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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are in great shape as they approach the 2019 NFL Draft.
They have six selections within the first 150 picks, including two second and two fourth-round picks. Today, we look into some of the best players that may be available to them with their selections in Round 2 — No. 34 and No. 59 overall.
If you missed it Tuesday morning, here are 15 of the top options that may be available for the Colts in the first round.
Because the Colts have multiple picks in the second round, and they are at opposite ends of the round, I've expanded this list to 20 players.
These aren’t the only good options that may be available to the Colts — unexpected players slide every year — but these players are those that I’ve weighed the likelihood of being available along with what position groups Indianapolis may need most, and how these players specifically fit what the Colts normally look for. There are also players that teams will sometimes bend their positional standards to accommodate if they feel that player is special.
*The following players are listed alphabetically.
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown | Wide Receiver | Oklahoma
Brown is missing most of the physical part of the pre-draft process due to recovering from Lisfranc surgery on his foot, but he may be cleared by his new team's rookie minicamp. Foot injuries are typically a big deal, especially for players whose game puts such a premium on their speed like Brown's does. However, the fact that he may already be cleared to participate in team activities within a month is a big plus.
As a player, Brown conjures visions of small and fast but well-rounded NFL receivers like Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill, T.Y. Hilton or DeSean Jackson. Brown's cousin is also Oakland Raiders 5-10 receiver Antonio Brown, so height isn't always everything. Along those line, "Hollywood" has a nice football lineage, as his uncle — Antonio's father — is legendary Arena Football League receiver, "Touchdown" Eddie Brown.
Marquise Brown is a fast player, yes — maybe the fastest in this draft class — but he can also run routes well, has really good hands and contributes more than just as a deep downfield threat. He can turn a five-yard catch into a 70-yard touchdown and will likely command safety help over the top. However, he likely won’t contribute much in contested-catch situations.
Parris Campbell | Wide Receiver | Ohio State
Campbell's best football is likely ahead of him as he’s likely capable of more than what we saw at Ohio State. He was used in a lot of quick-passing, chain-moving situations despite his field-stretching speed. Much of that may have been his ability to make moves after the catch and gain extra yards.
With Campbell's build and blend of speed and quickness, he could be a really good slot receiver in the NFL as well, but his team could feasibly see him as an outside receiver. He has the makeup for it. Campbell does need to work on speeding up his footwork, especially in his release. He could also stand to hit the JUGS machine to work on his hands, but overall he has a lot of potential as a playmaker.
L.J. Collier | Defensive Lineman | TCU
Collier was an edge defender at TCU, but at 6-2, 283 and with his toughness, play strength and "phone booth" agility, he'd make a great candidate for the Colts to slide him inside to three-technique.
He didn't become a full-time starter until his redshirt senior season, and there was clear development shown as a pass rusher as 2018 went on, so perhaps his best is yet to come. Regardless, Collier's traits still may make him more effective inside in a 4-3 system long term than he would as an edge rusher.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson | Safety | Florida
To me, Gardner-Johnson is hands down the best, most complete safety in this class and is not being talked about enough. He doesn't bring elite measurables or athleticism to the table, but he makes up for it in versatility, instincts and football IQ. You see him lined up as a deep safety, in the box and covering the slot. Florida even occasionally deployed him as a pass rusher, of which he proved to be capable. Gardner-Johnson reads the offense very well and puts himself in position to make the play, whether it's a tackle for loss on an outside run or screen, or it's sprinting across the field to intercept a deep pass.
Dexter Lawrence | Defensive Tackle | Clemson
Over the last month or so, a vast amount of national mock drafts have had the Colts taking Lawrence in the first round. I'm not against Lawrence as a player, but it feels more appropriate in the second round. What it boils down to is that Lawrence is an excellent, space-eating run defender at 6-4, 342, and he has pretty good athleticism for a guy of his size. However, almost every year, teams pass up some really good (and more valuable) players in favor of these huge athletes that often don't provide much in the way of an interior pass rush. Not every huge, athletic defensive tackle is Haloti Ngata or Vince Wilfork, and teams get caught in that trap pretty regularly.
Now, what Lawrence does do is he often disrupts the interior offensive line harmony to reroute the ball carrier. He also has plenty of power to get himself free from blocks and gets to the ball carrier himself. However, if you're banking on him being that player in the NFL and hopefully providing more push on the quarterback's pocket, he'll need to do it on a much more consistent basis.
