INDIANAPOLIS — Cornerback? Outside linebacker? Running back?
What position will ultimately win out next Thursday night, when the Indianapolis Colts are officially on the clock for the first time in the 2017 NFL Draft?
There are obviously tons of options for first-year Colts general manager Chris Ballard and his staff with the 15th-overall pick. While Ballard said he'd also entertain the possibility of trading down to acquire more picks, he also said it's important not to draft for need when it comes to such valuable assets.
"I don't ever want to pass up a really good player that I think has a long career in this league that fits our criteria of what we want," Ballard said in his pre-draft press conference. "We will always be looking to add. If there is a player in a round that we identify and we say, 'Okay, this is a guy that we think will be a good Colt and fits our criteria,' then we won't pass that guy up."
With the team's draft board obviously a secret, there are quite a few draft experts who have given their two cents on what they think the Colts should do with their first-round pick (and/or what they think the Colts will do with that selection).
Two of the best in the business are ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. The duo has been hard at work for months, trying to get the best feel possible for which prospects will be headed where, and accordingly have released several mock drafts along the way.
In his most recent mock draft, Kiper has the Colts selecting LSU running back Leonard Fournette with their first-round pick. McShay, meanwhile, also has Indy going offense at No. 15 overall in his latest mock, but going with an offensive lineman in the first round for a second straight year by selecting Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp (note: ESPN Insider access required to view the entire articles).
But while you could read up on all the latest mock drafts to get a feel for what the Colts could do on Thursday night, there are, of course, 31 other teams involved in this process — three of which are also looking to immediately improve their stock in the AFC South Division.
So let's take a look at those three divisional teams — the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans — and see what Kiper and McShay believe would be solid choices for them in the first round.
Houston Texans (25th overall):
Kiper: Cam Robinson, tackle, Alabama
McShay: Ryan Ramczyk, tackle, Wisconsin
McShay explains: "Ramczyk, who played only one year of major college football after transferring from Division III, is a fringe first-round talent, but so was everyone else still on the board at No. 25 (yes, including the quarterbacks). Houston has a major need at right tackle. Does Ramczyk have the skill set to make that transition after playing on the left side in college? Private workouts could help sway teams one way or another."Jacksonville Jaguars (fourth overall):
Kiper: Jonathan Allen, defensive lineman, Alabama
McShay: Jonathan Allen, defensive lineman, Alabama
McShay explains: "I know the Jaguars have spent big on their defensive line the past two offseasons, but Allen is the rare D-lineman who can be an elite run defender and an elite pass-rusher while playing multiple positions up front. Alabama TE O.J. Howard will be an option for Jacksonville at No. 4, but I passed because of the tight end depth in this class."
Tennessee Titans (5th and 18th overall):
Kiper: Reuben Foster, inside linebacker, Alabama (fifth overall); Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Alabama (18th overall)
McShay: Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State (fifth overall); John Ross, wide receiver, Washington (18th overall)
McShay explains: "With two of the first 18 picks, Tennessee has a chance to hit an absolute home run in the first round. Based on this exercise, I addressed two of the Titans' three biggest needs with those selections. Lattimore would give Tennessee a pure cover corner to play opposite of free-agent acquisition Logan Ryan. I worry a little about Ross' durability, but if he can stay healthy, watch out. He's the rare college speedster (4.22 40) who's also an adept route runner."
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.