Heading into this season, everyone thought that in December, we'd be talking about the Indianapolis Colts battling for the top pick in the 2013 NFL draft for the second consecutive season. With a first-year head coach and 30 players with less than two years experience in the NFL, no one gave this team a chance.
Then, their head coach goes down with leukemia in early October, and with injuries, they had to rely on rookies. We thought this was a three to four-win football team at best. But, the Colts have overcome expectations and are in the driver's seat for an AFC wild card playoff spot.
That means the Colts will likely be picking mid to late first round next year. With Indianapolis going nearly all offense in last year's draft, expect it to look for defenders this season. The first four picks for Indianapolis were all offensive weapons which have come in and produced immediately.
Really, only another linebacker, defensive lineman, cornerback and some offensive line help is all the Colts are looking for. Mix that with having the most cap room in the NFL to sign free agents, and the Colts have a lot of options to become scary good starting next season.
Coming into the season, everyone thought the Colts would use their first-round pick on the next franchise running back. They did this in 1999 in picking Edgerrin James after going with Peyton Manning with the first pick of the 1998 draft.
After getting their quarterback, tight ends and wide receivers of the future in 2012, most thought grabbing a first round-caliber running back was all that was needed to solidify this offense for many years to come. What we didn't expect would happen was Indianapolis to develop three very productive running backs to give them depth and hope to use this pick elsewhere.
Indianapolis would surely like to use this pick on one of the standout outside linebackers, but it's looking more and more like they would all go before Indianapolis, as the Colts keep slipping down the draft order the more and more they win.
Right now, I think the Colts will go with Eric Fisher from Central Michigan with their pick. The Colts needs offensive line help big time, and a 6'8, 305-pound lineman will help this line tremendously. Indianapolis already has 2010 first-round pick Anthony Castonzo lining up blocking Andrew Luck's blindside. If the caliber of linebacker it's 're looking for is gone by this pick, it will go with Fisher to lock down the right side of the line.
Unless Indianapolis makes a trade, it will be without a second-round pick in next April's draft. The Colts traded this pick away back in August to Miami for cornerback Vontae Davis. I honestly don't see the Colts giving much up between now and April to gain a second-round pick, so don't expect Indianapolis to be picking in Round 2 next April.
The Colts will get Dwight Freeney's replacement in this round with a stud out of Texas A&M Sean Porter. It's no secret Indianapolis isn't going to sign Dwight Freeney after paying him an NFL-high $18 million dollars this season to play a new position.
Freeney hasn't adapted very well and needs to be lining up on the defensive end spot in a 4-3 scheme. Indianapolis has Robert Mathis on one side with the middle linebacking core built for the future with Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman splitting time in the two middle spots.
That's why bringing in someone of Porter's ability could help this defense thrive. In 2011, Porter had 9.5 sacks, 79 tackles and a forced fumble. This season, he has 60 tackles (5.5 for a loss), 2.5 sacks and an interception.
Porter is similar to Von Miller, as he has similar quickness, athletic build and ability. If Porter is available here for the Colts, this defense could be lights-out in 2013.
The Colts currently have Antoine Bethea and Tom Zbikowski as their starting safeties. Bethea has been a long mainstay, as he has never missed a game in his tenure. Zbikowski was brought in this past year from Baltimore, but hasn't performed like the Colts would want.
I believe the Colts go best available with this pick here and select safety Bacarri Rambo. They could use another safety, and he has big-game experience. Rambo is one of the best safeties in the draft and could make a big impact in Indianapolis.
Rambo has been one of the best safeties in college football all four years he's been a Bulldog. He's quick and has playmaking abilities, as he can not only intercept passes, but force fumbles. He has the potential to be the next Ed Reed in the type of system Indianapolis is adopting.
Like Round 2, the Indianapolis Colts traded away this pick this past year. They traded it to San Francisco on draft night in April for a third-round selection to pick T.Y. Hilton. That obviously was a steal, as Hilton has become one of the best receivers taken in April.
Without speculating if a trade is made, I'll have to just leave this as no pick unless something miraculous happens. I wouldn't count it out, but it's hard to speculate a pick when a trade is needed.
Indianapolis will once again go with defense with this pick, and the best available should be Craig Roh from Michigan. Roh has the ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker, which is something the Colts need.
With having Mathis and possibly drafting Porter in Round 3, Roh could be a backup for either and build depth for the Colts' future.
Roh is 6'4, 280 pounds, so he will certainly be a fit for Indianapolis and could play on both the line and back in a stand-up role. I like his ability, as he's big but athletic. The Colts can't go wrong with this pick.
The Colts had two seventh-round picks next year, but traded one away in the Vontae Davis trade in August. I'd expect them to stay with the defensive theme in drafting their final pick and take defensive lineman Everette Dawkins from Florida State.
Indianapolis needs some defensive tackle and line help, as really only Cory Redding is going to be the only one to return from this year's team. Look for Josh Chapman who the Colts drafted in April to start at defensive tackle next year, as they can draft Dawkins to be his back up or line up next to him.
Dawkins is a big 6'2, 304-pound lineman. He's slipped down many big boards, as he was at one point considered a second or third-round talent. He hasn't put up the numbers many would want this year, but that doesn't mean he can't in the NFL.
With having their final pick, the Colts have nothing to lose with selecting Dawkins. They do have tons of money for free agency, and with these picks, they can really boost their 53-man roster.