Justin Layne | Cornerback | Michigan State
Layne is relatively fresh at the cornerback position after being moved there from wide receiver during his freshman season in 2016. Michigan State still valued his abilities as an offensive player, occasionally putting him out there as recently as 2018. Layne has good length at 6-1 with an 80-inch wingspan, and adequate speed. If he can get a little more physical and prevent receivers from consistently getting the inside track on him on inside routes, then he'll have really good coverage abilities overall. He's definitely an ascending prospect, especially if he lands with a nice defensive back coaching staff.
Trayvon Mullen | Cornerback | Clemson
Mullen is a relatively clean prospect with good size and length (6-1, 199 with a 75-inch wingspan), speed (4.46 40-yard dash) and coverage abilities. His speed and quick hips allows him to change direction quickly and stick with his man. He's not all that physical, but he gets his hands on the receiver in man coverage to jam them up a bit.
Charles Omenihu | Defensive Lineman | Texas
From a Colts perspective, Omenihu is cut along the Denico Autry/Margus Hunt cloth, where his frame (6-5, 280, 85-inch wingspan) and versatility allows him to play anywhere along a four-man front. He’s effective at both rushing off the edge and redirecting inside. When playing the run, he shoots gaps and cuts into the backfield. Omenihu fits the mold of what the Colts have in Hunt and Autry, as a lengthy player whose size allows him to hold up and be explosive inside while not losing much athletically when lined up outside.
Amani Oruwariye | Cornerback | Penn State
Oruwariye is the perfect corner for the Colts here in Round 2, and that's if another team doesn't fall in love and take him in the first. He has great size (6-1, 205), athleticism, closing speed (4.47 40) and ball skills, which could make him fit right in to the Colts' heavy-zone defense. He’s physical against receivers, getting his hands on them to throw them off their route. In a league that offers many top-end receivers with great size, you always want a corner who can match up physically with those types of players.
Taylor Rapp | Safety | Washington
Once thought to be a safe first-round pick, Rapp's pre-draft testing was less than desirable, even though he looks better on film. The concern appears to be downfield speed when tested deep, because when pursuing thing in his vicinity, his closing speed is very good. He’s not spectacular at any one thing, but he’s a very balanced player who gives good effort and makes plays. His versatility is his speciality, as you see him up high, in the box, in the slot and as a blitzer. Rapp is tough for his size (5-11, 208), which isn’t a red flag, but more of an observation.
Deebo Samuel | Wide Receiver | South Carolina
Samuel reminds me of a mix of Carolina Panthers' second-year receiver D.J. Moore and the New York Giants' Golden Tate. Samuel has that squat build at 5-11, 214, he runs good routes, is pretty agile and is great with the ball in his hands. He may find himself as a slot receiver in the NFL. He primarily lined up wide on the left side at South Carolina, but did occasionally move around to play the slot on both sides. How will NFL coaches look to line him up?
South Carolina clearly wanted to get the ball in Samuel’s hands however they could, as you saw a lot of quick screen and flare routes to him so he could try and make a play after the catch. Overall, he had 148 career receptions and 25 carries to go with 42 kick returns and two punt returns on special teams.
Although he was healthy in 2018, past injuries are a concern. Samuel missed 20 games in college due to injury — seven in 2015 and three in 2016 for hamstrings, and 10 in 2017 for a broken fibula. Because of how much time he spent injured earlier in his career, but then bounced back to play all of 2018, his best football should absolutely be in front of him. His quarterbacking was really inconsistent, so playing with a more accurate quarterback will likely do Samuel wonders.
Darnell Savage | Safety | Maryland
I don't take this comparison lightly, but for Colts fans that miss Bob Sanders (who doesn't?), this is your guy. That's not necessarily a career projection, but their stature and play styles are very similar. Savage is instinctive, has some serious burst and gets to the ball carrier like a heat-seeking missile. He routinely makes plays in the backfield even while he's in the secondary and not even lined up in the box. Savage plays a lot of high safety but has the range to appear like an in-box enforcer.
With his all-out play, he can miss some occasional tackles from being too aggressive. Savage is at his best while keeping the game in front of him and using his instincts to track the ball. There are some concerns about how he would look tracking the ball behind him, deep downfield. However, he did run a 4.36 40, so that at least puts him near position to make a play. That and only being 5-10 are the only reasons I can think Savage isn’t higher regarded as one of the top few safeties in this class.
