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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: How Will The Colts Try To Replace Pat McAfee?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about finding a high-level cornerback this offseason, going after players from the Chiefs and if the Colts should shift away from a 3-4 defense.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.Submit your question here

With the abundance of questions in recent weeks, we will have two mailbags each week. This one comes via a weekend edition (here's the Wednesday version from this week).Martin G. (Topoclany, Slovakia)

Hi Kevin,

thank you for your work. Your insights about our team are amazing. I just read your article that Pat McAfee retired. I am very sad right now. I completely understand that his health is priority and that brings me to my question.

Pat McAfee was probably the best punter in NFL so my question is can we replace him? Is there in college some talented punter who could replace player like Pat? Do we need to use draft pick to get such player or we could sign undrafted player?

Thank you for your answer. Good luck in your work.

No. 1 Colts fan in Europe

Bowen: Martin, happy to help. Really enjoy the mailbag. We had a lot of McAfee questions this week. Let's break down how the Colts can "replace" McAfee. Because of McAfee's incredible versatility, the Colts must go out and find a unique punter, one that can kick off, too. Adam Vinatieri at the age of 44 has seen his kicking off days come to a close. So the Colts will need a big-legged punter to enter in 2017. In free agency, a couple of starters are hitting the open market. The Colts could explore that. Or, if special teams coordinator Tom McMahon likes the college group of punters, that avenue could be used, too. Some people might disagree, but I'd be okay with using a seventh-round pick (would have to come through a compensatory pick or through a trade). The Colts are going to miss McAfee. But they have the resources to be able to try and acquire a talented kicker this offseason.

Nick H. (Redlands, CA)

Hey there I know we need defense and I like getting an edge rusher in the first round but what are the odds dalvin cook falls to the second round? I think he would be an impact player we could use running the ball take some of the pressure off luck and keep teams honest as far as respecting our running game.. thanks

Bowen: Minimal. I've seen Mock Drafts with Dalvin Cook going in the first 15 picks. So Cook would have to fall some 40-50 picks for him to reach the Colts in the second round. I don't see Cook lasting to the latter stages of the first round. He's too talented, too complete.

Marcus S. (Fishers, IN)

Hi Kevin. This is my second question this week as more info came about in the league. I know there was a question on Wednesday about Poe and Berry, but as I'm sure you saw yesterday, Berry said he refuses to play under the tag again. Not that it would change too much for them cap wise, but when looking at their current cap space, before any moves are made as the season opens they are roughly sitting at $4.5M over. Cut Charles and clear up 7M, cut Maclin and his dead cap is still 7M. Maclin isn't even for sure I suppose, but hypothetically with them gone, they sit at $10M available before any other moves. That's not even enough to pay Berry or Poe. Ballard talks a lot about not being able to buy a locker room and being really careful who is brought in, he knows Poe well obviously and what he would bring to the locker room. Wouldn't you think that Poe would be a truly legitimate target for Ballard? He'd be perfect for our 3-4. His projected market value would be $13M, a steep but I'd say reasonable price for a proven DT who is also only 26 years young. We could get a large portion of his contract paid while we still have our young guys on the line on their rookie contracts.

Thanks

Bowen: I do think Poe is more of a fit for the Colts, when you compare him to Eric Berry. You make great points backing this in your question. What Chris Ballard and Ted Monachino must decide in the coming weeks is if the Colts need an upgrade at nose tackle. David Parry made strides in production in his second NFL season, however he's not the prototypical body type for a 3-4 nose tackle. Does that mean the Colts go out and try to pursue Poe? I still think the Chiefs want to bring Poe back. But I could definitely see the Colts having interest in the big fella. Ryan Kelly said Poe was the best nose tackle he played against all season.

Leonardo B. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Hi Kevin. I've seen some mock drafts with 8 CB's going in round 1. Six or seven of them even before Colts are on the clock. The question is how this affect Colts draft plan? For example: if we are planning to pick a CB in round 2, so many CB going off the board in round 1 could push this pla to round 3 or 4? Regards.

Bowen: You've seen a mock with six or seven cornerbacks in the first 14 picks? Wow. I haven't seen that many going that high. It does seem like this year is a deeper class for cornerbacks. I still don't think an early run on corners would shift the draft board/priority needs for the Colts too much. I do view cornerback as a need this offseason. If the cornerback group in 2017 is really, really deep, a third rounder this year might be a first or second rounder in some years.

