Indianapolis Colts: 2013 NFL Draft Prospects They Should Already Be Scouting
With organized team activities and minicamps ending, the NFL has begun it's annual "dead time" until training camp begins in August. Rest assured, Colts GM Ryan Grigson and his staff are using the time wisely.
Obviously, the Colts front office is still working on ways to improve this year's team, but they are also, no doubt, looking ahead.
One place they're looking is the 2013 NFL draft. You can bet they are scouting players and preparing themselves for next year's draft during their "down time."
Let's check out 10 players the Colts should be scouting for the 2013 draft.
David Amerson, CB, NC State
I've mentioned him before (here).
The Colts have been trying to improve the cornerback position all offseason. They traded for Cassius Vaughn. They signed free agent Justin King. They have actively pursued a trade with the Dallas Cowboys for Mike Jenkins.
That should make one thing obvious to everyone: The Colts' biggest weakness is at cornerback, and they know it.
Even if they somehow pull off a trade for Jenkins, cornerback will still be high on their priority list.
Check out the video of his highlights from last year. The kid is aggressive. He's a game-breaker, a ball hawk, and he's big. He's 6'3" and close to 200 lbs.
He's a top-10 pick, and the Colts will likely pick in the top 10. Seems like a no-brainer.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Here's another top-10, no-brainer pick for the Colts (hey, they've got a lot of holes to fill). Star Lotulelei is a 6'4", 320-lb. defensive tackle from Utah.
If drafted by the Colts, he'd start immediately at nose tackle.
The guy's a monster.
Check out the highlights. One offensive lineman alone cannot contain him. He pushes linemen aside with relative ease. Watch him flat-out obliterate the running back at the 0:48 mark of the video.
A number of "draft experts," including Todd McShay, have Lotulelei going No. 1 overall in next year's draft.
He's that good.
With his size, speed (he explodes off the line) and power, Lotulelei is exceptional against the run. If he has you in his grasp, you're not going anywhere, but backwards.
It's a safe bet every team in the NFL has plenty of tape on Lotulelei. I'm sure Ryan Grigson has spent considerable time watching him.
Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State
Michael Mauti has battled injuries while at Penn St., but he continues the program's tradition of developing fine linebackers. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft.
With the Colts switching to a 3-4 defense, Mauti would transition to an inside linebacker for the Colts. At 6'2", 239 lbs., his size is more prototypical to the 3-4 ILB than that of Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner.
The big concern with Mauti is injuries, which is why he's projected as a late-round pick. He missed the 2009 season due to an ACL injury. He only played four games last season due to another ACL injury.
Mauti has a high football IQ and has proven to be a hard-worker (just look at the injuries he's battled back from). If he can stay healthy next season, his draft stock will certainly go up.
Kenny Tate, LB/S, Maryland
Kenny Tate plays outside linebacker for Maryland, but at 6'4", 220 lbs., he's probably better suited to play safety in the NFL. In fact, that is outstanding size for an NFL safety.
Tate is a great athlete, hard hitter and very good tackler. Don't worry about him in coverage. As you can see from the highlights versus Miami last year, the kid is no slouch in coverage.
NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a third-round pick.
It's exciting to think of him playing safety for the Colts—coming down to aid in run support like Bob Sanders (a much taller Bob Sanders), that 6'4" frame playing in coverage.
Yeah, you know this guy is on the Colts' radar.
Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
Micah Hyde is entering his senior season at Iowa. The versatile cornerback has played safety and returned punts. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a second-round pick.
At 6'1" and 185 lbs., he's a tall corner. He has good ball skills (seven career interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns) and is good in run support.
Like most NFL prospects coming out of Iowa, he's very football smart. He doesn't make many mental errors and is always in the right position.
The Colts must improve their cornerback depth, and Hyde would be a welcome addition next year.
Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas
The Colts added three wide receivers through free agency and the draft this year (Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill) to go along with Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Would they really be looking to add more receivers in the 2013 draft?
Collie will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. Wayne will have two years left on his contract, but will be 34 years old before this season ends. Considering that, and the fact that the Colts will surround Andrew Luck with enough weapons, you can see why they'd be scouting wide receivers for next year.
Cobi Hamilton is a receiver that should intrigue the Colts. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a second-round pick. He's got very good size at 6'3" and 209 lbs. If you watch the highlight video of him against LSU (one of the best defenses in the country) in 2010, you can see he has great run-after-the-catch skills.
Big and fast. Just what Ryan Grigson wants. Yeah, they're looking at this kid.
Travis Long, OLB, Washington State
Travis Long is an interesting prospect. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected as a third- or fourth-round draft pick, but that's at defensive end. This season at Washington St. he'll be moving to outside linebacker as the Cougars transition to a 3-4 defense. At 6'3", 256 lbs., OLB would seem to be the better position for him.
New Washington St. coach Mike Leach seems excited about Long's move to OLB, saying, "He can do a lot of things. Moving him around as a player is pretty tempting."
This is Dwight Freeney's last season under contract with the Colts, and who knows about Jerry Hughes. OLB could turn in to a much bigger need very quickly.
Long has shown good pass-rushing skills as a defensive end. With his size and speed, he'll be even better at OLB.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Montee Ball surprised many people when he chose to return to school for his senior year despite being considered a first-round pick. NFLdraftscout.com has him projected to be a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Ball had a ridiculously good season last year with 1,923 yards on 307 carries and 33 touchdowns. He'll be on the Heisman watch list all season, for sure.
The Colts have questions with their three top running backs, Donald Brown (is he a bust?), Delone Carter (can he hold on to the football?) and rookie Vick Ballard. It's reasonable to think they may need to grab a running back in next year's draft.
If any one of those running backs has a down year (especially Brown), and Ball is available in the second round as NFLdraftscout.com suggests, the Colts would surely be interested.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
Jenkins is the nose tackle in Georgia's 3-4 defense. He does exactly what the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense is supposed to do: Take on multiple offensive lineman. And he does it well.
The only proven 3-4 nose tackle on the Colts is Brandon McKinney (6'2", 345 lbs.). Regardless of the play of rookie Josh Chapman (6'1", 310 lbs.) this season, the Colts will be looking at improving the depth at nose tackle in next year's draft.
John Jenkins seems to be a perfect fit for them.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
SMU defensive end Margus Hunt is another defensive standout I presume the Colts have taken a look at. Like I said earlier, the defense is still missing quite a few pieces as the team transitions to the 3-4. Defensive end is one position the Colts could use an infusion of young talent.
Hunt, along with being a very promising defensive end, is a very interesting story. He's originally from Estonia but came to SMU to to train with its track and field coach. You see, Hunt is a legit Olympic hopeful in the shot put and discus. Hunt later tried out for the football team, and SMU head coach June Jones was so impressed he gave him a scholarship.
Now, according to NFLdraftscout.com, Hunt is a projected first-round pick. A freak of an athlete, Hunt stands 6'8" and weighs 288 lbs. He's still got a lot to learn since he just picked up football recently, but at the rate he's picked it up, and the kind of athlete he is, the sky's the limit.
Follow Brian on Twitter @coldy4goldy.