INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts made sure to take full advantage of the defensive depth in this year's draft.
In taking six defenders, the Colts' haul was the most on that side of the ball since 2010.
Here's a capsule look at the Colts' six defensive selections in 2017:
*Round 1, Pick 15: Ohio State Safety Malik Hooker (6-2, 205) *-2016 Stats: 13 games played (13 starts). Led the team with 74 tackles, 7 interceptions, 3 returned for a touchdown.
-Career Stats: 26 games played (13 starts) in three seasons. 84 career tackles, 7 interceptions, 3 returned for a touchdown.
-Interesting Fact: Hooker's three interceptions returned for a touchdown set an Ohio State school record. Hooker set the feat despite starting for just one season at Ohio State.
-Hooker's Quote to Note: "I was surprised (by the Colts taking me). I definitely didn't expect that at all. But when I saw the Indianapolis number pop up on my phone, I instantly got excited because the Colts used to be my favorite team growing up. It's even a better thing for me."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "We never thought that he'd be there at 15. We thought he was a top-10 pick ever since we laid eyes on this kid. He's a rare, rare athlete. He's an elite guy. He's a centerfielder. We know he's a ball hawk. Seven interceptions last year, he returned three of them (for touchdowns). He's a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the football. He returned three for touchdowns. He had 74 tackles. He obviously comes from a great, great program. Urban Meyer does as good of a job as anybody. He fit all the criteria. He's a really good kid. He's a special, special athlete. A really, really good player. He's got rare ball skills. Obviously, you guys know Greg Schiano was his position coach at Ohio State and Greg and I were together at the University of Miami, so we're close. We had long discussions about all their guys and obviously Malik was one of those guys. He was quoted as saying, 'This is the closest thing to Ed Reed.' We had Eddy down there and Greg was the defensive coordinator down there at the same time I was (there). That stood out to me. He's got that rare range, instincts and can make plays on the football. An elite athlete, again I can't emphasize that enough."
-Outlook: Need wise, a safety was not a must in the draft. Turnover wise, a player like Hooker was desperately needed. The Colts had 8 total interceptions last season. Hooker had 7 himself, in three less games. If you draft a guy 15th overall, you expect him to start. But how exactly the Colts will handle the safety position in 2017 remains to be seen. Clayton Geathers is a physical presence that can also slide down to linebacker. Darius Butler is your important veteran presence, making the switch back to safety. Second-year safety T.J. Green should factor into sub packages. But in Hooker, the Colts have a centerfielder who will be roaming hash mark to hash mark for years to come.*Round 2, Pick 46: Florida Cornerback Quincy Wilson (6-1, 213) *-2016 Stats: 13 games played (13 starts). 33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions.
-Career Stats: 39 games played (24 starts) in three seasons. 84 career tackles, 14 passes defensed and 6 interceptions.
-Interesting Fact: Per Pro Football Focus, Wilson's 22.9 quarterback rating allowed last year (16 catches in 49 targets) was the lowest for any SEC cornerback.
-Wilson's Quote to Note: "I'm just a shutdown corner. I feel like I frustrate a lot of receivers and get them off their game, and that's where I come in and make plays."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "Wilson is a good fit for what we want to do. Any defense I've ever been (with) – he'd of been a good fit in Chicago, he'd be a good fit in Kansas City. Big, athletic corners don't fall off trees. He's got a unique skillset. He's a big corner with long arms and good ball skills. He needs work, he knows it. He's confident, but he knows he's got to go to work to hit his ceiling."
-Outlook: The draft's biggest need was cornerback for the Colts. If the Colts were playing tomorrow, Quincy Wilson would probably be the starting cornerback opposite Vontae Davis. The length of Wilson is what the Colts want in their cornerbacks. The fact that he had the lowest passer rating of any SEC cornerback is a pretty strong indication of his NFL-readiness. When Wilson gets on the field next season, expect to hear some chatter from No. 31.*Round 3, Pick No. 80: Ohio Defensive End/Outside Linebacker Tarell Basham (6-4, 262) *-2016 Stats: 14 games played (14 starts). 50 total tackles (31 solo stops). Had 71 total pressures, the fifth most in the nation. 11.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss.
-Career Stats: 51 games played (37 starts) in four years of starting. 158 career tackles (80 solo tackles). 29.5 career sacks.
-Interesting Fact: Basham was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss in 2016.
-Basham's Quote To Note: "It was a bit of a surprise (going to the Colts). They did reach out to me at the combine. They told me they were interested and how important it was for them to get a defensive end and some pass rushers this year. Once they did pick me up I knew that I'd be right at home, somewhere that they wanted me to come in and start rushing the passer and make some plays."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "He's got good length. He's got long arms. He's got a really good get-off. I think he's a 1.67 10-time at the combine. He's got a great get-off and you see it on tape. You see his get-off on tape. He's got a good unique trait."