Marissa M. (Tampa, FL)

Hi Kevin!

I've been reading a lot of mock drafts as everyone except falcons and patriots fans are doing :), but I wanted to hear your thoughts- If all of these prospects were somehow on the board when the colts pick- who would you choose for the colts to take? I've seen multiple mock drafts with the colts taking one of these guys.

Leonard Fournette RB

Dalvin Cook RB

Derek Barnett DE

Solomon Thomas DE

Takkarist McKinley OLB

Jamal Adams S

Bowen: Give me one of the edge guys. Whoever is deemed to be the best fit out of Barnett, Thomas and McKinley. If all these names were on the board when the Colts pick in April, that would be a pretty good group to pick from.

Jason R. (Kokomo, IN)

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your time and yes I m as sad as you over Pats retirement.

Now as we have a few key defensive players up on UFA; some in which I believe arent elite anyway, and it seems age is a severe factor in our sucess. But as for our Linebacker positions in particular, what is your take on Connor Harris? As for me, I think he is all heart and has the ballhawking instincts of some of the great NFL LB's.

Bowen: Connor Harris was the NCAA's all-time leading tackler, playing at Division II Lindenwood. I see the Colts in the market for an inside linebacker this offseason, so taking a look at him is something that should be done. The Colts have found players out of Lindenwood before.

Ben W. (St. Louis)

Big fan of your weekly mailbag. In my opinion Stanford seems to be like a feeder team to the Colts (Luck, Fleener, Anderson, Perry). Does this make Christian Mccaffrey a 3rd-5th round option for the future of the Colts backfield?

Bowen: Well, the Stanford feeder was a theme of the Ryan Grigson tenure. Will that continue under Chris Ballard? Stanford is a great program, so it should be studied closely every draft cycle. I think Christian McCaffrey in the third round, or later, would make a lot of sense to the Colts. Will he last that long?

Joshua L. (Fort Sill, OK)

Hello again kevin. Got a mock draft for you so please let me know what you think.

Round1:Soloman Thomas- DE/OLB Stanford

Round 2:Adorre Jackson- CB USC

Round 3:Eddie Jackson- Saftey Alabama

Round 4:Joe mixon- RB Oklahoma ( i think he may fall to this round) maybe a long shot oh well.

Round 4:Julie'n Davenport- OT Bucknell

Round 5: Zane Davenport- Kicker ASU

Round 6: JK Scott- P Alabama (due to pats retirement)

I think this draft class along with Dontarie Poe ( Im praying we pick up) we could contend for a title.

Bowen: Take Mixon out of the equation (no one has any idea how he will eventually be evaluated), and this draft class certainly checks many boxes. I'm not sure why you have a kicker in Round Five though. The Colts are only going to keep two kickers on a 53-man roster, so no point in wasting a pick when Adam Vinatieri is still here.

Jeffrey K. (Colquitt, GA)

Hey Kevin I got a question about our offense.. Do you agree that we should play a more up tempo offense and show defenses no mercy like the Atlanta Falcons? We have one of the fastest receiving corps in the Nfl... Im not saying we should throw it deep every play but just shorter routes and a 3 step drop back and let Jacoby Brissett run option routes in the slot we could use him in more ways instead of just go routes or screens or end arounds and always make a TE be a threat to clear some stuff out but all Im saying we just need to be more agressive and have that killer instinct we can't win being conservative all the time

Thanks for your time Kevin have a great day

Bowen: I was a bit surprised we didn't see more tempo from the offense in 2016. Coming out of London, the Colts used the quicker pace in the win over Chicago. I don't know if all the different offensive line combinations made Rob Chudzinski more hesitant to use the faster tempo. I don't think the Colts were "conservative all the time" by any means. But I do think the offense played better in 2016 when the tempo sped up. Of course, no matter the tempo, execution is the ultimate key in whatever speed you are looking for.

Marcus S. (Fishers, IN)

Hi Kevin. As I'm sure you are, I'm incredibly "jacked" for Ballard. I think his team, team, team notion is very refreshing for the locker room, front office, and coaching staff. In regards to the draft, I think it's almost unanimous that we go defense early and often. A lot of questions seemed to target the secondary, but our secondary got next to no help last year from our pass rush. Vontae is certainly serviceable, if Clayton can stay healthy he showed flashes as well, TJ is still raw as we know, and we invested in Patrick last year. Do we bring Darius back you think? If I'm not mistaken he's an UFA. But would you agree that our pass rush is of greatest concern? It would only help to compliment our secondary.

