INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday mailbag.
Here is this week's collection:Stephen James (LaPorte, IN)
We need more help and talent at the OLB position n need to ready ourselves for the day Mathis does eventually leave us for life after the NFL. Personally I believe we should find a good talent early in the draft. Here is one of the my questions. Would the Colts ever try Werner as a defensive end? To me seems like he may b better on the line.
Bowen: Stephen, I just can't see Werner re-shaping his body to what the Colts ask for out of their 3-4 defensive ends. Or for that matter the Colts asking Werner to do so. Those guys are hovering (typically) north of 300 pounds and Werner currently weighs around 260 pounds. Now, the OLB debate is going to be interesting to watch come draft time. Pass rushers are at a premium in this league and depending on the health of Robert Mathis, that position could be a higher priority for the Colts. I've seen a few mock drafts with OLB as the first round choice for Indy. I'm not 100 percent sold on this being a major need because I think the Colts have some quality depth at OLB, but it might be hard to pass up if an elite edge guy falls to No. 29.
Ralph McClain (Valparaiso, Indiana)
A few months ago, a question surfaced in the mailbag about Sam Ficken getting in the practice squad for a year if drafted. As a fellow Valparaiso person, I'd love to know whether the colts would consider getting a kicker this year. A big issue with the kicker position beyond 2015, is that when you've had the best kicker in NFL history for a decade, replacing him will be a nightmare but if the colts give Vinatieri one year to train a good kicker who is related to the state of Indiana and who can already do many things, the colts will not face the same that the Lions are since Jason Hanson's retirement. Really, is this even a possibility or does Ryan Grigson not believe Vinatieri is off ater year 20?
Bowen: Ralph, we've had quite a few kicker inquiries over the past few months. Whether it's Ficken or Lou Groza, the hardest thing to get past when it comes down to keeping two kickers is roster mechanics. Let's say Vinatieri does retire after 2015, it's still extremely difficult to carry two kickers on an active roster or even on a practice squad during a season. With Pat McAfee being the kickoff specialist for the Colts, there's no room to have three kickers on a 53-man roster when you are always juggling the final few inactive spots each week (only 46 guys dress each week). Now, a 10-man practice squad might seem like a better option to keep a kicker but you are taking away an important practice player if you use up one of those spots for a kicker. With injuries and guys missing practice every week, a full, healthy group of practice squad players is key to keeping things competitive from Wednesday-Friday. Again, I just can't see a third kicker on the Colts roster while Vinatieri and McAfee are in Indy. These are two All-Pro specialists who are more than capable of doing their jobs.
Ed Karwacki (Wisconsin)
Kevin, All the so called experts say the Colts need a running back. That may be the case later in the draft but I thing they need offensive lineman first to open up holes for the RB.They need defense as well. Whats your take on this?
Bowen: While I agree with you on maybe waiting a bit for running back, I'm not so sure that an offensive lineman early is definitely the option. If the Colts find a viable option, or two, up front in free agency then the need isn't too pressing for a young OL early on. I think the OL need should be re-evaluated after the free agency period comes to an end. If Joe Reitz is re-signed (the lone unrestricted free agent along the line) and the Colts sign another UFA to go along with Ben Heenan from the CFL, then you have an ample amount of bodies in the trenches heading into OTAs/Draft.
Ed Turner (Indianapolis, IN)
The Colts were very successful in running trick plays on special teams the first part of the season and after that nothing. I was hoping they wouldn't go all conservative against NE but they did. Any reason why?
Bowen: Ed, in listening to opposing coaches talk throughout the regular season/playoffs, one common message was how the Colts onside kicks earlier in the year forced extra attention to special teams that week. You saw virtually every kick return unit facing the Colts changing their normal alignment to prepare for the Colts set up. Having said that, Indianapolis hardly had any chances to use trickery against New England. In the onside kicks against Tennessee and Houston earlier this season, the Colts capitalized on them after early opening quarter scores. That obviously wasn't the case versus the Patriots.
Nick Schweikarth (Norfolk, VA)
I keep hearing that we need to get tougher. Most of the "tough" teams play in outdoors in the elements. Indy is a cold weather state. What do you thing the chances are of opening Lucas Oil during the winter? Might toughen up the team and the fans! Do a poll and see what the fans think.
Bowen: Nick, I'm not too sure how feasible that would be, or how appealing that would be to Colts fans. Kickoff in Denver during the playoffs was actually 11 degrees cooler than it was the following week in Foxborough, so I don't think you can put a ton of stock into an open air stadium being needed for home games.