-Outlook: The pass rusher had to come in one of the first two days of the draft. Basham rounded out Friday night*after getting a feeling early on in the draft process that the Colts were seeking guys off the edge. What stood out to Chris Ballard was how Basham looked when Ohio played Tennessee last season. Basham had 2.0 sacks against the SEC opponent. The Colts have bodies at outside linebacker (Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Akeem Ayers, Barkevious Mingo, etc.), but they lack a pure pass rusher in that group. That's where the Colts hope Basham can provide a spark via pressure, which would thrust him onto the field early in 2017.Round 4, Pick 144: Albany State Defensive Tackle Grover Stewart (6-4, 347) *-2016 Stats: 9 games played (9 starts). 37 tackles. 7.5 sacks. 1 forced fumble.
-Career Stats: 39 games played (19 starts) in four collegiate seasons. 141 tackles, 27.0 career sacks.
-Interesting Fact: At 347 pounds, Stewart still had 27.0 career sacks playing for Division II Albany State.
-Stewart's Quote To Note: "Coming from D-II, and playing in the (NFLPA All-Star Game) I thought it was going to be a big change. But I was looking at everybody like, 'You're from D-I, you should be good or whatever.' But I put on my pads, lined up against them and did what I had to do. I don't see any difference between it. I'm going to play like I play and dominate like I always do."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "Our scout Jamie (Moore) did a great job with him. We think he's got great upside. It's going to take – so when we took Laurent Duvernay in Kansas City, now we took Laurent in the sixth round. We took this kid a little bit higher, but we believe in him and we have conviction that he's going to turn into a player. At the NFLPA game, I thought he was the best defensive lineman there. Stood out. For a big man, he can move. He can get off the ball. He's got strength. We think there's a lot of upside, and we think he can play three different spots."
-Outlook: After two straight picks on offense, the Colts went back to defense for the final pick of the fourth round. Stewart's first visit in the draft process was to Indianapolis and it will now be his professional home. Despite coming from the Division II level, Stewart's size and length stands out even on an NFL roster. Stewart will not be asked to play a starting role in his rookie season, but his ability to play all across the line, on every down, is something that could factor into the defensive line rotation. Chris Ballard is always going to look to the trenches during the draft, so this pick isn't a surprise, even though the defensive line will inevitably have to cut some quality players come the end of the preseason.
*Round 5, Pick 158: Temple Cornerback Nate Hairston (6-0, 193) *-2016 Stats: 14 games played (14 starts). 27 tackles (23 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions and five passes defensed.
-Career Stats: 43 games played (15 starts). Played just two seasons at cornerback. 40 tackles, six passes defensed, two interceptions.
-Interesting Fact: In 36 targets his way last season, Hairston did not allow a touchdown.
-Hariston's Quote To Note: "Ever since I got to Temple, my coaches always kind of joked with me, 'You'd be a good DB, you'd be a good DB.' I would always kind of shrug it off and one spring they asked me to do it and I went ahead and did it. At practice one day, Coach Todd Bowles, the head coach of the Jets was there and he told me after practice, 'Man, I think that if you continue playing corner, you'll be an NFL prospect.' Once I heard that from a head coach, I was 100 percent in."
-Chris Ballard's Thoughts: "He's a really good athlete. He's got length. He's got good speed. He's a former wideout. And he's tough. So we think from a back-end of the corner position, he's going to really push our guys on special teams. At every position you have your starters, and then on the back – so your fourth and fifth corner have got to be able to compete on (special) teams. And we think he can do that while he develops into a corner."
-Outlook: Do not let the fifth-round pick of Hairston fool you on potential playing time. The Colts could be leaning on Hairston for a starting-type role in 2017. With all cornerback spots behind Vontae Davis up for grabs, the selection of a second corner had to happen. The Colts love the instincts Hairston showed in just two seasons at cornerback (he was a wide receiver first at Temple). At Temple, Hairston did line up in some nickel/slot positions, an area the Colts must fill in 2017. Remember, with Davis in a contract year, the future at cornerback is an unknown for the Colts.
*Round 5, Pick 161: Northwestern Inside Linebacker Anthony Walker (6-1, 235) *-2016 Stats: 13 games played (13 starts). 105 tackles (62 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 interception, 5 passes defensed.
-Career Stats: 38 games played (33 starts) in three collegiate seasons. 278 tackles (155 solo), 39.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, 12 passes defensed.
-Interesting Fact: Walker, who trains in Florida with second-round pick Quincy Wilson, was an All-American in 2015.
-Walker's Quote To Note: "I was definitely excited going into the draft that I could end up in Indianapolis. But after not having contact with them after was kind of out of my hands. That was a good (Combine) interview. I loved it. Definitely loved every second of being in that meeting room. Definitely sincere guys, and I was definitely looking forward to it."
-Area Scout Chad Henry's Thoughts: "He's brilliant football wise. He's very smart. He's the son of a coach. He's a guy that takes extra film sessions with the head coach individually every week. He was a guy in our room at the Combine. To hear him talk football, he sounds like a coach and plays that way on the field."
-Outlook: As the Colts look for new leaders on defense, Walker brings those qualities. Walker was a junior captain at Northwestern and Henry was effusive in the presence the Northwestern linebacker has when talking. Walker hails from Florida and has that sort of 'Florida' speed, as 4.6 40-yard dash guy. Ever since the Colts parted ways with D'Qwell Jackson in February, the inside linebacker spots were anyone's guess. Throw Walker's name into the mix with returners Edwin Jackson/Antonio Morrison and newcomers Sean Spence/Jon Bostic for the open starting positions.
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