Indianapolis Colts Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
The first day of the NFL draft came and went, and the Indianapolis Colts were quiet. That was somewhat expected, even with Ryan Grigson's history with trades. Now, the Colts wait for the second round on Friday night.
The rest of the AFC South, however, was busy Thursday. The Houston Texans took DE Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall, while the Jacksonville Jaguars surprised everybody by taking QB Blake Bortles at No. 3. The Tennessee Titans' pick of OT Taylor Lewan was a bit of a surprise as well after signing Michael Oher this offseason.
But while the attention often rests on the big names in the first round, the second and third round of the draft is where the great general managers make their mark. Can Grigson make the most of his two earliest picks on Day 2? Which direction might the Colts be leaning? Those are the questions we look at as we look ahead to Rounds 2 and 3.
Day 1 Recap and Analysis
The Colts didn't pick in Round 1, but plenty of others did. How did those picks affect the Colts moving forward?
The AFC South
Houston's pick of Jadeveon Clowney is the biggest direct impact to the Colts. Clowney is a terrifying pass-rusher, and pairing him with J.J. Watt on the Houston defensive line is a long-term concern for Indianapolis. It also shows how much a top quarterback like Andrew Luck can impact the strategies of the rest of the division. It's reminiscent of the Texans taking Mario Williams in 2006 to stop Peyton Manning.
The Texans still, however, need a quarterback, just as they have for the vast majority of their existence as a franchise. They missed out on getting Teddy Bridgewater when Minnesota jumped ahead of them in a trade with Seattle at the end of Round 1. Derek Carr looks to be the best available, but the Texans do have options.
Jacksonville's pick of Blake Bortles is going to be intriguing to watch. If he develops well, the Jaguars could be a dangerous team in the AFC South, but he'll need weapons around him. Don't be surprised if Jacksonville targets a receiver early in the second round.
Meanwhile, Tennessee continues to add pieces for its offensive line, a strategy that hasn't worked thus far in the rebuilding. The Titans have multiple holes on their roster, and Lewan doesn't really fill one. If he was the consensus No. 1 left on the board, I understand, but I don't think it improves the Titans roster as much as other picks could have.
Losing Potential Targets
The run on safeties came at the end of the first round when Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon, each potential options in the second round, were picked by the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, respectively. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Terrence Brooks, the last of the top-tier safeties, is left when the Colts pick.
There are still, however, a good number of quality receivers left. There could be good value there at No. 59, as well as at interior line.
Updated Needs for the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts' needs haven't changed since the draft started.
The most pressing and immediate issue the Colts must address in 2014 is replacing Antoine Bethea at strong safety.
Going after a more traditional strong safety seems likely at this point, but Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star tweeted that Grigson has noted the importance of finding a safety who has some coverage skills as well. Delano Howell is currently slotted to be the starter at the position, although free-agent signing Colt Anderson could compete for the job as well.
Center has been a need for the last two years, as the team has never been able to adequately replace Jeff Saturday.
Samson Satele never worked out, and the team unceremoniously cut him earlier this offseason. After cutting Satele, it was clear that help would need to be brought in from outside the organization, as Khaled Holmes (and his 13 career snaps) was the only option at the position on the roster. So the Colts brought in Phil Costa, who promptly retired.
The Colts clearly need somebody to push Holmes, and the only question is whether that somebody warrants a high pick or not.
This is not as much of an immediate need, but this is a position that could be bare in Indianapolis as soon as next season, even after the signing of Hakeem Nicks this offseason. Only T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill are signed through 2015, and the Colts' lack of proven options after Reggie Wayne can bog down the offense at times.
A potential starting receiver in the draft would give the Colts insurance if Wayne's recovery from an ACL tear goes south, and it would also give them more flexibility with Nicks in the future.
Much like the receiver position, there is a lack of depth at cornerback. Vontae Davis is a very good starting corner, but Greg Toler is both perennially injured and inconsistent. If wide receiver talent is important for any team's offense to succeed, talent at cornerback is just as important for stopping said receivers.
The most important position on defense also happens to be one in which the Colts are drastically low on talent.
Robert Mathis is phenomenal, but he was forced to carry the entire team last season. Like Wayne, Mathis is aging, and there's no possible way to determine when he'll stop being effective. If the Colts have a top edge-rusher fall to them in Round 2, they should select him and have him learn behind Mathis for a year before becoming a high-end contributor.
Stopping the run is important, but the Colts have just one player who plays in the middle of the defense and excels at taking on double-teams. Josh Chapman is certainly an interesting player, but the team could use more competition at this spot.
Top Day 2 Targets
Round 2, No. 59 overall
WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
I targeted Matthews for Indianapolis early on in the draft process, and I still think he can be one of the draft's best possession receivers. With so many receivers left after one round, it's conceivable that he could drop into the late second. But, if he doesn't, there's other receiving options that may be.
Other receiving options: Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson
DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
One of the best potential edge-rushers available, Lawrence fits the profile of a rush outside linebacker beautifully and would be able to sit behind Robert Mathis and learn before being asked to take on a starting role.
