10 NFL Combine Prospects That the Indianapolis Colts Must Closely Watch
The 2013 draft is one full of promise for every team, especially the Indianapolis Colts.
The draft looks to be one of the deeper ones in recent memory, with a solid group of players in positions of need for the Colts. This is especially true when looking at the No. 24 overall pick.
The Colts could go in multiple directions with the pick, with multiple high-profile targets on both the offensive and defensive lines, pass-rushing outside linebackers and defensive backs. Because of the multitude of targets (the scope only gets larger as the draft moves into the later rounds), mocks for the Colts have been scattered, with little consensus on any pick.
The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine won't clear things up, but it may cause a few players to slide up or down the boards, affecting the Colts' chances of drafting them.
With that in mind, here are 10 potential Colts whose stocks could be changed the most by their Combine performances.
CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
While Banks has been mocked to the Colts by several different analysts and is currently the closest thing to a consensus pick, he's not a lock to even be drafted in the first round.
Recently, Todd McShay questioned if Banks would even be drafted in the first round, saying "He’s not an elite cornerback but he’s very good. He’s just a notch off of that.”
McShay, who has Banks mocked to the Colts at No. 24 currently, says Banks could go anywhere from 25-40.
With Banks, scouts have had questions about his ability to play man-to-man in a press coverage scheme, which is what the Colts would like to see him in. He's played a lot of zone and off-man at Mississippi State, and most scouts have a Cover 2 or other zone coverage as his most favorable scheme fit.
Scouts will be watching his lateral quickness at the combine to see if he has the athleticism to fit in a press coverage scheme in the NFL.
OLB Jamie Collins, Southern Miss
Collins played as a "Bandit" in the Southern Miss scheme in 2012, a hybrid OLB/DE. At 6'5", 240 pounds, Collins' athleticism and size make him look like a possible target in the third or fourth round for the Colts.
Collins wasn't able to participate for parts of Senior Bowl week with a hamstring injury, and the combine will be a great chance for him to wow scouts with his speed and quickness. Playing for a horrific Golden Eagles team in 2012, Collins may have been overlooked by many, despite finishing with a Conference USA-leading 20 tackles for a loss, as well as 10 sacks.
The former defensive back still can move like one, but he may need to add a few pounds to his frame to be able to set the edge in the NFL. Scouts will be looking for great numbers in his 40-yard dash time and cone drills, but he could really help himself by weighing in a few pounds heavier and having a solid showing in the bench press.
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Jonathan Cooper, another player that has been mocked to the Colts by several experts, is a guy who may see his stock rise after combine week.
Although Chance Warmack is the best guard in the draft, Cooper has had a lot of people talking over the last couple of weeks.
After seeing Kevin Zeitler do so well for the Bengals during his rookie season in 2012, the Colts could be looking for their own version of a rookie stud lineman. Cooper very well may be that guy, being extremely consistent during his senior season.
Most people already have Cooper's athleticism on their radar, but a solid week in Indianapolis could convince a team like St. Louis to snatch him up before he can get to the Colts' pick at No. 24.
S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Cyprien, once thought of to be a third- or fourth-round prospect, was the talk of the 2013 Senior Bowl week, dominating in practice and rising to near the top of the list of safeties in this year's draft.
Cyprien is incredibly aggressive. His hard-hitting style next to Antoine Bethea would be a reminder of the Bob Sanders days in Indianapolis.
The former teammate of T.Y. Hilton at Florida International, Cyprien may get picked up in the first round now, or the Colts could possibly move down and pick him up in the early second.
Some scouts have expressed concern for Cyprien's straight-line speed, which would directly affect his ability to cover. Watch for his 40-time at the combine this week. If he impresses, he could end up being a solid pickup at No. 24.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The 6'3", 300-pound defensive lineman from Florida would be a huge addition to the Colts' defensive line, but it's unlikely that he drops to No. 24.
Floyd has great measurables with a perfect frame for a 3-4 defensive end, the quickness to beat linemen off the snap and powerful hands that he uses to get by blockers with ease.
The problem with Floyd is that he's still somewhat raw. His technique is nothing special, so his draft spot relies slightly on his measureables. Floyd is expected to have a very impressive combine, and if he disappoints, he could slip down to the Colts' spot at No. 24.
Rumor is that Floyd is a high-character guy and could really help himself with the interview process as well.
OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
As arguably the most powerful run-blocking tackle in the draft, Fluker would be a far cry from Winston Jusctice's uninspired run-blocking in 2012.
Fluker has been mocked to the Colts by several people in the first round, including Pete Prisco's latest mock. Fluker showed up to the Senior Bowl weigh-in a little heavier than expected, but scouts still were impressed with his huge frame and the even way that he filled it out.
The massive right tackle sometimes struggles with speed rushers, simply not having the quickness or balance to handle them.
Watch for Fluker to impress with the bench press, but the real test will be the shuttle run.
DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Hankins, at 320 pounds, likely would play nose tackle in the Colts' scheme, but has the athleticism to play outside if necessary. He would work great in the Colts' 3-4 hybrid, which needs solid tackles inside when it switches to four down linemen (usually happens in nickel).
Although he hasn't been mentioned much among fan mocks, some experts think that Hankins is the best nose tackle in the draft. Hankins moves very well for such a big lineman, with quick feet and fluid movements allowing him to wreak havoc in small spaces.
The former Buckeye is a fantastic run defender and could be a huge boost to the porous line that allowed for one of the worst run defenses in the league in 2012.
OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Johnson has made a quick transition from quarterback to tight end to left tackle, but now he possesses the prototypical frame for the position.
The Oklahoma tackle could stand to add a few pounds, to keep from being knocked back into the pocket as often, but overall he should be fine.
Johnson has been overlooked a little with Eric Fisher having a dominant Senior Bowl, but the 6'2", 305-pound tackle had a pretty good week himself. If he shows up with a solid bench performance, he could end up out of the Colts' reach come draft time.
G/C Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones, seen by most as the best center in the draft, now is falling out of favor with most GMs. According to multiple analysts, Jones isn't seen as a first- or second-round pick by any NFL talent evaluators.
Jones is a very technically sound lineman, but he isn't seen as an exceptional athlete, something that could really work against him come April.
The Colts will definitely be considering Jones, who could move to guard in the NFL, if he falls to their third- or fourth-round pick.
Watch for Jones' combine performance to predict where he ends up falling. If he shows off more athleticism and strength than expected, the Colts might not get a chance to pick him up in those middle rounds.
CB Tyrann Mathieu, Louisiana State University
Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, received an invite for the 2013 combine despite not playing football in 2012. That combine invitation is the most important thing to happen to Mathieu, and he has the most to gain or lose of any player at the combine.
Mathieu first needs to prove that he's in NFL shape and can run, jump and press with the best of them.
But even more importantly, Mathieu will have a chance to explain his off-the-field issues to NFL scouts and GMs during the all-important interviews.
The Honey Badger is a physical ball hawk, something that could fit very well in a thin Colts' secondary. If he's still around in the fifth or sixth round of the draft, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see the Colts take a chance on him. But the first step is the combine, where Mathieu must prove that he's NFL material.
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