between the tackles as well as someone to help keep pressure out of the quarterback’s face.
- Pick 2:37 | Ronald Jones — The Colts have kicked the tires on some of the top running backs in this class, Jones included. Many have said that Jones is too similar to current Colts tailback Marlon Mack to pick Jones, but Jones is already a more polished pro-style runner and can run between the tackles. He also has complete three-down ability, as he catches the ball well and is already far along as a pass protector.
- Pick 2:49 | Kemoko Turay — Turay is the type of player the Colts need on the edge, as he is a pass-rush specialist. He is most often compared to Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who was much more of a pass rusher than a run defender coming out of the 2016 draft. Ngakoue has since proven to be an absolute menace for opponents and would likely go in the first round if his draft was re-done. The point is, if you’ve found a guy who rushes the passer at a high level, don’t let run defense be such a red flag that you don’t take him. Turay could be a designated pass rusher for the Colts as a rookie, mixed in with Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and Tarell Basham.
- Pick 3:67 | DaeSean Hamilton — The Colts have receivers that can exploit defenses downfield, but they need a couple more guys who can pick defenses apart closer to the sticks and move the chains. Hamilton is a technician and one of the draft’s best route runners. Adding a player like him with Ryan Grant would give T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers free reign to push defenses downfield.
- Pick 4:104 | Genard Avery — Avery is an interesting prospect because some teams view him as a full-time edge defender while others see an off-ball linebacker. The Colts could add him to the linebacking corps with the newly-acquired Smith, and they could occasionally send Avery on blitzes on late passing downs. Adding the pair of Smith and Avery to the new defense would give it an immediate boost, upgrading the unit’s speed and intensity.
- Pick 5:140 | Brandon Parker — The Colts have shown a pretty good amount of interest in Parker, meeting with him during his pro day and then having lunch with him afterward. He is a very large prospect (6-7, 314) who the Colts could use to fill the right tackle spot. He’ll have some competition between Denzelle Good, Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark, but Parker’s length and other physical/athletic tools are worth taking a shot on.
- Pick 6:178 | Tremon Smith — The Colts need more competition at cornerback, and Smith is a great small-school prospect to take a chance on to meet that need. He has the adequate length, speed, quickness and ball skills that GM Chris Ballard covets in his cornerbacks. The Colts already have the assets in place in Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir, Kenneth Acker and Kenny Moore to be able to allow Smith to grow into a quality outside corner.
- Pick 7: 221 | McKay Murphy — Murphy is a player I’ve seen linked to the Colts several times, and I’ve even been told personally that the Colts are extremely interested in him. He is a highly athletic interior defender prospect, running a 4.81 forty at nearly 300 pounds with the capability of reaching 40 reps of 225 on the bench. The Colts are looking for speed and athleticism out of their defense, and Murphy fits the bill. Other teams are even entertaining the thought of him at fullback, tight end or offensive line.
Why would there be anything I dislike about a mock that I made? Because I want this to be more of a realistic exercise than a dream scenario. For the most part, when teams draft best player available, it leaves out positions you would have thought they would address, or at least when you thought they would address them.
- Unless the pick is Derrius Guice sliding to the top of the second round, I would prefer the Colts wait a little bit to draft a running back. It’s not that I don’t love some of the backs in this class, but I want to see Mack in the new offense. However, I understand at the same time that he hasn’t shown enough for the Colts not to draft another player who may be superior. Guys like Guice, Jones and Sony Michel could be too good to pass up.
- Two thoughts on the offensive line. First, I don’t think it’s as big of a priority to the team as it is to fans. Scheme can fix a lot of the issues they’ve experienced, as new head coach Frank Reich plans to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands faster, putting less stress on the line. It’s common sense to utilize more succinct routes and to get the ball out quickly if your line isn’t up to snuff. However, with that said, Ballard and Co. are always looking to upgrade the entire roster — especially areas of weakness — which the line can be considered to be. It would be wise to upgrade the competition at guard and right tackle.
- With Ballard declaring Simon to be a defensive end, it puts Sheard, Basham, Simon and maybe even Denico Autry and Henry Anderson in the rotation on the edge. They absolutely should add quality draft picks to the group if they’re there, but I don’t think they’re going to force it or overdraft a guy just to fill a need. I would have liked to take an edge rusher before No. 49, but that’s just how it worked out.
- Another thought after Ballard declared Simon a defensive end was that it now puts more of an emphasis on the need for linebackers. I’ve had Simon penciled in as the starting SAM linebacker all offseason, so now we have spots to fill for the starting MIKE, WILL and SAM. Some of the guys already on the roster (namely Anthony Walker, Najee Goode and Jeremiah George) could wind up starting, but I have zero doubt that the Colts intend to find starters in the draft.
- I would have liked to add a corner earlier who would have a chance to start right off the bat (for example, if Isaiah Oliver, Jaire Alexander, Mike Hughes or Carlton Davis were available in the second). Having the relative depth that the Colts already have will afford them the opportunity to pick someone who has starting capability but may need time to develop behind the main group.
- I also wouldn’t mind addressing the defensive tackle spot earlier. There are several players throughout the draft who could supply an interior pass rush from the three-tech spot, so it could be addressed at any time.
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