Irv Smith Jr. | Tight End | Alabama
Smith might be the best blocker among this year’s top three tight ends, Smith, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. He was moved all over the formation, including the backfield to become a lead blocker for a hard-nosed offense like Alabama's, so that should say something. Smith does pretty much everything well; he has good hands, runs good routes and is a really good blocker. However, although he has good tight end speed, he doesn't offer a lot after the catch.
Jace Sternberger | Tight End | Texas A&M
This playmaker is very underrated this year, and it's only because he has a heavy group of top talent ahead of him on many boards in Fant, Hockenson and Smith. Sternberger is a playmaker who might have the best hands of any tight end in this class. Although he didn't perform particularly well at the Combine, he has adequate speed before and after the catch, is a tough and willing blocker, and has a broad catch radius. He needs some coaching on his in-line blocking especially, but has a huge ceiling.
Deionte Thompson | Safety | Alabama
Alabama has a top safety prospect every year, and now it's Thompson's turn. He is a really nice single-high free safety prospect. He covers well, even from the slot, and is not afraid to hit. He makes plays on the ball and has the ability to come down with it. He does, however, need to become a more disciplined tackler. If the hit isn't clearly there to make, he'll usually fly at the ball carrier's feet. With only one year of full-time starting experience, his best seems yet to come.
Juan Thornhill | Safety | Virginia
Thornhill is another free safety who can play deep or in the slot. He's not likely going to be one that you line up in the box being that he doesn't have a great feel against the run and isn't much of a thumper. However, if he’s picked anywhere outside of the first couple rounds, then I think he’s this year’s Jessie Bates; a safety not picked early but who will quickly play like he was. He’s fast, quick, rangy, has good instincts and ball skills. He’s not very physical, but you're not drafting him to be. Like a poor man's Malik Hooker, Thornhill is there to take away the downfield portion of the field and make plays when quarterbacks test him.
Mack Wilson | Linebacker | Alabama
The NFL will go to the well on an Alabama linebacker once again this year when Wilson is selected. He’s got some physical attributes to make him a decent player, but he plays without a good deal of discipline currently, especially when tracking and approaching the ball carrier. A starting NFL linebacker must do a better job at wrapping up and tackling than what Wilson last showed in Tuscaloosa. He does, however, have good play speed which includes his closing speed on the ball. He also attacks the ball and doesn't just wait for it to come to him, which is a good sign of aggression. Wilson has traits that could make him a three-down linebacker since he roams and covers well and knows who he needs to pick up.
Chase Winovich | Edge Defender | Michigan
Winovich is a tenacious player with a non-stop motor and who only knows one speed. He's a savvy pass rusher that wins with hands, technique and strength rather than pure athleticism, as he lacks great flexibility and bend. The long, blonde hair makes it easy to remind you of Clay Matthews (he’s not as athletic as Clay), but Winovich actually does resemble Matthews as a player. Both give all-out effort against the run and pass, and leave it all on the field. That sometimes gets them in trouble, as their attacking mentality can completely take them out of the play if they misjudge where the ball is going.
Oshane Ximines | Edge Defender | Old Dominion
When considering a player from a smaller school like Ximines, an Old Dominion/Conference USA product, you want their tape to show a consistent high level of play, and his does just that. He’s a high-energy pass rusher with obvious traits to work with. He had respectable, albeit unspectacular, scores at the Combine in the explosion and movement drills, and his pass rush moves will be evident from Day 1. However, he’ll have to prove he can disengage from blockers if he doesn’t get the initial jump on them.
His statistical production has improved every year, which is one way of exemplifying that he is an ascending talent. I wouldn't be surprised if he winds up being a Day 2 steal who eventually becomes a team’s top pass rusher.
Rock Ya-Sin | Cornerback | Temple
Ya-Sin only played one year of major college football after playing at FCS Presbyterian College before moving to Temple as a grad transfer in 2018. However, in his one year, he proved to be a tough, sticky corner with a nose for the football. He also performed well at the Senior Bowl. His Combine testing scores don't quite add up, so I'll be interested to see how he actually looks out on an NFL field. Ya-Sin is one of the more aggressive defensive backs when it comes to fighting for the ball. His ball skills are undeniable, but his awareness isn't always there downfield, as the ball sometimes gets there before he has his head turned around. He'll likely need some coaching to unlock his potential, but he's got plenty of it.