Without a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts are going to be paying a lot more attention to players in the later rounds, hoping that they can get one or two steals that could help make them even more of a Super Bowl contender.
An 11-5 record and winning the AFC South were some impressive accomplishments for a team that lost several players to injury, including its No. 1 receiver in Reggie Wayne. Andrew Luck showed his development as a quarterback, and the rebuilding process that was supposed to last a few seasons appears to be over.
But now, the Colts must start looking at players to bring in to help strengthen some of the bigger holes on the offense. The later rounds are where teams can find depth players or hidden gems, so let's take a look at a couple of late-round prospects that would be great fits for the Colts.
The Colts wanted to focus on running the ball and stopping the run this past season. Unfortunately, they still ended up ranking 26th in run defense, allowing 125.1 rushing yards per game in the regular season.
Jerrell Freeman was a steal coming out of the CFL, but there are more questions than answers with this group of inside linebackers. If the Colts want to add a player that could eventually become a key piece to the defense, Michigan State's Max Bullough would be an interesting fit.
Bullough fits Pagano's defensive mentality as a productive player on the inside of the defense that can stop the run and plug up rushing lanes. He has a very high football IQ and can read opposing offenses better than most players his age can.
Still, speed is a concern for Bullough, and being suspended for the Rose Bowl certainly didn't help his draft stock either. If the suspension was due to attitude problems, Pagano is the guy to make sure that doesn't happen again.
The emergence of Da'Rick Rogers is promising, but even if he turns into a future No. 1 receiver, the Colts are still going to need to add some help at the position. Reggie Wayne will be done sometime in the next few seasons, and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton should be trying to get Luck as many weapons as possible.
One player that's really surprised me on film has been L'Damian Washington. A 6'4'' receiver out of Missouri, Washington is one of the fastest receivers for his size. His long arms and ability to jump up for balls are impressive.
The reason Washington won't go higher is because he's still not the best pass-catcher. He tends to catch balls with his body rather than reach out and grab them, and he also struggles to catch contested passes.
For a player of his size, NFL teams would love for him to be a red-zone threat. If the Colts take him, they will have to work on helping him not catch balls with his body and make him a potential dangerous option in their offense.
The defensive line for the Colts wasn't terrible in 2013, but it definitely could have been better. Adding some late-round depth in the trenches could be a big help for next season.
The California Golden Bears may have struggled this past season, especially defensively, but Deandre Coleman was one of the few bright spots. He finished the year with 40 total tackles, nine for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Coleman is a big presence in the middle of the defense, listed at 6'5'' and 315 pounds. He does a great job separating himself from opposing offensive linemen thanks to his arm extension, helping him wrap up ball-carriers before they can break off big runs.
Speed is a weakness for Coleman, but his versatility and durability while on the field could make him a valuable piece the Colts could move around the defensive line.
With Samson Satele being a major disappointment and Khaled Holmes being the most mysterious player on the Colts to barely see the field, the Colts really need to find some help at center.
There are a number of candidates in the later rounds that the Colts could be looking at, but one that's caught my eye is Bryan Stork out of Florida State.
Stork was a consensus All-American and won the Rimington Trophy this past season as he helped the Seminoles win the BCS National Championship.
As a former tight end coming out of high school, Stork still has a lot athleticism that helps him at the position. The effort is always there on film, as he makes sure to play until the whistle is blown.
He's not going to be a Day 1 starter, but Stork could add some nice depth on the interior of the offensive line.
With Vontae Davis now a free agent, waiting to see if he'll be re-signed, and Greg Toler failing to stay healthy, it's safe to say that the Colts need to add some depth in their secondary—especially at cornerback.
An impressive Senior Bowl likely boosted his draft stock, but Stanley Jean-Baptiste could still be a Day 3 prospect, depending on how the next few months go. He was a productive player this past season in the Big Ten, racking up 41 total tackles, 12 passes defended, four interceptions and a defensive touchdown.
At 6'3'' and 220 pounds, Jean-Baptiste is an intimidating player to look at, especially if you're lining up against him. He loves to use his size, shutting receivers down at the line of scrimmage, and he isn't afraid to make contact within five yards.
Not surprisingly, Jean-Baptiste isn't the fastest guy, but given his size and aggressiveness, there's a very good chance he becomes a starter in the NFL.
Like I said with Stork, the interior of the offensive line is a mess, and while the Colts won't likely find a starter in the later rounds, there's a chance that they do find players that can be suitable backups.
What intrigues me about Jonotthan Harrison out of Florida is the fact that he's such a versatile offensive lineman. He's spent time as both a center and a guard, and he can play both at the pro level. He has a nice frame at 6'3'' and 310 pounds, but he also has nice lateral agility and is an asset in pass coverage.
The 2013 season wasn't pretty to watch on film, but the talent and the physical gifts are there. The Colts need O-line depth, and Harrison is an ideal seventh-round guy to bring in and be a reserve for both the center and the guards.