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Colts Q&A with Jake: Andrew Luck, the Draft, New Starters and More

Jake answers your questions in his latest Colts Q&A installment.

The draft happened since the last time I did one of these, so there are naturally quite a few questions to dig into. Let’s get to it!

I’m always open for questions on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ll put another call out for your questions closer to the next video. Enjoy!

Being hopeful and saying that Andrew Luck’s goal of being full-go by training camp is met, I have to imagine that he will be used to his full abilities in the regular season. I have no idea what his timelines are supposed to be, but to me (guy sitting here in a computer chair for a living), fully participating in camp from mid-to-late July until early September should have him ready. We’ve seen all of the improvements the Colts have made to the line, and Frank Reich has said that getting the ball out quicker to minimize contact on the quarterback will be an emphasis. Since this is a new coaching staff, the real trick will be seeing what of the gameplan is actually scheme and what of it is based on Luck’s health. It feels like something we haven’t seen in several years is a gameplan tailored to the weekly opponent, so we’ll see how that goes.

I would be most comfortable with Luck in that scenario, believe it or not. I say that because A) I believe he’ll be ready for the regular season or will at least play more this year than Jacoby Brissett, and B) Blake Bortles is in an offense that emphasizes the run more and is not as dependent on him as the Colts likely will be with Luck. Luck is also a much better quarterback than Brissett and Bortles, and we’ve seen him lead the NFL in touchdowns before.

Honestly, I’d say Quenton Nelson’s first real test will be Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Their defensive line features Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings inside with Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Carl Lawson on the outside. There are also several other really good lines before the Colts and Miami Dolphins square off in Week 12, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars as just a few examples. I think if Nelson has a slip-up here or there, that’s fine and should be expected — he is a rookie after all — but if he’s consistently allowing pressures or getting pushed back in the run game, then you can question his readiness.

You’ll have to ask Tom House and Adam Dedeaux!

I’d imagine the eight premium players they were thinking of were Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Denzel Ward and either Tremaine Edmunds or Mike McGlinchey. I don’t think the mystery player was drafted by the Colts because the ties to Nelson and the Colts were no secret. It sounds like they got their man.

I’m sure there are ways to accurately chart those type of things with access to tape from both eras and a whole lot of patience. You can look at what the linemen are being asked to do and how they’re doing it. The routes being run would be another big indicator. I do know for a fact that Peyton Manning’s Colts schemed to get the ball out quickly when they were facing defensive fronts that could overmatch the Colts’ blocking. Peyton may also be the most cerebral quarterback we’ve ever seen, so that can’t always be accurately measured.

I won’t trash any players, because I don’t know how they’ll pan out (and the Colts picked some of my favorite players in the draft) — I’m not a better resource on the new schemes than the coaches and front office. However, in regards to players who were still on the board when the Colts made other picks, here we go: The Colts passed-up Harold Landry, Derrius Guice, Josh Jackson and Isaiah Oliver in the second round. All could have gone in the first and would fit the Colts as players. In the seventh round, there were players like Quenton Meeks, Desmond Harrison, Holton Hill, Kevin Toliver, Brandon Facyson and Levi Wallace still there. Skai Moore too, but they were able to get him as an UDFA. I will say that I’m totally good with the draft class they did pick, but there were players around that I would’ve preferred in a couple spots.

That’s a tough one. I think the Colts would prefer for Anthony Walker to grab the starting MIKE spot. Najee Goode is probably the winner at MIKE by default if no one else steps up. Walker, Antonio Morrison and Matthew Adams are my main competitors at SAM. Gun to my head, I think Goode, Darius Leonard and Walker are the three starting linebackers (everything can change this summer).

As much as none of the top defensive backs chose to sign with the Colts, the Colts also may not have been interested. By not selecting any in the draft and then only signing priority UDFA’s with upside afterward, it shows they want to give their current group a chance to show what they’ve got.

NOTE: The Colts have signed free agent offensive tackle Austin Howard since this question was asked. I expect Howard to start at right tackle.

I think they have a grand plan for the duo of Nelson and Braden Smith, and part of Smith’s appeal to them was his ability to pull from the right guard spot. Auburn did move him around a little bit from guard to tackle, but the Colts really seem to want to keep him at guard to make an iron-strong interior. It’s also hard to plan around Jack Mewhort with his health. If he gets hurt, then you’ve got to start Smith’s NFL development over by moving him back to guard.

Roy Pickett, Facebook

“Who starts on the DL, at RT, at LBs, at CB, the 3 WRs other than Hilton and Grant, and who has more rushing yards this season?”

My initial thoughts before camp:

DL — Jabaal Sheard and John Simon at DE with Denico Autry and Hassan Ridgeway at DT

RT — Howard

LB — Goode at MIKE, Leonard at WILL and Walker at SAM

CB — Quincy Wilson at RCB, Pierre Desir at LCB and Nate Hairston in the nickel

WR — TY Hilton, Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant, Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain. If one more makes it, I would expect it to be K.J. Brent, Krishawn Hogan or Steve Ishmael.

Marlon Mack leads the Colts in rushing yards, but does not reach 1,000.

Austin Morris, Facebook

“Is simon a DE or a LB?”

Chris Ballard has recently stated that they see Simon as a right defensive end. I think he would be a good fit at SAM, but he will play DE.