As I look tirelessly through the various mock drafts that appear on my Twitter feed on an almost daily basis, naturally I am drawn with intrigue to what they are predicting Indianapolis to do when April 26th rolls around at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. So far, I have not been disappointed with any projections that I have seen and when I take a moment to see what options Indy have at the 1.06 pick, I realize that there are literally no scenarios that would put the Colts into the ‘first-round loser’ discussion. Well, certainly not from a fans perspective, anyway. Let’s take a look at what options the Indianapolis Colts may be faced with come draft night.
Saquon Barkley – RB, Penn State
Many analysts and insiders are predicting that the likes of Cleveland, both New York-based teams and quite possibly Denver will all take signal callers with their first picks; meaning four of the first five picks will be quarterbacks. With an elite pass rush developing in Cleveland, the Browns may well be tempted to add to their growing reputation within the defensive line ranks and pair stand-out rookie from 2017 Myles Garrett (12 assists with 7.0 sacks) with Bradley Chubb from N.C State at the 1.04 pick. This temptation, should it be taken- would mean Saquon Barkley would still be on the board when Indy are on the clock. With Frank Gore’s contract not being renewed and lack of depth in the running back position, Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard would have the opportunity to sure up a position that has never really been cemented by a young, exciting back since Joseph Addai was drafted in 2006. In fact, Indy has a history of drafting high quality at running back with the likes of Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James being selected within the last quarter century. Barkley’s stand out college career has been the talk of the industry in the last few months and his 5.9 ypc, 1,271 yards with 21 combined TD’s from last year would certainly be welcomed by Colts fans should he be able to translate that form into the big time.
Bradley Chubb – DE, N.C State
If Cleveland elects not to build a potentially untouchable defensive line and decide to draft the aforementioned Saquon Barkley or another option for that matter; Chubb could be an immediate fix for the lack of pass rush that Indy currently possess.
As the stats indicate, the Colts’ have progressively been less productive with their pass rush, declining every season since 2013. Since losing seven-time pro-bowler Dwight Freeney in 2012 and Robert Mathis’ retirement in 2016, Indianapolis has never been able to replicate that talent on the edge and the sacks subsequently dried up. Despite last year making moves in the free agency period with the signings of Jabaal Sheard at defensive end with Barkevious Mingo and John Simon at linebacker, their pass rush still lacked the quality needed to provide an effective threat against opposing quarterbacks. Chubb has the potential to play at a level similar to what we have seen from Freeney over his career. His athleticism, size, and hustle provides plenty of upside, along with the 26 tackles for loss (2nd best in the FBS) recorded last season- would certainly go along way in fixing Indy’s diminishing pass rush and fans would certainly be excited to see the new Freeney in a Colts uniform.
Quenton Nelson – G, Notre Dame
When one thinks about the needs that need addressing in Indianapolis, the first answer is usually ‘well, their offensive line sucks’, or words to that effect. Nelson is the best O-lineman in the draft and would likely be the best option for the Colts from a pure ‘need’ standpoint. Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar recently said during an interview with NFL Fantasy Live that he believes the Notre Dame product is the best player in this draft and has the potential to be a pro-bowler for the next 10 consecutive years.
The Colts are desperate for better quality protection for whoever is under center, whether that’s for Andrew Luck who may finally come back to play after missing the whole 2017 season or Jacoby Brissett who had a turbulent first season for the Colts (3,098 yards for just 13 TD’s). Current offensive linemen Denzelle Good, Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark have done nothing so far in their time at Lucas Oil stadium to prove they are capable of stepping up to what’s required of them in the NFL. With the re-signing of Jack Mewhort and new arrival Matt Slauson both at guard, Quenton Nelson would fit in admirably enabling some much-needed quality to the depth chart. Something needs to be better on that line, they will not want to carry on on this negative trajectory being unable to protect their QB and especially not setting anymore NFL records for giving up the most sacks in a season like they did in 2017 (54).
We have already seen the Colts make a significant trade when they traded with the Jets last month. I can’t see it being a bad thing should they want to trade away this 1.06 pick again in an attempt to gain more 1st round picks later in the draft. Especially if the scenario pans out that two of the three players already previously mentioned are no longer on the board, guess what, that means there are at least one of those “elite” level QB’s still left who will certainly have draft appeal. The obvious choice would be to trade with the Buffalo Bills. It seems like stars could align here with Buffalo having two first round picks (12th and 22nd) and also possessing the need for a new franchise QB. I have predicted this scenario to take place in my most recent mock draft where I have selected the Colts to pick Marcus Davenport- DE from UTSA and the consensus’ second best RB in the class, Derrius Guice from LSU. It’s a case of either drafting one elite player in a certain position or grabbing two potentially elite players to fill two positions of need. Considering the current lack of quality throughout the defensive and offensive ranks, I think the more ‘needs’ the Colts can address during this draft, the better.
After looking at these options, I as an Indianapolis fan would be happy with any of these scenarios. Personally, I favor trading away providing we can get an additional two first-round picks as I believe the Colts need rebuilding from the foundations up. This will be their best opportunity to solidify that foundation and give the franchise a fresh opportunity to build for the future.
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