INDIANAPOLIS– The often-used cliché for most NFL general managers is that when it comes to the NFL Draft, you're more likely to pick the best player on the board rather than pick for a specific team need.
Luckily for the Indianapolis Colts, the team was able to check both boxes last year in the first round, when they selected Alabama center Ryan Kelly with the 18th-overall pick.
This year, while the team certainly has a bevy of needs it will want to address at multiple positions, the Colts will have their share of talented players on offense and defense to choose from when they go on the clock on the middle of the first round.
And, if a guy like Leonard Fournette is sitting there when it's time for the Colts to pick, one can imagine it'll be hard to pass him up.
Fournette, the ultra-talented LSU running back, is the player CBSSports.com's Dan Brugler believes the Colts will take in the first round this year. You can check out Brugler's most recent mock draft by clicking here; and here's what he wrote about the Colts and Fournette:
"Is running back the top need for the Colts this offseason? No. But with a talent like Fournette still available for them in this scenario, it would be easy to see general manager Ryan Grigson drafting the uber-talented ballcarrier."
Brugler is right: running back is not the top need for the Colts going into the NFL Draft. And Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has said so himself, as the team expects veteran Frank Gore and speedster Josh Ferguson to return next season, while backup Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman will each likely be unrestricted free agents (though Turbin has expressed a desire to return to the team in 2017).
Asked late in the season if he was looking to pick up any running backs in the draft, Grigson, after praising the talent the team already has at the position, stuck with the company line.
"There will be plenty of running backs in the draft," Grigson said. "So we'll look at every position, and we'll try to follow our board the best we can, and implement the talent the best way we see fit."
But, as mentioned, it would be tough for any general manager to pass up the opportunity to take a guy like Fournette, who has displayed elite power and speed throughout his college career.
A bruiser at 6 foot 1 and 235 pounds, Fournette, an All-American, battled through an ankle injury in 2016 to become the fastest in school history to reach 3,000 rushing yards. On Oct. 22, he returned from injury to run for a then-school record 284 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-21 victory over Ole Miss.
In his career, Fournette finished with 616 total carries for 3,830 yards (for a crazy 6.2 yards-per-carry average) with 40 touchdowns. He also caught 41 passes for
Fournette also returned 25 kickoffs for 625 total yards, and had a 100-yard touchdown return to his credit.
He does have some tread on the tires already – as well as that aforementioned ankle injury history – that might scare off some teams. But Fournette's combination of power, agility, speed and size certainly puts him right up there with some of the other great running backs to be taken in the first round in recent years, and it'll be interesting to see where he lands.