I looked at each team’s IDP drafts and how it will affect the players already on the team. I’m not going to spend time discussing picks who likely won’t make the team or whose ceilings are to be a Special Team contributor. That usually means any EDGE drafted after R3 and any LB or Safety drafted after R4.
3.04 Justin Reid FS Stanford
6.03 Duke Ejoifor 3-4 OLB Wake Forest
6.40 Peter Kalambayi 3-4 OLB Stanford
7.04 Jermaine Kelly DB San Jose State
Reid is interesting. He can play either safety spot. In theory, he’s still behind Andre Hall on the depth chart. It’s safe to assume starting SS Tyrann Mathieu will be covering the slot in the nickel. Why would a team sign the Honeybadger if they weren’t planning on playing him in the slot? If Mathieu plays SS in base and SCB in sub packages, that opens up a spot for Reid to see the field immediately. That could provide him with the opportunity to surpass the former R7 Hal.
At ILB, it looks like it’ll continue to be a committee between Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole, with snaps earned in that order.
2.04 Darius Leonard MIKE South Carolina State
2.20 Kemoko Turay 4-3 DE Rutgers
2.32 Tyquan Lewis 4-3 DE Ohio State
7.03 Matthews Adams 4-3 LB Houston
7.17 Zaire Franklin 4-3 LB Syracuse
Leonard had arguably the second best landing spot of all the LBs. He walks into a 3-down role. He should be a solid IDP starter from Week 1. The biggest concern at this point is the limited talent in the d-line ahead of him. Indy let go their best space eater from last year, Johnathan Hankins. They’re certainly trying to improve their D-line, but they started at the EDGE. If Indy adds a few DTs to keep Leonard clean next year, he could turn into an LB1.
The bigger question becomes, who else will play LB for the Colts. They let Jon Bostic walk during free agency. They’ve got 2016 R4 pick Antonio Morrison, 2017 R5 pick Anthony Walker, two R7 picks, UDFA Skai Moore, Philly castoff Najee Goode, Charger castoff Joshua Perry and former Jet Jeremiah George. Did I miss anyone? It may turn into a gross committee, or one of these guys could play 3-downs next to Leonard. The most likely candidate is Morrison, who was regularly playing 80-90% of the snaps last season.
It was unfortunate timing for Indy to have a plethora of early picks and a precarious need at EDGE. It was a shallow EDGE class, and I still like the Colts attacking the draft and taking two R2 EDGEs. I prefer Turay of the two. Turay is more athletic and more likely to hit his sack ceiling, although he’s got injury concerns. Lewis rushed from the inside at times at Ohio State and could do the same in sub packages in Indy. The double down on DEs makes it hard to predict play volume as rookies. Jabaal Sheard will still be starting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jon Simon starting opposite Sheard with Turay and Lewis mixing in snaps here and there.
The second round was rough on last year’s R3 Tarell Basham who was expected to be more comfortable this year moving back to DE. Basham “showed flashes” toward the end of last year. Of course, when someone “shows flashes,” it means the rest of the time, the lights are out.
1.29 Taven Bryan 4-3 DT Florida
3.29 Ronnie Harrison SS Alabama
7.12 Leon Jacobs 4-3 DE Wisconsin
Jacksonville had a good draft. All their picks seemed to be BPA, which you can do when your roster, outside of QB, is already excellent. It is how good teams get better.
Bryan will be a popular DT pick. He’s got some depth chart issues though. He’s behind Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, and Abry Jones. Hard to see a path for consistent snaps taking less than a year and potentially two years.
Harrison also has depth chart issues, but it’s an easier climb. Harrison is behind Barry Church at SS. Church, at 30 years old, is signed for another three seasons. Harrison could force Jacksonville’s hand if he plays well early. The Jags played no Big Nickel last year, but that was with Aaron Colvin manning the slot. I’m not sure who the Nickel CB will be this year, which means they could experiment more with Big Nickel.
1.22 Rashaan Evans 3-4 ILB Alabama
2.09 Harold Landry 3-4 OLB Boston College
5.15 Dane Cruikshank S Arizona
This one is relatively easy. Evans will be starting next to Wesley Woodyard at ILB. The question, if you’re planning on making an investment of Evans in rookie drafts, is whether Jayon Brown will continue to play sub packages. If you draft an LB in R1, hopefully, the plan is to have him play all 3-downs. You can draft 2-down LBs in R3, R4, and R5. Evans may rush the passer early on 3rd down, but in the long run, you can expect him on the field all 3-downs, even if his role is limited as a rookie. Evans is firmly in the 2nd tier of rookie LBs with LVE and Darius Leonard.
Landry dropped for some reason in the draft, but found a sweet landing spot, even if it is a 3-4. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo should quickly cede snaps to Landry, especially on passing downs. Morgan and Orakpo may continue to be the primary OLBs on running downs until Landry proves he can hold up against the run.
Tennessee is set at Safety with Kevin Byard and Jonathan Cyprien, so Cruikshank is likely just depth.
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