The Indianapolis Colts finished the grueling 2016 campaign with an 8-8 record for straight back-to-back years. In 2014, the Colts finished 11-5, and lately it seems they are retooling the roster to get back into the playoffs. This year they will hit those marks to get back and to stay on top of the AFC South. Injuries derailed the team this year by losing many players, but most importantly losing starters like Arthur Jones and Jack Mewhort.
Also, the draft will be impacted by what the team does in free agency, which I do not expect the Colts to pursue any big names, but expect them to retain many of their own. They are set to lose key players like Erik Walden (11 sacks, 3 forced fumbles), Mike Adams (62 tackles, 2 interceptions), Jack Doyle (59 catches, 584 yards, 5 TDs), Darius Butler (3 interceptions, 7 pass deflections). Expect the team to try and hold onto these four players before they hit the open market.
Now, the Colts hold the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft. The team has areas of concern, but they need to draft with the method of best player available with the highest value. They have holes on both side of the ball with a need at the cornerback, edge rusher, strong safety, running back, guard, and wide receiver positions. The team could also look at adding a defensive lineman, but that group has some good veterans and youngsters hitting their prime, so I would maybe look to add a veteran to that group instead.
With the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select the versatile safety Jabrill Peppers from the University of Michigan. Mike Adams is a productive player for being 35 years old, he is a free agent. Also, after selecting T.J. Green with their second-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, they might as well take the best player and let this young duo of Peppers and Green develop together. Peppers can line up almost anywhere on the football field and make a spark in both stopping the run and pass.
On day two of the draft, expect the Colts to attack the trenches. They had many injuries involving players who go into the trenches. They are set to lose two guards in Hugh Thornton and Jonotthan Harrison, and three edge rushers in Erik Walden and Trent Cole. They lost long time Colts Robert Mathis to retirement. The Colts help protect Andrew Luck by selecting Pat Elflein from Ohio State. Elflein is a nice player to have on your team, as he can play both guards spots and the center position. He has experience at all three spots. He will challenge Denzelle Good for the starting right guard spot in camp. The Colts take back-to-back versatile players, which is good for a team that deals with tons of injuries year in and out.
In the third round, the Colts take an edge rusher in Devonte Fields. Fields can play in both defensive schemes, which is a plus and that he knows how to disrupt offenses (26.5 sacks). Fields is the Noah Spence of this draft. He does come with off-field baggage, but most NFL teams help these players get over their problems. This kid is a first-round talent landing in the third-round, which is a steal. Solid gamble here for the Colts.
We hit day three in the NFL Draft and the Colts still need to look at adding another edge rusher, cornerback, running back, wide receiver to the squad.
The fourth round is the start of drafting needs in my book. We look at the running backs on the team and Frank Gore is still producing 1,000 yard seasons, but he is almost out of gas. After Gore, the group is kind of below-average. So, that means the Colts need to look at adding a future piece of the running game. How about the Texas bulldozer in D’Onta Foreman. This kid is a straight downhill runner that is not going to shine away from contact, plus he moves real shifty for a 250 pound back. He will have to improve on becoming an every down back, but that is why he is going in the fourth round over the second round.
To continue, the Colts take a cornerback in the fifth round to round up the defensive needs. There are tons of talented corners in the draft this year. It is a smart move to take one here and develop one, as Vontae Davis is a free agent after the 2018 season, and that they are losing Darius Butler in this upcoming off-season. Channing Stribling is a guy that has been solid in his college career and also in the Shrine Game practices down in Saint Petersburg, Florida. This long and tall corner was shadowed by higher prized Wolverine teammates in Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis, but Wolverines Head Coach Jim Harbaugh thinks highly on Stribling by saying “He’s not in the limelight as much as some other players across the country, but people should not sleep on Channing Stribling,” Harbaugh said today on the “Jamie and Stoney Show” on WXYT-FM (97.1). “This player will have a fine future. This guy will probably play 10 years in the NFL. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s steadily, consistently good. People talk about being consistent, but consistently good is what you’re looking for. That’s what Channing Stribling is as a football player.”
After selecting an edge rusher in the third round, they go back to that position again in the sixth round. It will be hard to replace the retired Robert Mathis, but also looking like they are about to lose Erik Walden and Trent Cole to the open market, how can you not address this position? The Colts should select the prized pass rusher from Pittsburgh. Ejuan Price is getting snubbed due to his size, but put that past everything and you have a proven pass rusher. Price has 29.5 sacks in his college career.
Finally, the Colts round up the draft by adding a different type of receiver in terms of style. They have burners and possession receivers with T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief headlining the group. How about adding a tall deep threat that can challenge and win 50-50 balls, plus create mismatches in the slot with his height. A player like Ricky Seals-Jones comes to mind. The Texas A&M product would add another dimension to the offense. He has the talent and physical attributes to be special. His college career from a statistical standpoint did not pan the way he would of hoped to like, but he did not have a quarterback there throwing him the ball. He missed out on Johnny Manziel.