Perfect Picks: Indianapolis Colts
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Colts’ GM Chris Ballard has done an excellent job of team building in Indy. His missing piece was an Andrew Luck replacement. They squeezed the last drops out of Philip Rivers’ career to get to the playoffs last year and this time around Frank Reich will try to rekindle his past success with Carson Wentz. Another strong draft would be welcome and ease Wentz transition to the Colts.
Round 1 - Pick 21 - Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Frank Reich has attempted to find a solution at quarterback by trading for Carson Wentz. The least he can do is give him the protection and comfort of a clean pocket. GM Chris Ballard has prioritised the trenches but the loss of Anthony Costanzo to retirement was a big blow. Leaving the Colts with a hole at left tackle.
While pick 21 may be seen as a bit high for Alex Leatherwood, he is a solid offensive lineman. Having been a five star recruit to Alabama, Leatherwood graduated from guard to the left tackle spot and did a great job. He may not have the speed of movement of some of the higher ranked tackles but he has the length and power to succeed in the NFL. If not on the outside then definitely on the interior of the offensive line.
Round 2 - Pick 54 - Richie Grant, S, UCF
You would be excused from thinking that Malik Hooker had the potential to become the best safety in the league. It never panned out that way and after a solid but unspectacular career to date, it appears he will be searching for a new home this offseason. The emergence of Julian Blackmon as a rookie has helped mitigate the loss of Hooker.
However, further strengthening the position would be advisable. UCF’s Richie Grant is the type of chess piece that would fit right in. Comfortable as a two-high safety, single-high and even nickel defender, Grant would definitely bolster the Colts’ secondary options. While he can be over-instinctive and loose with tackling at times, the pairing of Grant and Blackmon would be enviable.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 127 - Jordan Smith, DE, UAB
Jordan Smith is an intriguing edge rusher in the middle rounds of this draft. He has bulked out his 6’6 frame and is beginning to put a pass rush plan together. After being a highly rated recruit to Florida, Smith had to sit out a year after being involved in a credit card scam. He then transferred to junior college, before landing with the Blazers. If a team is comfortable with his past then they could have a serious edge threat in the future.
The Colts would be a good spot for Smith. Despite DeForest Buckner adding star power to the defensive line they continue to struggle finding answers on the outside. Neither Kemoko Turay or Ben Banagu have done enough to make adding another edge rusher unnecessary. Smith and Buckner could form a very strong pass rush partnership in Indy.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 207 - Olaijah Griffin, CB, USC
With Xavier Rhodes’ future at cornerback uncertain it would help for the Colts to add more options in the secondary. They have had a difficult time in finding reliable corners. Before Rhodes, they spent a high pick on Quincy Wilson who never adjusted to life in the NFL.
Olaijah Griffin could be worth a look in the late rounds of the draft. The son of rapper Warren G is another strong athlete out of USC. While the traits and speed will appeal to teams the medical checks will be important for Griffin. Having suffered back issues throughout his college career it’s likely teams will have him as strictly a Day 3 prospect.
Draft In Full:
21. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (OT)
54. Richie Grant, UCF (S)
127. Jordan Smith, UAB (DE)
166. Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville (WR)
207. Olaijah Griffin, USC (CB)
243. Jordon Scott, Oregon (DT)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.