Bowen: From a unit specific group, I think the secondary probably has the most unknown answers to questions this offseason. The Colts have bodies back there (Darius Butler and Mike Adams are free agents), but the questions just don't have a ton of convincing answers. Where will Clayton Geathers line up? Is T.J. Green ready to be a full-time starter? Is a healthy Patrick Robinson your definite No. 2 cornerback? How do you handle the free agency cases of Darius Butler and Mike Adams? The secondary plays a major, major role in how effective a pass rush can be. How the Colts decide to handle Butler and Adams will tell a lot about the rest of the offseason for the defensive back group.

Dave C. (New Castle, IN)

Are players and coaches/front office people permitted to interact at this time of year? Could for instance Mr. Ballard have a sit down with Andrew?

Secondly, as fans this time of year is somewhat of a mystery. Can you give us a glimpse at what goes on daily at the 56th street facility?

Bowen: 1. Yes players can interact with the staff but all on a volunteer basis. For the most part, guys are scattered across the country getting away from the grind of a season. 2. It's a lot of evaluation time for the coaches/personnel people. Self-evaluation is the main area of focus right now, but free agency evaluation and draft evaluation are sprinkled in as well.

Brandon H. (East Oakland, CA)

Who is your favorite prospect that you think the Colts will draft first round and who would you want the colts to get in the free agency

Bowen: Let's go with Derek Barnett out of Tennessee. Will he drop to 14/15 for the Colts to take? That seems to be the biggest question. With free agency, I'm a little more cautious. But if you can get a starter off the edge, this combination would go a long, long way in addressing the biggest off-season need for the Colts.

Jeff P. (Bristol, CT)

Hi Kevin,

I believe with the right pieces, our Colts can challenge for the Super Bowl next year. With that being said I believe we need as many draft picks this year as possible. I am of the belief if we can trade our first and/or second picks in 2018 and maybe even a player (not sure who that could be) to add more pics in this defensive Rich draft we can really build up our team this year. If we couple that with trading our first pick this year to move back into the twenties and add another pick in the second or third round that would really help us. We can get a Lawson or maybe Tim Williams in the twenties. I know most fans are still bitter about the Trent Richardson trade and are so against Trading a future pick.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this. And maybe Chris Ballard reads your mail bag and he will see my idea. ;)

Jeff

Bowen: Yeah, I don't agree with trading next year's picks to stock pile more for 2017. This draft, future drafts, are all very important to how the Colts will look in the coming years. You can't just totally gouge your 2018 class and put all your eggs into this year. You have no idea how things will look next year in terms of needs and what the Colts will need come draft time.

Stephen J. (La Porte, IN)

Hey I read every mailbag and want to send my appreciation to you for taking your time to do this for us fans bleeding blue. Now I have seen a lot of mocks and articles about what people think we should do. I just wanna lay out what my game plan would be and see what you and the other fans think about it. For starters on FA, we should still be selective but need at least 2 or 3 potential startes, everyone is now asking about Poe after we hired Ballard and I'm on board with that but I think our more realistic possibility and nice foot would be Brandon Williams from the Ravens, then maybe a starting corner like Johnson or Gilmore, maybe Zach Brown for MLB, and a veteran OLB. To me that would be ideal, I believe that would help clog up the middle more, a between CB would allow a deaftee get acclimated to the NFL, and MLB we need experience and talent. Now in the draft my number 1 choice hands down is OLB Tim Williams from Alabama. Honestly if he is available when we pick, I think it should be a no brainier choice. If he isn't than another OLB or a CB would be my top option. Round 2, OLB/CB, Round 3, MLB/CB/S, Round 4, see round 3, Round 4, RB, Round 5, Best player available, Round 6, Best player available, Round 7, if I remember correctly we don't have a 7th round pick this year. Obviously everything is subject to change due to FA and how the draft board falls but for me this would just be almost absolutely perfect, ID take MLB much higher, even round one, but depends on who is available and how the draft board goes. N at running back I would absolutely love to see Joe Mixon come to the horseshoe change his image, and be a man, he would be a steal in my eyes anytime at or after round 3, I say if we can get him somehow with one of our 2 4th rounds pics ID me estatic, I would even mind going round 3 or so, he is a risk but one that could pay off HUGE! Would love to know what u think about this and same with all of my fellow blue bloods, Let's GO Colts!!!! For the Horseshoe!!!!

