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.
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).
Here is this weekend's collection:William F. (San Diego, CA)
I wanted to ask a question about the offensive line, which I know is not very original. I see a lot of mocks and talk about the O-Line and I agree it's important but I would rather see us take a corner back in the first round and find quality linemen in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Regardless, many of the mock drafts have us taking a tackle and specifically Jack Conklin. If that were to end up being the case what are the chances that the colts would be able to move him or Denzelle Good to guard? Couldn't Good be a quality pulling guard with his size and speed? What are your thoughts on sending either of these guys to the inside? Thanks
Bowen: I think this is one of the biggest questions to explore when the Colts evaluate offensive line targets this offseason. If I'm not mistaken, Good began his collegiate career at North Carolina State initially playing some guard. He's been exclusively a tackle since. So the Colts must decide, do they think Good or Joe Reitz can be a starting guard? If so, then that opens up a spot outside for the Colts to pursue a free agent tackle or draft a guy like Jack Conklin from Michigan State. I'm of the belief that Good and/or Reitz can be a starting tackle, which allows you then to focus on an interior guy or two. This is where things get difficult though. Remember last year, the Colts thought Jack Mewhort could play tackle. Then when the line struggled early in the season, the shuffling occurred at three spots. Of course, it would be best to avoid such a situation in 2016.
Dennis E. (Sweetser, IN)
I enjoy reading the questions and your responses on the mailbag. My question is not only a Colts question, but an overall NFL question. Most professional sports seem to have a developmental (or feeder) league. ie; baseball with aaa, NBA with D league, etc. I don't see this with the NFL. It appears the ontu legitimate feeder league for he NFL is College Football. Would it make sense for the NFL to develop a system to improve the quality of their athletes? I would like to see them extend the number of practice squads to a full 22. This would give the teams an avenue to develop players and have a full offense and defense to work and develop. Any thoughts?
Bowen: Dennis, this is a terrific question. It's one that is debated often with little traction, because it's so hard to find something everyone can agree on. The expansion of practice squads has been an area the NFL went down a few years back. The problem is, there is just no way to replicate game speed at an NFL practice. You can't afford to risk injuries like that. I think a minor league system is the best route. The NFL has created the Fall Experimental League and we've seen players "come up" from that route (Josh Freeman, Earl Okine). I don't know if a direct feeder system (like baseball) is the route to take, but I think that would make the most sense. At the same time, if you're a player, would you want to risk injury in a developmental league and possibly end your season and any call up to the NFL? Again, this is something the NFL is constantly talking about and exploring. It's just hard to come up with something that works for everyone involved (NFL, the minor league and the players).
Colton H. (North Carolina)
Who are some top Defensive players that the colts may try to go after in the draft or maybe even free agency?
Bowen: Here's a list of some potential draftees pundits have pegged for the Colts and then a free agent overview of unrestricted free agents. Accurately predicting guys to the Colts is borderline impossible. Positions I think the Colts will be looking to address the rest of the offseason has to be cornerback and offensive line through free agency. If you could get a potential starter or two at those spots, I think that would be very beneficial. Then the objective of the draft is just simply to acquire impactful guys. You are obviously going to get younger through the draft and that's a key for Jim Irsay this offseason.
Leonardo B. (Rio de Janeiro)
Considering that Luck should get over $20 million a year and all the free agents that we have to re-sign, do you think that Colts can cut some vets to open cap space? If so, who do you think are the candidates? Congrats on great work with mailbag. This space to all fans is unique.
Bowen: Jim Irsay has mentioned that veteran cuts are a definite possibility this offseason. That's really what the post February timetable is about in the NFL. We've seen several "big" names hit the open market. So add those guys to the expected unrestricted free agents that will have their contracts come up in March. I think it's pretty obvious the type of guys that fit this criteria. Veterans, with significant contracts, that offered minimal production last season would qualify as potential cap casualties.
Philipe C. (Goiania, Brazil)
Hey Kevin. As always, appreciate your great work covering our Colts.