Chandler Warnick (Indianapolis)
Is Joe Reitz the home town hero returning next season? And if he does will he be more in the lineup than usual?
Bowen: Reitz is the lone offensive lineman that heads into the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. When healthy, there might not be a more valuable lineman on the Colts roster than Reitz. He was praised throughout the playoff run for what he did to shore up the right edge of the Colts offensive line. Now, that play from Reitz will definitely attract other teams to inquire about him this offseason. At the same time though, Ryan Grigson has always spoken highly of Reitz and knows that it's hard to put a price on versatility up front. If Gosder Cherilus returns healthy, Reitz could slide back inside to compete at one of the guard spots while continuing to provide quality tackle depth.
Aaron Bacon (Fishers, IN)
Has there been any updates on the development of te eric swoope?
Bowen: No update on Swoope. He was signed to a reserve/futures contract for next season though. That is obviously an indication that the Colts still feel there is something to work with in the former college basketball player. The Colts have four tight ends on the roster with Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Jack Doyle and Swoope. The development of Swoope is definitely an under the radar type storyline for the offseason.
Jake Y. (Franklin, IN)
Although I would love to have Melvin Gordon, do you think the Colts would be better off drafting defense or offensive line in the first two rounds then maybe getting a back like David Cobb that fits our offense better? It seems as though the third round is Ryan Grigson's hotspot for immediate impact players.
Bowen: Jake, this seems to be my line of thinking in that the front seven needs early in the draft are of greater need. I do think Melvin Gordon is a tremendous talent but I just believe the value of a mid-round pick on a running back can still impact the Colts next year. The third round has certainly been a time for some productive, productive picks from Grigson. In 2012, he took Dwayne Allen at the top of the third round before trading back into the third to take T.Y. Hilton (No. 92 overall). Then last year, the Colts found a promising receiver in Donte Moncrief, who could be a full-time starter in 2015.
Dan Goldmeier (Baltimore)
WIth Jarrell Freeman as a free agent, and two other inside linebackers running afoul of the law, how high on the priority list is the ilb position? Considering this isn't a "deep" 3-4 inside linebacker free agency class would a player like Benardrick McKinney be a possibility at the end of round 1? I think his size and versatility would be an asset to the defense in need of some oompf up the middle? I also think he can flex a bit outside. Part 2, has anyone other than me ever noticed that Andrew Luck and Andre the Giant have the exact same speaking voice?
Bowen: Dan, you bring up a position that is getting overlooked to a degree in the Colts offseason program. Jerrell Freeman and D'Qwell Jackson are not unrestricted free agents in 2014 so the thinking there is those two are your starters again next year. Do you want to "waste" a first round pick on a guy that might play just special teams in 2015? Again, I know Jackson is getting up there in years so I do think an ILB is a possibility at some point in the draft, especially when you consider the question marks at the depth of that position. As far as the Andrew Luck/Andre The Giant voice similarity, I don't see it. Yes, Luck's voice is deep, but let's not get carried away in comparing it to the impressive vocals of Andre The Giant.
Aaron Sanders (Boise, Idaho)
If the Colts drafted a running back early, which one do you believe fits their scheme and the team the best?
Bowen: I'm sure when you refer to "early" you probably are pointing to the first round. Melvin Gordon and Toddy Gurley are ideal candidates for any offense but let's say those two don't fall to the Colts (or Gurley's ACL injury scares team away), I could see Duke Johnson being a guy that could fit this offense. Johnson might not scream "first round talent" but he was utilized a good amount in catching the ball out of the backfield for Miami. He's an explosive guy that would give the Colts a different element at the running back position. We saw last year how frequently Colts running backs were involved in the passing game and I don't see any reason why that would decrease next year (three Colts running backs caught at least 21 passes in the regular season).
Alex Cotterman (New Palestine, IN)
So, the talk of the town has been the signing of Duron Carter. He is big, fast and can go up for the ball, but does it worry you how his 205lb frame will hold up against big hitters because he is so lanky? I also am curious how he will play against the NFLs elite press man coverage guys because he has had trouble with that. Regardless of that, I am excited to see him on the field come August.
Bowen: Alex, I don't think Carter's frame absorbing hits is my biggest worry. I think one of the bigger physical questions regarding Carter is how he handles the press coverage (like you said). Up in the CFL, receivers don't have to be set for a full second before the snap. Therefore that allows for virtually no press coverage (it's all about the offenses up in the CFL) and really unlimited motion pre-snap. That's going to be where Carter will benefit from offseason reps against Vontae Davis and Greg Toler.