Bowen: Thanks for reading along, Stephen. I've talked about the draft a lot through various mailbags, so let's key on your free agency thoughts here. What you are thinking---the signing of one definite starter on defense---is similar to what my plan is entering the offseason. The Colts aren't going to be major spenders in free agency. That is known. But the Colts still should have enough cap room this offseason to bring in an outside starter that is considered an upper level defensive player. Using this method in free agency would give you an upgrade, while not totally breaking the bank. That still lets you achieve the overall goal of building your roster through the draft and not tying your hands completely from a cap situation.

Craig H. (Goodfish Lake, Canada)

Hello, Kevin!

A few questions:

1) What do you think the chances are of Chris Ballard enticing Eric Berry to signing with us this offseason? Do you think having Green, a former 2nd round pick, would deter them from pursuing Berry?

2) Do you feel our that current defensive personnel is suited for a transition towards a 4-3 alignment where Langford and Anderson would line up and push the pocket from the middle?

Bowen: 1. We are going to get this question a lot. Can a GM really entice a player to leave a playoff team and a place he's been his entire career? That seems like a tall order. If I was weighing the resources the Colts had this offseason along with the needs, paying what you would have to pay for a starting safety (like Berry) doesn't add up, in my opinion. Now, if you have a plan to move T.J. Green or Clayton Geathers around within the defense, this thinking has a little more traction in my mind. 2. The current personnel is better suited for a 3-4. I'm not sure who your 4-3 defensive end would be with the roster makeup right now. I don't see the scheme changing too much with Chuck Pagano/Ted Monachino running things.

Dayton M. (Louisville)

Would it be smarter to grab a running back such as Dalvin Cook or Fournette, focus on defense with jabrill peppers or grab another OL? I myself feel that the young guys up front we're getting established. I would just like your opinion!

Bowen: Focus on defense early in the draft. That's my opinion. You have to find young talent to build around on the defensive side of the ball, ASAP. That's lacking right now.

Roberto S. (California)

Hey Kevin, I hope you are as exited as I am about our new General manager. I was really impressed on how he handled the Press Conference and the way he wants to build this roster. With that being said, my question is: with him coming from the chiefs, which is a team who has normally taken risks on players in the draft with off the field concerns, such as All Pro Corner Marcus Peters and All pro Kick Returner Tyreek Hill, With Chris Ballard now in charge, can you see the Colts taking a similar approach in drafting these types of players which is something they tend to stay away from come Draft Day?

Bowen: Yes. This was the quote that Ballard gave to Chiefs.com last year regarding talent acquisition: "I've learned from (Chiefs GM John Dorsey) that there's always a player out there and you've always got to continue to dig and look, and you can't be scared to bring that guy on your team. You've got to be aggressive. If you think this guy's better than somebody that you have, you've got to be willing to make the move. We're not drafting for our egos. We are drafting for the Chiefs and I've learned that from John. It doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. It only matters what we think in that room because at the end of the day it's the Chiefs' pick." The Colts will do their homework under Ballard and I don't see them hesitating from 'taking chances' if the boxes are checked.

Ben D. (Voorhees, NJ)

Hey Kevin,

As always, thanks so much to answer our questions, it really means a lot.

Now, with the hiring of Chris Ballard, most of us at this point know some of his major accomplishments, especially with drafting. I'm wondering, is there any insight he's given into who the Colts might be looking at? I'm not looking for a mock draft or anything, just wondering if there's any evidence Ballard wants to draft a running back or edge rush in the first round type thing.

Also, I'm curious as to how Ballard might handle to TE situation. Dwayne Allen is a good player but he has a monster contract (imo) for someone who shares lots of time with the other TEs. I've seen Eric Swoope turn into a nice asset, as well as the emergence of Jack Doyle. From what I've seen, they all are about comparable, with Doyle seeming to be the best receiver and all three being about equal in blocking. With good TEs seeming rare in the NFL, is there any chance Ballard might want to trade Allen (or any of the others) for a draft pick? What do you think we could get for someone like Allen?

