2017 NFL Draft: Is Michigan's Taco Charlton A Can't-Miss For The Colts?

Intro: In his latest mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Indianapolis Colts selecting Michigan edge rusher Taco Charlton with their first-round pick. What does Charlton bring to the table?

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts need young, talented pass rushers.

Taco Charlton is certainly a young, talented pass rusher.

The Michigan product is one of the top edge defenders in this year's NFL Draft class, and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller believes Charlton would be an ideal fit with the Horseshoe.

In his most recent mock draft, Miller has the Colts taking Charlton with the 15th-overall pick. You can see Miller's entire mock draft by clicking here, but here's his explanation for the pick for Indy:

"New general manager Chris Ballard comes from Kansas City and will instantly be tasked with giving Andrew Luck a supporting cast good enough to make a Super Bowl run. If recent history is any indicator of what works in the NFL, adding a pass-rusher who can scare opposing quarterbacks is first on the list of must-haves.

Taco Charlton can be inconsistent, but when he turns his motor on all the way, it's an impressive sight to see. He's long, athletic and has the hips to turn the corner and create issues for offenses. He's more Chandler Jones than Von Miller in terms of body and strength, but at Michigan he has proved to be the type of force off the edge who can wreak havoc on passing downs.

With needs across the board, Ballard and his staff could entertain a cornerback or running back here, but giving the defense their own leader and a player to build around should take precedent this offseason."

A "type of force off the edge who can wreak havoc on passing downs" is something the Colts are no stranger to in their recent past, as they proudly trotted out potential future Hall of Famers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who terrorized quarterbacks for much of the past decade and a half.

But after Freeney moved on from the Colts a few years back, and with Mathis' retirement following the 2016 season, the Indianapolis defense is in need of some new blood at the position. Could a guy like Charlton fill those shoes?

One thing that seems clear about a guy like Charlton is his best football is clearly ahead of him. According to his NFL.com Draft Profile, he "continually improved during his Michigan career," and his hard work paid off last season, as he earned First Team All-Big Ten honors after leading the Wolverines with 9.5 sacks and had 13 tackles for loss.

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein writes that Charlton is a "rare combination of size, length and athletic traits as a rusher," and also compares him to the likes of Jones, the 6 foot 5, 247-pound pass rusher who has accumulated 47 sacks in his first five seasons with the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals.

"Brings freaky athletic traits to table and is still growing into his body," Zierlein writes. "Flashes instant reaction time off snap and up the field thanks to his twitch. Has enough upfield juice to push offensive tackles into hasty retreat. Generates pop through speed-to-power element. Very good flexibility throughout. Able to sink and swerve around corner if he gets early lead in race to the edge. Possesses hip swivel combined with shoulder turn to slip and flip around the corner of an offensive tackle he's engaged with as a pass rusher."

Charlton recently showed off some of those skills in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where he ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash, showcased a 33-inch vertical and had a 116.0-inch performance in the broad jump.

Charlton is one of many pass rushers who have been linked to the Colts as possible options for their first-round pick, along with Derek Barnett, Takkarist McKinley and Tim Williams.

Any one of those players would likely be welcomed additions for the Colts at outside linebacker, which could see major changes in 2017. Not only is Mathis gone, but veterans Erik Walden, Trent Cole and Chris Carter head into the offseason as unrestricted free agents.

Youngsters like Curt Maggitt and Alex Bazzie, who starred in the Canadian Football League, will certainly get a shot to show what they can do now that the path has been cleared.

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.

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