Indianapolis Colts Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The Indianapolis Colts are the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC South in 2014, a Super Bowl contender in the eyes of many.
Led by quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts have won 11 games each of the past two years, capturing their division and winning a playoff game last year.
If the Colts are going to take the next step and make it to Glendale next February, there's work to be done on the roster, and the next step in getting better takes place at this week's NFL draft in New York.
Of course, unless the Colts trade up they'll be taking Thursday off, as their first-round pick was dealt away last year.
In fact, the Colts have only five picks in the entire draft, and only one inside the top 60.
Still, that doesn't mean the Colts can't improve their team in the draft. With that in mind, here's an in-depth look at everything you need to know about the Colts' draft, from which picks they have to who they might target and how things could play out.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
For those wondering why the Colts don't have a first or fourth-round pick in 2014, you need look no further than Cleveland.
The Browns hold both picks. The Colts dealt the 26th overall pick to the Browns for running back Trent Richardson last year, and traded pick No. 127 to Cleveland in order to move up a round in last April's draft.
Here's a breakdown of the picks the Colts do have.
Round 2, Pick 27 (59)
Round 3, Pick 26 (90)
Round 5, Pick 26 (166)
Round 6, Pick 27 (203)
Round 7, Pick 17 (232) [Acquired in trade for A.Q. Shipley with Baltimore Ravens in 2013]
Position-by-Position Big Board
- Aaron Murray, Georgia
- Connor Shaw, South Carolina
- Garrett Gilbert, Southern Methodist
- Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
- Devonta Freeman, Florida State
- Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
- Marion Grice, Arizona State
- Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina
- Jay Prosch, Auburn
- J.C. Copeland, LSU
- Trey Millard, Oklahoma
- Cody Latimer, Indiana
- Jarvis Landry, LSU
- Martavis Bryant, Clemson
- Ryan Grant, Tulane
- Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
- Arthur Lynch, Georgia
- Jake Murphy, Utah
- A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
- Billy Turner, North Dakota State
- Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
- Justin Britt, Missouri
- Bryce Quigley, San Diego State
- Kevin Pamphile, Purdue
- David Yankey, Stanford
- Cyril Richardson, Baylor
- Trai Turner, LSU
- Jon Halapio, Florida
- Zach Fulton, Tennessee
- Travis Swanson, Arkansas
- Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
- Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
- Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
- Brent Urban, Virginia
- DeAndre Coleman, California
- Jay Bromley, Syracuse
- Bruce Gaston, Purdue
- Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech
- Zach Kerr, Delaware
- Beau Allen, Wisconsin
- Shayne Skov, Stanford
- Jordan Tripp, Montana
- Lamin Barrow, LSU
- Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
- Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky
- Trevor Reilly, Utah
- Telvin Smith, Florida State
- Carl Bradford, Arizona State
- Michael Sam, Missouri
- Jonathan Newsome, Ball State
- Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
- Dontae Johnson, North Carolina State
- Shaquille Richardson, Arizona
- Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern
- Ed Reynolds, Stanford
- Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
- Tre Boston, North Carolina
- Christian Bryant, Ohio State
- Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State
- Chris Boswell, Rice
- Anthony Fera, Texas
- Cairo Santos, Tulane
As we get ready for the 2014 NFL draft, here's a gander at a "Big Board" of sorts for the Colts.
Mind you, this isn't strictly a ranking of players by position. These are players who should be available to the Colts at various points throughout the draft, and as such are realistic targets.
Round 2, Pick 27 (59)
Team Needs: Offensive Guard, Safety, Wide Receiver
The Indianapolis Colts don't have as many holes to fill as the other teams in the AFC South, which is good, as with only five total selections in this year's draft the Colts will have to pick and choose their spots.
The Colts have already looked to bolster the wide receiver position with the addition of Hakeem Nicks, but ESPN's Mel Kiper (subscription required) thinks the team may go that route yet again by selecting LSU's Jarvis Landry.
"Landry isn't a burner," Kiper said, "but he has some of the best hands in the draft and will make plays in traffic. The Colts gave away their first-rounder and need this pick to work out."
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, on the other hand, believes the Colts will address the departure of safety Antoine Bethea with Florida State defensive back Lemarcus Joyner.
Bethea wasn't the only departure from the Colts in the offseason. The team signed Phil Costa to compete for a starting job at center, but the 26-year-old abruptly retired, citing health concerns.
That makes the interior of the offensive line something of a sore spot for the Colts. If a player such as Stanford's David Yankey, a polished and versatile player who can play guard or center, is available, the 315-pounder would be hard to pass up.
Round 3, Pick 26 (90)
Team Needs: Safety, Wide Receiver, Cornerback
If the Colts are going to look back on the 2014 NFL draft as a success, then given what few picks they have, it's important they hit on the early ones.
That includes this selection late in the third round, which is not only the Colts' last pick in the top 100 but also their last pick in the top 150.
The direction of both the draft and the Colts' first pick of Day 2 will have a big impact on what the team does here.
If the Colts don't address the offensive front in the second round, then guards like LSU's Trai Turner or Cyril Richardson of Baylor could be in play.
Or, the depth at the wide receiver position this year could lead to a player like Indiana's Cody Latimer or Clemson's Martavis Bryant to drop.
Getting younger at wideout while adding a lanky red-zone threat? Not the worst idea ever.
After getting torched by Alex Smith in the playoffs last year, bolstering the secondary is also a priority, so a third-round pick such as cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska could also be in the cards.
No matter which direction the team goes with this pick, one thing's for sure.
They'd better get it right, because the Colts don't get another bite at the apple for a while.
