Free Agents, Draft Picks That Could Fill Colts' Biggest Needs

Kyle J. Rodriguez@@coltsauth_kyleCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2013

Free Agents, Draft Picks That Could Fill Colts' Biggest Needs

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Despite being 8-5 and clinching the AFC South this past week, the Indianapolis Colts have a long way to go if they are to be a Super Bowl contender. With holes on both sides of the ball, general manager Ryan Grigson has his work cut out for him in the upcoming offseason after a poor 2013.

    The resources for that work are handicapped a bit with the Colts' first-round pick belonging to Cleveland as a result of the Trent Richardson trade. The Colts are also missing a fourth-round pick after trading up for Montori Hughes in the 2013 draft.

    However, the Colts will have ample cap room to work with in free agency. They should be able to fill a few holes with some strategic free-agent signings. According to Over the Cap, the Colts have the fourth-lowest cap number for 2014 and should have the room to go after some big-name free agents.

    So who might the Colts bring in after the season in their attempt to build a dynasty around Andrew Luck?

    Here are a few potential targets for the Colts' biggest needs: offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, safety and defensive line.

Interior Offensive Line

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    The Colts’ biggest problem going into the 2013 offseason was the interior offensive line.

    Unfortunately, it looks like it will be the same story going into the 2014 offseason. While left guard will be fortified by the return of Donald Thomas in 2014, the starting center and right guard positions are still a big question mark, and the depth across the line needs improvement.


    Potential Free Agents

    Geoff Schwartz (KC)

    Jon Asamoah (KC)

    Matt Slauson (CHI)

    Chad Rinehart (SD)

    If the Colts are looking for a stud guard to start at right guard for the foreseeable future, Asamoah and Slauson are both great possibilities. Slauson is more well-rounded, while Asamoah is a pass-protecting specialist.

    Schwartz has been a great reserve guard for Kansas City, earning Pro Football Focus’ seventh-best grade by a guard despite playing fewer than 400 snaps (subscription required).

    Rinehart is another flexible guard who has been bounced in and out of the starting lineup due to injuries. He would compete for a starting spot in Indianapolis with Hugh Thornton.

    At center, don’t be surprised if Indianapolis takes a run at Cleveland center Alex Mack.


    Potential Draft Picks

    Zack Martin (Notre Dame)

    Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)

    Anthony Steen (Alabama)

Wide Receiver

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    The other problem on offense is the lack of talent on the outside. With Reggie Wayne’s injury and Darrius Heyward-Bey’s struggles, the position is currently a glaring weakness. Expect Indianapolis to look for both long-term potential and a quick fix in the offseason.


    Potential Free Agents

    Eric Decker (DEN)

    Hakeem Nicks (NYG)

    Emmanuel Sanders (PIT)

    James Jones (GB)

    Decker and Nicks are the cream of the crop at wide receiver. They would be long-term options at No. 2 receiver for Indianapolis. Nicks would be able to slide into Wayne’s role after he retires.

    It does depend on what kind of contract the two are looking for, and what Indianapolis wants to invest at the wide receiver position.

    Sanders would be a much cheaper option. He's a player with dependable hands who could be a solid producer on the outside, allowing T.Y. Hilton to move into the slot in three-receiver sets.

    Jones is older than the other three, but he would be a great short-term option opposite Reggie Wayne as the Colts develop LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers.


    Potential Draft Picks

    Jarvis Landry (LSU)

    Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)

    Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)

    Cody Hoffman (BYU)

Inside Linebacker

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    While the need may not be as high-profile as the offensive needs, the Colts' inside linebackers have a huge disappointment this season.

    Pat Angerer simply hasn’t been the same player since his foot injury in 2012, and trade acquisition Kelvin Sheppard has been a huge disappointment. Jerrell Freeman is a decent player but no better than an average inside linebacker.

    The Colts desperately need a starter to pair with Freeman and improved depth at the position.


    Potential Free Agents

    Karlos Dansby (ARZ)

    Brandon Spikes (NE)

    Daryl Smith (BAL)

    The headliners for inside linebacker free agency are Dansby and Spikes, both of whom have been fantastic this season. Neither Arizona nor New England has much cap room, and the two may get out onto the open market. Signing either would be a huge boost to the Colts defense, although it would take a sizeable investment.

    Smith is 31, but he has played well in Baltimore this season. He would be a short-term boost for Indianapolis.


    Potential Draft Picks

    Shayne Skov (Stanford)

    A.J. Johnson (Tennessee)

    Max Bullough (Michigan State)

    DeDe Lattimore (South Florida)


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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    While Antoine Bethea is a fan favorite and has been a key part of the Colts organization over the last eight years, it’s been painfully obvious that his skills are declining.

    The Colts have Delano Howell as a depth safety currently, but that’s it. 2012 draft pick John Boyett was cut prior to the season.

    With LaRon Landry’s injury problems, the Colts have to make a move at safety in 2014.


    Potential Free Agents

    Jairus Byrd (BUF)

    Donte Whitner (SF)

    Ryan Mundy (NYG)

    Byrd and Whitner are both stellar safeties, and both would cost a pretty penny. Byrd is arguably the best coverage safety in the NFL, but signing him would force the Colts to change how they use their safeties. They currently use the two interchangeably, but to utilize Byrd’s talents would mean using a more traditional strong/free safety system.

    Whitner is more well-rounded. He would likely slide right into Bethea’s role without a hitch. Whitner has expressed a desire to stay in San Francisco, but the 49ers will have little cap room to work with next summer.

    Mundy has bounced in and out of the starting lineup in New York due to inconsistent play and injuries. He is flexible and could play both safety spots.


    Potential Draft Picks

    Dion Bailey (USC)

    Deone Bucannon (Washington State)

    Ty Zimmerman (Kansas State)

Defensive End

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    While the Colts did just add defensive linemen in the 2012 and 2013 offseasons (Josh Chapman and Montori Hughes in the draft, Cory Redding, Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency), the Colts desperately need some pass-rushers on the line. Robert Mathis has been phenomenal, but he receives little support from the defensive line.

    The Colts have been decent on the line in run defense. The pass rush, though, is completely missing.


    Potential Free Agents

    Antonio Smith (HOU)

    Clinton McDonald (SEA)

    It’s not a great free-agent class for 3-4 pass-rushing defensive linemen, but Smith and McDonald are both potential options. Smith will be 32, and a short-term option at best, but he’s still a very good pass-rusher from the interior.

    McDonald is a younger option, though he is used to playing in a 4-3 in Seattle. He could fit in the Colts’ scheme, however, especially on passing downs. But if he wants a big contract, the Colts may not be willing to shell out.


    Potential Draft Picks

    Ra’Shede Hageman (Minnesota)

    Ed Stinson (Alabama)

    Will Sutton (Arizona State)

    Taylor Hart (Oregon)