The NFL Draft is quickly approaching! The IDP department is breaking down each team post-free agency and what they should look to address in the draft.
Where do you begin when a teams roster is so depleted of talent? Everyone is quick to bash the Cleveland Browns, but the Colts aren’t far behind at this point. The offense does at least have a couple of pieces they can build around, but the defensive cupboard is pretty bare. Right now they have more needs than they have draft capital, so that makes it imperative that they make the right decisions with every pick. Indianapolis is also making a scheme switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3, which will have a significant impact and will take time to get adjusted. So let’s take a closer look at this defensive unit.
The Colts are in desperate need of any pass rushing help. As I mentioned above, they are switching to a 4-3, and in doing so, they are going to move OLB Jabaal Sheard back to his more natural fit as a DE. This instantly gives them more pass rush than had, but far from what they need. Sheard is a very good complementary pass rusher but would benefit from having a star, to bookend him. Who will play opposite of Sheard, is a big question mark as of now. They could address it in the draft, but we’ll get to that in a bit, but let’s stay with the current roster for now. They signed Denico Autry, formerly of Raiders, to a three year $18 million deal back in March. He should be the early favorite to start opposite of Sheard. Autry is an above average run stopper, who can produce some pass rush. After these two, it gets thin. They do have the second-year guy Tarell Basham, from Ohio, who is a work in progress still but has the skill set to be a starter. He’ll be a nice back up for them if/until he develops.
A good interior pass rush can help a defense tremendously, which is why I was a bit surprised they let Johnathan Hankins go. I know he didn’t exactly fit with this new scheme, but he’s better than anyone else they have. So who are the two interior starters as of now? Well DE Henry Anderson probably kicks inside due to his size. He is a solid but not great option. Next to him, it will most likely be new signed Al Woods, who played with division rival Titans for past three years. Woods is mostly a space eater and offers little of anything else. Behind these guys, there is no real noteworthy depth.
This was one of their stronger units, but not so much now. They let Jon Bostic go in free agency, and he will be missed. They are moving Sheard from OLB to DE, so they need to replenish the talent at this position. So with those two moves, they have a couple of voids to fill. They have John Simon, who was having a good season until he got injured. They have Antonio Morrison, who struggled at times last season but is projected starting MLB right now. With no other notable options on the roster, this has to be a position they address in free agency and draft.
This is a young group, but there is some talent here. Going to have growing pains due to youth, so unless they add a veteran or two, then this will continue this season. The Colts top three guys at corner, are all heading into their second year of pro ball. Quincy Wilson from Florida, is the most recognizable and talented of the group. He was highly inconsistent and showed flashes out his talent, but they need him to become more reliable. Next is Kenny Moore from Valdosta St., who had a decent rookie campaign, but like Wilson needs more experience and consistency. The third guy of these three is Nate Hairston from Temple, who may have been the Colts best corner a year ago. Behind these guys, there is not much to be concerned with.
This is the best unit of all the defensive groups right now. At Free Safety the Colts have the ultra-talented Malik Hooker, but the issue with him is health. He always seems to get injured, dating back to his college days at Ohio St. No questions about his game, as he is a ball-hawking playmaker, but just can’t stay on the field. Lining up next to him at Strong Safety is Matthias Farley, who performed pretty well for the Colts. He made a lot of tackles and should have another similar season in 2018. Some may have forgotten about Clayton Geathers because of the neck injury that forced him to miss most of 2017. He could start ahead of Fairley if he is fully healthy. Again depth, as with other defensive positions, behind these guys is little to none.
Draft Needs – DE, LB & CB
This defense has no one that strikes any fear, in opposing offenses. They can’t get consistent pressure on the QB or make plays behind the line-of-scrimmage. They desperately have to find a quality pass rusher. The scheme change on defense and the loss of some players in free agency, they have to get more help for the middle of their defense, at LB. They are young and unproven at corner, so depending on how they feel about this group, they could look for more help here. At the very least they need talent for both starters and depth.
Round 1· Pick 6 (6) from NY Jets
Round 2· Pick 4 (36)
Round 2· Pick 5 (37) from NY Jets
Round 2· Pick 17 (49) from Seattle thru NY Jets
Round 3· Pick 3 (67)
Round 4· Pick 4 (104)
Round 5· Pick 3 (140)
Round 6· Pick 4 (178)
Round 7· Pick 3 (221)
So the Colts were initially slated to pick at #3 but executed a trade with the NY Jets to move back, to #6 and pick up some extra draft capital. This was a huge for them as they need all the help they can get to rebuild and replenish this roster.
The Colts first pick comes at #6 overall. Almost every mock draft on the planet had them taking elite pass rusher Bradley Chubb from NC State at #3. After the trade with Jets, I still think they can get Chubb and have the extra picks at their dispersal. If for some reason he is gone, then that’s okay too, as I think they could make more moves back to get the best value and talent they can. Now back to pick at six. If Chubb is there, then you take him, end of discussion for me. They have to get a legit star on this side of the ball and at least make offenses fear something. I know there is a lot of Saquon Barkley talk, but I don’t think he’ll be there at six.
Now in the second round, they have three picks, and they are early (36, 37 & 49) in the round. This is where I feel the Colts, can do some damage and improve their team. Let’s say they get Chubb in the first round at six, then with one of the picks at 36 & 37, I would look at getting an LB, and I could see them possibly taking another. If they go LB with one of these and Josey Jewell is there, then they would be insane to not jump all over the opportunity to get him. I have him with a 1st round grade, and he would instantly upgrade that defense. With the 49th pick, they could look at BPA and help build some depth. Possible defensive choices for me, if available, would be DT Harrison Phillips of Stanford, CB Donte Jackson of LSU and DE Rasheem Green.
They have one pick in the third round, and when your team needs as much help as the Colts, you stay with BPA theme. At pick 67, OLB Jerome Baker could be an option or DE Da’Shawn Hand.
In the later rounds (4-7), they should continue to build the quality of the depth chart. Some players I would keep an eye on would be DT B.J. Hill of NC State, OLB Oren Burks of Vanderbilt, ILB Jack Cichy of Wisconsin and CB Tony Brown of Alabama.
For more in-depth analysis of these players, you can get the 2018 Rookie Roundup for FREE and read up on the IDP relevant draft prospects.
Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for your favorite team broken down IDP style. Follow me @DFF_DWIN and let me know who you would want the Colts or your team to draft this year!