Indianapolis Colts Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer
It took 58 picks before the Colts finally made an addition, but they're here now, and they've definitely improved. The Colts addressed two needs with their two picks, and they now have plenty of options as they go into the final day of the draft.
With three picks left, this is where general manager Ryan Grigson needs to excel. Grigson has missed on these players so far in his two years (from what we've seen so far, that is) and the team's depth has suffered because of it. The Colts desperately need to improve that depth, and the Colts have a chance to do so in one of the deepest drafts in recent history.
So what can we expect from Rounds 4-7? What should the Colts do and why? We look at all of the potential scenarios in our Day 3 primer.
Day 2 Recap & Analysis
The Colts made two selections on Day 2. First, they selected OT Jack Mewhort of Ohio State in the second round (No. 59 overall). Then they selected WR Donte Moncrief of Mississippi with their third-round selection (No. 90 overall).
Overall, the two picks are a solid day for Indianapolis. Moncrief is an excellent long-term prospect to replace Reggie Wayne, while Mewhort helps stabilize the offensive line depth at the very least. If you would have told me earlier this week that the Colts would get those two out of Day 2, I would have been content.
In a vacuum, I didn't like the Mewhort pick. The selection seems odd in the second round. Mewhort is a solid player with great technique and good size, but his most valued asset is his versatility. If the team wanted to get a really good guard, there was one available (Gabe Jackson). If they wanted a really good center, there was one available (Marcus Martin). Instead, they got a player who could be dependable at five positions but not great at any. That seems like the kind of player you could get later in the draft.
The versatility certainly has value, but in this draft, with this kind of depth, I would target a more dynamic talent in the second round.
Moncrief, on the other hand, was an excellent value pick. Most had Moncrief as a second-round talent, but the Colts were able to get him in the third round. Moncrief has all the physical tools you need, and he is a hard worker as well. He'll be groomed by veterans Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks before taking on a bigger role in 2015.
Updated Needs for the Indianapolis Colts
With Mewhort and Moncrief, offensive line and wide receiver are off the board as top needs but several needs remain, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Colts have still not addressed the safety position, the biggest hole in the Colts' starting lineups.
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.
Having addressed the long-term standings of wide receiver, the Colts should do the same with cornerback on Day 3 of the draft. The Colts need potential developmental starters in the defensive backfield, as well as depth.
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 5, 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 3 Targets
CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
A big, physical cornerback, Desir is a Day 2 talent that has slipped. There is a low chance of him getting to the Colts' pick at No. 166, but he's the kind of talent that would be worth trading up for. Desir has the potential to develop into an excellent, physical press cornerback.
S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Like Desir, Reynolds may not last until the late fifth round, but he's the kind of safety that the Colts need, versatile and physical. He would give Delano Howell good competition at the safety position.
CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida
Give a guy like Watkins to the defense to use, there are plenty of ways. Watkins played corner and safety at Florida, and he has the kind of versatility the Colts could use in an injury-prone defensive backfield. Give the Colts that versatility and let Chuck Pagano mold him into the best tool that he can be.
OLB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
The Colts spent time with Bradford at his pro day at Arizona State, and it's surprising he's lasted this long. He's the best outside linebacker talent left on the board, and the Colts need depth at the linebacker position. Bradford likely won't be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL, but he can play either down or standing up, inside or outside. He can blitz or drop back. If you're sensing a pattern with these prospects, there's a reason for that.
ILB Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
A nickel linebacker in the NFL, Smallwood would add to the depth at inside linebacker and give the Colts more pass-rushing options from the inside linebacker spot. He'd contribute right away on special teams and allow the Colts to move on from some of the unreliable depth in the rotation.
S Craig Loston, LSU
A good in-the-box defender at LSU, Loston projects as a strong safety in the NFL. He was a strong locker-room presence at LSU, and he would fit in with the Colts' locker room very well. For a strong safety, his route recognition and football I.Q. are very high. He'd also be an exceptional special teams player right away.
What Are the Experts Saying?
Matt Miller Projects Kenny Ladler
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projected Kenny Ladler to the Colts in the fifth round last week, a move that still makes sense after picking Moncrief and Mewhort. Ladler, a former Vanderbilt free safety, is a high-character safety with fluid movements and a long, lean build. His instincts aren't ideal for a single-high safety, however, and his projection in Indianapolis is likely in the strong safety role.
Peter Schrager Sends Jeoffrey Pagan to Indianapolis
Fox Sports' Peter Schrager sent defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan to Indianapolis in his seven-round mock. Schrager is a run-stuffing defensive tackle that doesn't bring much to the Colts except depth.
3 Predictions for Day 3
Defense, Defense, Defense
Going both offense on Day 2, the third day has to be focused mainly on defense, right? All of the Colts' current needs are now defense, and while I'm all for going with the best player available, the Colts have to focus on defense for the majority of the final day. If they don't, they could give up 25 points a game next season.
The Grigson move hasn't come yet. The most likely scenario for a trade in the early round was to move back, and the Colts had their top guys on their boards available in the second and third, making a move unnecessary. But look for Grigson to try to land an extra pick later in this draft, or potentially move up into the fourth and grab a defensive back, much like he did in 2013 with Montori Hughes.
Fans Will be Disappointed
Grigson has a habit of selecting players fans have never heard of, and that'll probably be the theme on Day 3. Players will be mysteries to fans and that'll lead to some disappointments. The picks on Day 3 should be judged theoretically by the position and fit for now. We'll see the player's actual talent later.
Updated Indianapolis Colts Mock Draft
Fifth Round, No. 166: S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
Watch for the Colts to get a safety in the fifth round but not one of the top guys left unless they trade up. A strong safety, Dixon would add a potential enforcer to the Colts' safety depth.
Sixth Round, No. 203: CB Walt Aikens, Liberty
I still like Aikens to the Colts, but I think he could slide down into the sixth or seventh, looking at the defensive back talent still available. With the prototypical size, Aikens is a developmental pick.
Seventh Round, No. 232: OLB Jordan Tripp, Montana
Tripp can play either inside or outside linebacker, and he is an aggressive, attacking player with a nose for the ball. He's one of those high-motor guys that will be visible on the field, even on special teams. He had some of the best shuttle and three-cone times at the combine, per NFL.com, and he could surprise people in training camp.