I’ll start by acknowledging that teams don’t draft based solely off of need, and that the best player available (at positions of reason) is typically the trump card on draft boards. There are also position groups that teams will always supplement through the draft because they feel it should be a strength of their entire roster, whether they have needs there or not.
That is the scenario we’ll explore today, as the Indianapolis Colts stare at three of the first 17 picks in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft tonight (pick Nos. 36, 37 and 49). What position groups can the Colts make make rock solid with a couple of these second-round picks?
Before the draft, the Colts had two spots on the offensive line locked down (left tackle and center). There are players on the roster capable of winning another spot or two, but not to the point where the Colts wouldn’t try to upgrade. Because of that, they selected Quenton Nelson at No. 6 last night, who will play the left side (probably) at guard. However, if the Colts really wanted to make sure they reinforce the offensive line as much as possible, they have options:
James Daniels, Will Hernandez or Austin Corbett could be picked to fill the guard spot on the other side of Kelly opposite of Nelson. Connor Williams, Tyrell Crosby or Martinas Rankin could compete with Denzelle Good, Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark to play right tackle.
I’m not saying they necessarily should, but the Colts could form a ridiculous offensive line if they really wanted to.
Right now, the Colts have TY Hilton, Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers at wide receiver. It’s not a bad group, but it needs more depth and could definitely use more size. The other eight receivers on the roster offer a lot of size, but none should be trusted not to have to compete for a roster spot. The Colts ought to draft one, maybe two receivers.
Memphis’ Anthony Miller is my top receiver in the class. He runs crisp, precise routes, has short-area quickness and deep speed. As a good receiver should, he also has sticky hands. Not to sound dramatic, but how he plays reminds me a lot of Antonio Brown. Other receivers who we may see go in Round 2 are Courtland Sutton, D.J. Chark, Christian Kirk, DaeSean Hamilton, James Washington and Equanimeous St. Brown.
Hilton is obviously one of the NFL’s best receivers, but neither Grant or Rogers are immune from being leap-frogged by any deserving rookies. There aren’t many rookie receivers who look like WR1’s in this class, but there are several who look like high-end WR2’s. With how we’ve seen the Colts’ receiving corps completely engulfed by defenses before, it wouldn’t hurt to have a group of five quality receivers/
This group on the Colts definitely isn’t lacking depth. The Colts do have some quality players at defensive end in Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Tarell Basham (and Henry Anderson/Denico Autry?), but they are still looking for that pass rush specialist. Considering you can never have too many pass rushers, the Colts can stack them.
Harold Landry is target No. 1 for me tonight, for sure. The way he bends the corner and gets low out of a tackle’s reach, he’s definitely a candidate to be the Colts’ pass rush specialist. Outside of Landry, the uber potential of Josh Sweat as well as Big Ten ends Kemoko Turay or Sam Hubbard could all fill the role of a classic pass-rushing defensive end. Meanwhile, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Lorenzo Carter could be developed to become full-time edge rushers, but have a lot of value as off-ball linebackers who rush the passer on third down.
The Colts don’t have any sure bets at defensive tackle for guys who not only fit the new scheme, but are also high-quality starters. The duo of Maurice Hurst and Nathan Shepherd could be an answer to those questions on the Colts’ roster. Both are fleet-footed big men who have a knack for getting penetration into the backfield. They can make life difficult for ball carriers as well as put pressure in the quarterback’s face. Both have big red flags, however, as Hurst is only still available because of a heart condition found during the Combine (although he’s been medically cleared), and Shepherd is already 24.
The Colts really need linebackers. Because of that, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them draft two or three tonight and tomorrow. Real quick, try picking a suitable starting three out of Najee Goode, Anthony Walker, Jeremiah George, Antonio Morrison, Tyrell Adams, Jermaine Grace, Darnell Sankey and Josh Perry.
The good news for the Colts is that this is a deep draft for linebackers, and the second round has several to choose from. Darius Leonard and Fred Warner fit very well, as does Malik Jefferson. Like they factored in as pass rushers, Okoronkwo and Carter are included in this group as well.
Second-year (and fellow second-round pick) Quincy Wilson definitely appears to be a keeper for the Colts, but Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore and Kenneth Acker are not enough to prevent the Colts from selecting one or even two cornerbacks. Like pass rushers, you can also never have enough cover men.
Josh Jackson and Isaiah Oliver are both still on the board, could have easily been mid-first-round picks, and also happen to fit the Colts’ new defense very well. Like Wilson, they also have decent size, length and ball skills. Quenton Meeks and Carlton Davis are a couple of others that fit that profile.