NFL Draft: Who the Indianapolis Colts Could Draft in Round 2
By announcing that Luck would indeed be selected by the team, general manager Ryan Grigson killed off any remaining trace of doubt.
Thus, with no speculation necessary for the team’s first selection, genuine intrigue instead surrounds its second-round pick, which will be 34th overall.
Though it may seem convenient to do so, the team’s 2-14 record in 2011 cannot be attributed solely to the abysmal play of backup quarterback Curtis Painter. Rather, the Colts are a team filled with holes, and Peyton Manning’s injury last year helped expose this fact.
Among the team’s many needs: wide receiver, cornerback, tight end and both the offensive and defensive line stand out.
Based on current projections on where players will be taken, here are some possible second-round picks for the Colts.
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In the next few months, people will make countless comparisons between Peyton Manning's early career and that of Andrew Luck, based on the apparent similarities between the two situations (first-overall draft pick, playing for a rookie coach and general manager, etc.).
One notable difference is that when Manning joined the Colts, the team already had a steady tight-end tandem consisting of Marcus Pollard and Ken Dilger.
When Luck is drafted on Thursday, the team will only have one tight end on the roster, and that is Brody Eldridge, who was drafted for his blocking ability more so than his receiving skills.
Drafting Fleener, a teammate of Luck's at Stanford, would help address this need. The 6'6" tight end is a dependable target with good hands and athleticism.
Last season, Fleener caught 10 touchdown passes and had 667 yards receiving.
A big, pass-catching tight end is a valuable asset, particularly for a rookie quarterback, and given his experience playing with Luck in college, Fleener can be the dependable receiving option the young quarterback will need.
Janoris Jenkins-CB-North Alabama
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Janoris Jenkins finished his college career at Division II North Alabama, but is better known as a Florida Gator, having spent the first three years of his college career in Gainesville.
The cornerback made the move from the SEC to the Gulf South Conference due to his dismissal from Florida in April 2011, which was the result of a number of off-the-field incidents.
These problems have given draft observers pause, with some mock drafts seeing Jenkins taken in the first round and others not taking him off the board until Round 3.
What is clear however, is that Jenkins has first-round talent, so at least from an on-the-field perspective, he would be a great value for the Colts in Round 2.
Playing in the SEC for three seasons, Jenkins had eight career interceptions with Florida, in addition to 121 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles.
But the numbers that really make Jenkins stand out came in performances against college football's best receivers.
In 2009 and 2010, when matching up against future first-round picks AJ Green and Julio Jones, Jenkins shut them down completely.
In four games against Jenkins between the two, neither Green nor Jones exceeded 50 yards receiving once, and combined for only 13 catches.
Indianapolis has a need at corner, in that they lack skilled players at the position.
Also, the new defensive scheme brought in by head coach Chuck Pagano will ask more from the corners in terms of coverage than the previous Cover 2 scheme, making it even more important to have talent there.
Granted, the character issues raise yellow flags, but at No. 34, Jenkins warrants strong consideration if he is still on the board.
Alshon Jeffery-WR-South Carolina
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One thing to keep in mind here is, while Indianapolis is thin at wide receiver, the 2012 Draft is deep at the position, so the Colts could conceivably address another need in Round 2, and still grab a Ryan Broyles, Joe Adams, or Nick Toon in the third round or fourth round.
If, however, Grigson and company do decide to take a receiver with their second pick, Jeffery is a solid option that could still be available.
A big target with solid hands, the 6'3" South Carolina product would be a good possession receiver for Luck and an excellent red-zone weapon.
Scouts were concerned that Jeffery lacked the speed to play at the next level, but Jeffery alleviated much of this doubt by running a 4.51 forty-yard-dash at South Carolina's pro day, according to CBS Sports.
The Colts only have three experienced receiving options currently on the roster in Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Donnie Avery.
Collie and Avery have major injury question marks, and Wayne will turn 34 before the end of the 2012 season. With these things in mind, the Colts could stand to add some young receiving talent that Luck can grow with.
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The interior of the Colts' defensive line has been a weakness for what seems like an eternity, with all recent efforts to address the position failing, including second-round bust Fili Moala from the 2009 draft.
Alameda Ta'amu, the massive lineman from Washington, could be a solution to this longstanding problem. Ta'amu has the skill set to play nosetackle in the Colts' new 3-4 defense, in addition to the size, weighing in at almost 350 pounds.
Taking the huge defensive tackle at pick No. 34 would be considered by some to be a reach, and would be an example of the Colts drafting to fill a need rather than taking the best available player.
That said, given that this need has been left unfilled for the better part of a decade, there are worse options here for the Colts.
Fellow defensive tackle Jerel Worthy of Michigan State makes sense here as well.
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The quality of the Colts' offensive line has declined considerably in recent years, with high draft picks Tony Ugoh and Mike Pollak failing in their attempts to fill the shoes of Tarik Glenn and Ryan Lilja respectively.
Indianapolis attempted to address this in last season's draft, taking offensive linemen with their first two selections.
The Colts also signed center Samson Satele in free agency this offseason to replace the line's longtime anchor Jeff Saturday. Still, there is more work that needs to be done here.
The Colts could stand to beef up the interior of their offensive line, and Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler could do the trick.
An excellent run blocker, he could be a significant help for a team that has struggled to run the ball due in part to poor offensive line play.