Draft needs and prospect fits for the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were very active in free agency, as they brought in Jabaal Sheard, Sean Spence, John Simon, and Barkevious Mingo to bolster a weak LB corps, as well as WR Kamar Aiken, who should have the opportunity to make a significant contribution working with a quarterback the caliber of Andrew Luck. However, this roster is still likely the least-talented in the AFC South, thus Indianapolis needs to strike gold at the end of the month in order to keep pace with the rest an improving division.
Need: Running back
Indianapolis running backs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last season, and collectively the Colts’ run game forced just 32 total missed tackles on 409 carries. Frank Gore is still the feature back, averaging under 4.0 yards per carry each of the past two seasons, and he had his worst season of his career in terms of elusiveness. Considering he turns 34 next month, finding a long-term option at the position is paramount for the Colts.
Early-round target: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
McCaffrey is a no-brainer option should he still be on the board at No. 15 overall, as he is a patient runner who sets up his blocks well and is a constant home-run threat once in the open field. Over the past two seasons at Stanford, he forced 115 missed tackles with just three fumbles on 589 carries, and also hauled in 83 passes while forcing another 35 whiffs as a receiver out of the backfield. His ability to be such a versatile threat (he’s also a dynamic returner) makes him an ideal pairing with Luck.
Mid- or late-round target: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
Speaking of elusiveness, there is no one in college football that has done a better job of making defenders look foolish over the past three seasons than Pumphrey. The former Aztec forced a ridiculous 208 missed tackles on 938 carries in that time span. Despite his stature, he isn’t afraid to attack between the tackles, and also looks to have a knack for the end zone, with 54 touchdowns on the ground since 2014. He also hauled in 80 catches in that time span, a skill that would likely be more heavily utilized in Indianapolis.
Vontae Davis is one of the top defensive players on the Indianapolis roster, but outside of him, the Colts lack a sure-fire No. 2 or nickel cornerback. Rashaan Melvin showed some flashes down the stretch with six pass breakups and just 25 catches allowed on 47 targets during the final eight games of the season, but regardless of how he progresses this season, the departure of Patrick Robinson for Philadelphia leaves a vacancy. The Colts are in luck, however (no pun intended), as this is one of the deepest cornerback classes in the last decade.
Early-round target: Tre’Davious White, LSU
Tre’Davious White is a hyper-aggressive corner who plays with excellent instincts and gave up completions on just 41.7 percent of passes thrown into his coverage last season. He also displayed excellent ball skills, with 14 total passes breakups in 2014. He also proved to be a solid tackler, missing just five last year. While his combine 40-yard-dash time of 4.47 seconds seems more in line with his play than his reported 4.33 from his pro day this past week, he is still a solid athlete with the all-around game to warrant a pick this high.
Mid- or late-round target: Channing Stribling, Michigan
At 6-foot-1, 188 pounds, Stribling has a similar size profile to Melvin, and was able to use that length to help him pick off four passes and break up another 11 in 2016, while yielding a minuscule 22.7 QB rating on throws into his coverage. While he isn’t a top athlete and needs to improve his play against the run, his draft stock is being hurt more so by the depth of this class than his play on the field. He should be available on Day 3, despite looking like a potential starter at the next level.
Need: Nose tackle
Nose tackle David Parry’s 45.1 run-defense grade in 2016 should be cause for concern, as he played more than 200 total snaps than any other defensive lineman on the Colts’ roster last season, and at a well-below average level. T.Y. McGill showed some promise as a pass-rusher (20 total pressures on 244 rushes), but Indianapolis would do well to upgrade the position, especially the run-defense aspect.
Early-round target: Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
Tomlinson was an excellent block-shedder for Alabama, and frequently required double-teams in order to be contained. He frequently wins with his strong initial punch, which lets him get into his man and control both gaps with regularity. He also possesses very good quickness off the ball, which helped him on his way to 43 QB pressures in 2016. His 23 run stops last season tied for the most among SEC draft-eligible interior players, making Tomlinson a solid Day 2 option.
Mid- or late-round target: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, USC
While no one will ever accuse Tu’ikolovatu of being an explosive pass-rusher, he certainly looks the part of a potentially dominant run-stuffer. In 2016 he posted 36 run stops (second-most among FBS interior defenders) with no missed tackles, helping him to finish third in run-stop percentage among all defensive tackles. His almost uncommon strength makes him a near impossible matchup for individual blockers, making him the perfect mid-round space-eater inside for a team in desperate need of improving its run defense.