Draftmas Colts

Indianapolis Colts 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Day 14 of TGH’s Draftmas takes us to the Indianapolis Colts. What will the Colts do in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Summary

After posting another 8-8 season, frustrations in Indianapolis are beginning to boil. With a legitimate franchise quarterback in place, the Colts still couldn’t make the leap with Andrew Luck in 2016. Plagued by inconsistency, the Colts could never get things going in 2016, winning back to back games only once.

But fans have hope for 2017 with the firing of General Manager Ryan Grigson. He will be replaced by former Kansas City Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard. After seeing the success of the Chiefs, fans are hopeful Jim Irsay made the right hire. And Chris Ballard has certainly given Colts fans hope.

Ballard has signed 10 free agents since he became the GM of the Colts. That is the most in team history, and certainly shows he’s willing to do whatever necessary to return the Colts to contention. But with most of the signings being more about depth and less about immediate impact, Ballard will have to make some savvy moves come draft day.

Colts Picks and Needs

The Colts have seven picks in April’s draft. With the opportunity to find some solid players throughout the draft, Indianapolis will need to make good use of each of the following picks.

1st Round: 15th Overall

2nd Round: 46th Overall

3rd Round: 80th Overall

4th Round: 122th Overall

4th Round: 137th Overall

4th Round: 144th Overall

5th Round: 158th Overall

The Colts have a solid offense, finishing 10th in the NFL in yards per game in 2016. But the offensive line is one of the glaring weaknesses of the Colts offense. After the offensive line gave up 40 sacks in the first 13 games of the 2016 season, they could use an influx of talent. But after finishing 30th in the NFL in yards per game allowed, the defense definitely needs some attention in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are the needs for both offense and defense.

Offense

Right Guard

Right Tackle

Running Back

Defense

Defensive End

Defensive Tackle

Inside Linebacker

 

Cornerback

Colts Targets and Thoughts

As with the previous Draftmas profiles, we will examine the first three rounds and there will be no trades.

Draftmas Colts

We will be seeing a lot of this from Derek Barnett in the NFL (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean).

First Round:

15th pick: Derek Barnett DE, Tennessee

After starting three years at Tennessee, Derek Barnett would be an excellent pick for the Colts at 14th overall. He would give Head Coach Chuck Pagano a legitimate pass rusher on the outside, one that could put his hand in the dirt and also play standing up. Pro Football Focus had Barnett pressuring the quarterback on 20% of his rushes in 2016, so he is a more than able pass rusher. Barnett was also a solid run stopper in his time at Tennessee, giving him an edge over other outside pass rushers. If Barnett lasts to the 14th pick, the Colts would be wise to grab him.

Second Round:

46th pick: Dan Feeney G, Indiana

While Dan Feeney isn’t the top rated guard in the 2017 draft class, he would be a good pick up for Chris Ballard. Feeney had an up and down 2016 at Indiana, missing some games due to injury. But when he has been on the field, Feeney has been a wall in pass protection. Over 1,239 pass block attempts in the past three seasons, Feeney has only allowed two sacks and four hits on Indiana quarterbacks. He has also logged some time at right tackle, giving him the ability to play at right tackle if need be. But with his innate pass blocking skills on the inside of the offensive line, Feeney could help put Andrew Luck’s mind at ease.

Third Round:

80th pick: Sidney Jones CB, Washington

After tearing his Achilles at Washington’s Pro Day, Sidney Jones has seen his draft stock plummet. Once a first round talent, many are predicting him outside the first three rounds. But if Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano are willing to wait to let Jones heal, he could be a major steal in the third round. Jones didn’t allow a single touchdown in 2016, and Pro Football Focus gave him an impressive 86.1 coverage grade. He would be an excellent addition to a depleted secondary, and would play well across the field from Vontae Davis. The Colts could get a potential top flight corner back in the third round, but Ballard and Pagano will have to be comfortable with using an early round pick on a player who might not play in 2017.

Conclusion

The Colts have some major holes to fill on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. If they can land some solid players in the early rounds, don’t sleep on the Colts to make some noise in 2017. And with a franchise quarterback already in place, all the Colts need are the pieces to help carry Andrew Luck and the Colts back to the playoffs.

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Despite New Contract, Colts in Danger of Wasting Luck

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck signed a new six-year $140 million contract to stay with the team that drafted him in 2012. I believe you are worth whatever someone will pay you in the NFL. Thus, I say good for him. However, an all-too-familiar script, is unfolding Indianapolis and it does not end well.

The Colts have had a few different general managers over the last 25 years or so. However, Jim Irsay’s family has always been among the most visible and outspoken owners in the league. So, the nature of the decision-making has not changed much.

Colts management had Peyton Manning for 13 years including all but one of his peak years. They won one Super Bowl against Rex Grossman and the Bears in a rainstorm. The quarterback is the most important position in the game of football, and when you have one of the all-time greats for 13 years, only winning one Super Bowl is a massive disappointment.

For some reason, Manning takes all the heat, the truth is they had no defense. I can name three defenders on all of the Manning led Colts teams. Safety Bob Sanders, who was always hurt, and pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. It seemed like every playoff game Manning was ever in with the Colts, and the offense had to put up 35 points to win. Heck, even in the AFC championship game against the Patriots the year they won the Super Bowl, they were down 21-3 late in the first half.

Perhaps the greatest proof of just how inept Colts management can be is what the Broncos did with Manning in just four years. He was past his prime in three of them. They went to two Super Bowls and won one this past year despite Manning leading the league in interceptions and missing a large chunk of the season. So, let’s review

Manning with Colts: 13 years, two Super Bowl apperences, one win, 9-10 playoff record

Manning with Broncos: four years, two Super Bowl apperences, one win. 5-3 playoff record.

Photo from seccountry.com

Photo from seccountry.com

Do you really think those numbers can all be attributed to Manning? I don’t think so. They are more of a reflection of the team around him than anything else. Luck has done a great job in carrying this team out of the ashes of the Peyton Manning era. What most thought was a four or five year rebuild, was not rebuild it all. The Colts were playoff team in Luck’s rookie season.

However, ever since then Luck and the Colts have hit the same playoff glass ceiling as they often did when Manning was there. Manning’s biggest obstacle in Indianapolis was his own team’s defense. Luck’s problem is the entire roster, apart from him. They tried to resurrect the 2008 Pro Bowl roster by bringing in running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson to bolster the offense last season. This was all fine and dandy, but it is 2016. Also, the offensive line could not block anyone. They gave up over two sacks per game in use four different starting quarterbacks due to injuries. It does not matter what kind of “skill position” players you have, you are not going to win many games that way. Actually, it is a wonder Indianapolis managed to finish .500. To their credit, the Colts did draft four offensive lineman.

photo from zambio.com

photo from zambio.com

The way I see it, Colts management is on the verge of wasting/not maximizing the potential of another once in a generation quarterback talent. Luck did get the better of Manning in their head-to-head meetings. Despite what that may suggest, Luck’s talent level is a notch below Manning’s. I am not sure he can carry a franchise to the Super Bowl the way “The Sheriff” did in Indianapolis. Unless Luck’s new record-breaking contract includes a younger and better supporting cast, it will not lead to any Super Bowl rings.