Round 5, Pick 26 (166)
Team Needs: Safety, Outside Linebacker, Offensive Line
At this late juncture in the draft, the priorities of teams change. Other than on special teams, most players drafted later on Day 3 aren't expected to be big contributors right away.
However, a pair of draftniks think the Colts could draft a player in the fifth round who will step into a golden opportunity to earn significant early playing time.
Bleacher Report's Kyle J. Rodriguez slotted Vanderbilt safety Kenneth Ladler to the Colts at pick No. 166.
Rodriguez is a fan of the 6'0", 207-pounder's versatility:
Ladler is extremely versatile, playing both free and strong safety at Vanderbilt and taking snaps at cornerback a few times during Senior Bowl week. Ladler is a playmaker as well, forcing five fumbles and picking off five passes in 2013. A reliable tackler with a quick first step, Ladler should be able to step into any role and perform adequately.
It's a pick that would make a ton of sense with Antoine Bethea now in San Francisco.
However, there's always the chance that Ladler's gone. Rob Rang of CBS Sports sees this pick as an opportunity to add depth up front with Florida guard Jon Halapio:
While defense will almost surely be the priority on draft weekend, adding physicality to the offensive side of the line of scrimmage remains a need. Halapio isn't a spectacular athlete but he's a four-year starter who gets by on toughness, strength and determination.
There's also a chance that the depth at the wide receiver and cornerback positions could lead to some Day 3 values. Players such as Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson and Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman would also be interesting upside possibilities.
Round 6, Pick 27 (203)
Team Needs: Defensive Back, Running Back, Outside Linebacker
The perception used to be that the last couple rounds of the NFL draft were something of an afterthought, that the players taken in the sixth and seventh round rarely made a big impact in the NFL.
Tom Brady turned that idea on its head after being drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round in 1999.
In just the past few years, players like running backs Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins and Andre Ellington of the Arizona Cardinals, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard of the Patriots and center Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles went from late-round pick to major contributor early in their careers.
With Donald Brown now in San Diego, Vick Ballard returning from a major injury and Trent Richardson coming off a miserable season, the Colts may look to add some backfield depth late.
After breaking his leg last year, Arizona State's Marion Grice is one player who could be there late in the sixth, especially after a so-so showing at his April 8 pro day.
Still, Grice caught 50 passes a season ago and topped 1,400 total yards. He's one of those players who shows up much better in pads than shorts, and he could potentially become at least a complementary back in Indianapolis.
Or, as Drafttek recently predicted, the Colts could look to bolster the secondary with a player like San Jose State cornerback Bene Benwikere, who NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki called a, "smooth, productive nickel corner more proficent vs. the pass than run."
3-4 defenses such as the Colts are always looking to add rotational pass-rushers as well, so a youngster such as Arizona State's Carl Bradford could also be an option here.
Round 7, Pick 17 (232)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Outside Linebacker, Kicker
At this late juncture in the NFL draft, there are essentially two kinds of picks. Depth and upside fliers.
If things break right, the Colts might just get a final pick in 2014 that accomplishes both goals.
As hard as it may be to fathom given that he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Missouri's Michael Sam may well still be there when the Colts go on the clock for the final time.
It has less to do with Sam's announcement earlier this year that he's gay, and more to do with his "tweener" size and tough spring of workouts as Sam tried to adjust to a role as an outside linebacker.
Still, we are talking about a player who amassed 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss in the SEC in 2013. Not only is the Colts' locker room one of the most stable in the league (and more than capable of handling any extra attention Sam's personal life brings him in the NFL), but Sam could learn about making the switch from DE to OLB from Robert Mathis.
You know, the same Robert Mathis who many thought would struggle making the switch. The Mathis who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks last year.
Also, with kicker Adam Vinatieri the wrong side of 40, it's possible the Colts may burn a late pick on a kicker such as All-American Anthony Fera of Texas, who Rob Rang of CBS Sports writes is an, "athletic and controlled striker with flexibility and natural bend to elevate his kicks and create proper trajectory."
Offensive line depth is always a priority for NFL teams, and Kyle J. Rodriguez of Bleacher Report looks for the Colts to go that route with their last pick with Tennessee guard Zach Fulton.
"With size and strength galore," Rodriguez said, "Fulton can overpower defensive linemen fairly easily once he gets a solid handle on them. He'd be a very good fit in a power-scheme offense."
Latest Draft Buzz
Here's a look at some of the latest draft news and rumors surrounding the Colts:
- There's a great deal of depth at the wide receiver and cornerback positions in the 2014 NFL draft, and the Colts have been investigating many of the mid-round options at those positions. On April 22, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun tweeted that the Colts met with Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens, while the National Football Post reported Clemson wideout Martavis Bryant also visited with the team.
- The Indianapolis Colts might not pick until 59th overall, but Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux were all drafted at No. 59. Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil and
- With no first-round pick this year, the Colts have been one of the league's quieter teams where predraft scuttlebutt is concerned. However Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star points out that it's a safe bet that the Colts will invest a pick on the offensive line this year, something that has occurred in every draft by the Colts since 2003.
- Chappell also offered his take on the Colts' first pick on May 2, predicting that Indy will draft Washington State safety Deone Bucannon at no. 59. "No longer can the team lean on Antonie Bethea," Chappell said. "It's time for a change, and the 6-1, 211-pounder could step in and play at a high level immediately."
- Wide receiver wouldn't appear to be an area of need for the Colts this year, but with both Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne entering contract years, general manager Ryan Grigson wouldn't rule out addressing the position in this year's draft. Grigson told Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, "If you're not constantly thinking about the future and what-ifs and doomsday scenarios ... you're left with a significant hole somewhere."
Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.