Other edge-rushers available: Jeremiah Attaochu, Kyle Van Noy, Carl Bradford
G Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
It's hard to imagine Su'a-Filo lasting until No. 59, but if he slides down into the mid-second, he may be worth trading up for. Su'a-Filo is a phenomenal guard prospect who would solidify the Colts' shaky interior line.
Other interior line prospects: Joel Bitonio, Marcus Martin, Weston Richburg
Round 3, No. 90 overall
S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
I've targeted Reynolds in mocks before, and while he's not the guy I'd be ecstatic about getting, the run on safeties makes him the next realistic prospect. Reynolds wouldn't be an impact starter right away, but he could contribute from the get-go and could develop into a high-quality, versatile safety.
Other safeties: Dion Bailey, Marqueston Huff
NT DaQuan Jones, Penn State
The Colts depth chart is low on nose tackles, and if Jones falls into the third round, he definitely will get looks from Indianapolis. Some have Jones as a second-rounder, but I would target him in the third if I was in the Colts war room.
Other nose tackles: Justin Ellis, Daniel McCullers
CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida
A "football player," Watkins' only problem would be figuring out how best to use him. Watkins has a plethora of athletic ability and has played both cornerback and safety at Florida. He needs some refinement, but would be an excellent piece for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to use.
Other corners to watch: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Antone Exum, E.J. Gaines, Phillip Gaines
What Are the Experts Saying?
Matt Miller: Demarcus Lawrence and Dezmen Southward
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has Indianapolis taking Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence in the second round and Wisconsin S Dezmen Southward in the third round. Lawrence is a guy that fits perfectly in Indianapolis and is someone I've advocated for. Southward, on the other hand, doesn't excite me at all. I have him more in the fourth or fifth range.
Peter Schrager: Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Andre Williams
Peter Schrager of Fox Sports had a seven-round mock earlier this week and gave the Colts Nebraska corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Boston College running back Andre Williams. It's a bit of an odd draft for Indianapolis, especially with S Terrence Brooks still on the board for both picks. Jean-Baptiste fits the team and fills a need, but Williams would neither be the best player available or be filling one of the bigger needs.
McShay and Kiper: Xavier Su'a-Filo and Bryan Stork
The ESPN duo (subscription required) gave the Colts interior linemen in their three-round mock last week. Todd McShay gave the Colts UCLA G Xavier Su'a-Filo in the second round, while Kiper grabbed Florida State center Bryan Stork. The Stork pick doesn't make a ton of sense after Su'a-Filo in Round 2, but Su'a-Filo is great value and would be a phenomenal pick if he drops.
3 Predictions for Day 2
The Colts Trade
Whether it happens in Round 2 or Round 3, the Colts aren't going to just sit around and wait for their picks. Ryan Grigson is one of the most aggressive GMs in the league, and I don't see any reason for that to change.
Draft a Safety in the Third Round
Even with all of the top safeties off the board early, the Colts may get stuck needing to draft one. I would like them to go "BPA" with every pick, so reaching for a safety wouldn't get me excited. But at the same time, the depth in this draft means they might be able to get a safety that isn't first or second-tier, but still a good player.
But Grigson has never been predictable in his drafting, and I see no reason for him to start now.
At least one of the Colts' picks will be a guy that nobody has heard of, or at least nobody has prepared for. As previously stated, Grigson is incredibly unpredictable when it comes to drafting, much like former Colts GM Bill Polian was in some ways.
None of the Colts' picks were guys who were often mocked to them or even discussed as possibilities last season. If none of our potential target prospects are picked up, don't be surprised.
Updated Indianapolis Colts Mock Draft
With all of our mocked players still on the board, I see no reason to change things up now. The one possibility that I would look at is drafting a wide receiver in that second round considering the talent available. But in the end, if Demarcus Lawrence or a similar caliber pass-rusher is there, that is hard to pass up.
Second Round, No. 59: DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
The Colts need an outside linebacker who can rush the passer, and Lawrence would have an opportunity to learn for a year or two behind one of the best in Robert Mathis. Safety likely has the best chance of any position of being addressed here, but if there's a run at the position early on, Lawrence could be the choice instead.
Third Round, No. 90: S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
If the Colts don't get a safety in the second round, they are sure to strongly consider drafting one in the third. Reynolds has the versatility the Colts need at the position.
Fifth Round, No. 166: CB Walt Aikens, Liberty
A high-upside corner, Aikens is a bit raw but plays very physical and has fantastic length. If Chuck Pagano has any defensive back development secrets left, Aikens could benefit greatly.
Sixth Round, No. 203: RB Dri Archer, Kent State
Archer would give the Colts another explosive weapon on offense and a potential special teams contributor as well. Since the Colts didn't go with a wide receiver early on, I'd love to see them pick up a running back who can contribute.
Seventh Round, No. 232: C Corey Linsley, Ohio State
A team depleted of talent on the interior of the offensive line has to bring in more competition at some point. Linsley is a very smart center who could end up being a steal if he's still around this late.