Finally, Ballard seems like the kind of GM who values draft picks more the FA. Do you share a similar opinion? How do you think this mentality will shape the colts' future?

Bowen: 1. So far, really no evidence from Chris Ballard regarding positions of need. He acknowledged the priority on the defensive side of the ball, so that's a good place to start when planning out the offseason. 2. You probably couldn't get too high of a pick for Dwayne Allen. Look at past trades for a non-Pro Bowl skill player. You don't receive much draft value in return. Rob Chudzinski loves using his tight ends, so I think for what the Colts want to do offensively you need multiple tight ends. 3. Yes. You need impact players on rookie deals to build a successful foundation. That's especially the case when your quarterback is the highest paid player in the NFL. I'm fine with sprinkling any free agent pieces to fill some gaps. But the bulk of your building must come from the draft, and then retaining your own. This is the best method for the future of the Colts.

Patrick T. (Houston)

Donte Moncrief is by far my favorite player, with that said he had some injuries last season that limited him an his potential. My question is, are there any concerns going forward with him that he has not recovered or will not recover? He is an amazing talent and when he is on the field he makes us better in every facet.

Bowen: I don't think so. I've heard some talk of people questioning Moncrief's durability. I don't think that's fair. The guy didn't miss a game his first two NFL seasons. This year he gets smoked on a hit over the middle in Week Two and injures his shoulder. It's the shoulder that kept him off the field for half of this season (Moncrief also missed the Minnesota game due to a hamstring injury). For a wide receiver, I'd much rather have a guy spending his offseason healing an upper body injury versus something in the leg/foot area.

Joshua L. (Fort Sill, OK)

Hello again! My question this time is about the Draft. Do you see us potentially drafting Ryan Switzer out of North Carolina. He reminds me of Julian Edleman almost. He is awesome at returning kicks and has almost perfect routes. I personally believe he can take Phillip Dorsett's spot as our #3 receiver. Thank you for your time!

Bowen: What round will Switzer go? From the little I've seen of North Carolina, I'd assume Switzer has a chance to be a middle-round guy. If it's higher than the sixth round, I'm staying away from it. The Colts can more than get by with the current wide receiver talent on the roster. It's time to focus your draft resources elsewhere.

John F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)

Kevin, I know we just hired the new GM, Cris Ballard. Have you heard an rumblings about his ideas on new defensive and offensive coordinators? I know he is going with Chuck Pagano for at least a year, but was wondering if he has any plans on changing some of the others coaching staff?

Bowen: Chris Ballard is sticking with Chuck Pagano's staff in 2017. We have no idea how things will unfold after that and obviously Ballard isn't going to reveal what he's thinking with so much time between now and the end of next season.

Blake M. (Mt. Washington, KY)

I'm going to keep this short and simple. What is the likely hood of the colts picking up olb melon Ingram for the chargers in far do you think he would be a good fit and do you think that t.y. McGill could be a starter because he is always in the middle of just about every play that he's in the game me being a McGill (no relation that I'm aware of) would really like to see that happen

Bowen: Since the end of the 2016 season, we've received a few Melvin Ingram questions. I could see a fit between the Colts and Ingram. We don't know how active new GM Chris Ballard is going to be in free agency. But we do know that Kansas City had the occasional dip into free agency. If Ballard did that with Ingram, he would fill an immediate need off the edge. With McGill, I still like him better in a situational role. You rotate so many bodies up front that having McGill in your sub packages best suites his skill set as an interior rusher.

Juan R. (New Jersey)

Can Corey Clement be a good fit for the Colts ?

Bowen: A good fit? Yeah, I think his running style would work for the Colts. The real question with these running backs is how high of a price are you willing to pay. If Clement is there in the middle rounds, have at it. But if he's sliding up the draft board, you might have to pause.

Dylan M. (Marshall, IL)

I know this is probably wishful thinking, but do you think Malik Hooker missing the combine due to surgery will drop his draft stock at all?

Bowen: I don't think so. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious (meaning he shouldn't be in risk to miss the start of his rookie season). The draft pundits really like Hooker's stock right now as a possible top-10 pick. Unless Hooker gets red flags for medical reasons at the Combine, it's not looking like he will be available when the Colts get on the clock.

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