So, talking about our needs in the offseason, i have them listed this way, in order: LB, CB, C, RB, RG, TE... (and a lot of others, since I don´t think we have a great strength position that couldn´t use some upgrade). So, as you can tell, I see things differently of most fans, wanting us to adress OL with the first pick in the draft. I think the first and most effective move to make our OL better would be to sign Mitchell Shwartz, from the Browns. We would not only improve our OL in the outside but also the inside, being able to move Reitz to RG. Also, we would be able to focus on the defense in te draft, making more impact in the quality of our team, having to draft maybe just a C and a RB on the other side of the ball, and keeping the BPA policy.
After wandering that much (I´m sorry...draft season excites me haha), what positions do YOU think are the most needed in our roster, and how would YOU adress them trough FA and draft?
Bowen: In taking a look at your positions of need order, I pretty much agree exactly with your list. Tight end is all going to depend on who you end up bringing back next season. When I look at free agency, I'd call it a win if the Colts could find a starting caliber cornerback and interior lineman. If the Colts accomplish that, while brining back the key unrestricted free agents, that should open things up in the draft. By that I mean, you don't have a glaring open starting position going into April. With that, you can then find defensive playmakers (across the unit), another lineman, a young running back, etc.
Kelly K. (Virginia)
My suggestion is Lucks contract needs to be around 14 to 15 million a year, with a signing bonus. Paying a QB big money doesn't win championships a balance of O and D is what does that. If Peyton would have had a good D not great D while in Indy, no less than 4 SB rings. What is your thoughts on this.
Bowen: Kelly, I definitely see where you are coming from on with this question. The Colts have been planning for Luck's negotiations well before the calendar turned to 2016. They knew this time would come and have tried to structure contracts for the raise in No. 12's base salary. The number for Luck isn't going to be around 14-15 million a year. That's just not feasible when you look around at the other contracts for franchise quarterbacks. Jim Irsay has already said to expect a number around 20 million. The Colts Owner did point out on several occasions that the deal would be laid out to make things as friendly as possible in continuing to construct a championship team.
Mike A. (North Carolina)
This question has to do with Jack Mewhort's permanent position (left guard or right tackle). It appeared going into 2015, RT was going to be his position moving forward, but with how poor the o-line was last season, in particular Weeks 1 & 2, he went back to LG. He appears to be a natural fit at both spots (left tackle in college). What is your opinion on the following? We use the 1st round pick on D and 2nd/mid-draft & FA for interior help. Making Jack's permanent position RT.
Bowen: Barring something unforeseen happening, I think Jack Mewhort's position at the NFL is going to be left guard. According to Pro Football Focus, Mewhort was the fourth ranked left guard last season. With Mewhort and left tackle Anthony Castonzo, the Colts have things secured on that left side for the next several years. So I think Mewhort is staying at left guard. I do agree with your draft assessment though: defense in Round One, and then find interior OL with the second-round pick/and free agency. I think Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good are more than capable of being the team's starting right tackle in 2016.
Misael J. (Los Angeles)
In the (hopefully distant) future, when Vinatieri were to retire, would there be a higher likelihood that he would retire a patriot or a colt?Considering that he has won 3 Super Bowls with New England and only 1 with Indianapolis, it would seem more likely patriot. However, I would love for him to retire a colt! He is one of my favorite players and I hope he cements his legacy in Indy. I mean, he's Mr. Automatic! Who doesn't love the guy? Haha
What are your thoughts? Cheers!
Bowen: The NFL doesn't have players retire with one specific team, like major league baseball. For those going into Canton, the teams you played for are simply just listed. So there won't have to be such a decision for Adam Vinatieri. However, I think you are right. If the NFL did have players retire with a specific team, it would be hard to ignore three Super Bowls, two of which came thanks to Vinatieri's right leg in the waning seconds for New England.
Randy S. (Indianapolis)
Does guaranteed money count against cap dollars? If not one way Andrew could have his big contract is if Irsey offered 14 mil/yr for 6 years with garrenteed 70 mil. Allowing for more cap space to surround him with quality o-line and defense. What are your thoughts?
Bowen: From what I understand about the cap (and trying to sift through all the language can be difficult), the guaranteed money still counts against the cap, but is spread out across the length of a deal. Like I've said before, Luck's pending contract is something the Colts have prepped for over the past couple of years. So this isn't a surprise to the people dealing with the Colts cap situation. The Colts are not oblivious to other needs they have on this team and how they must go forward in handling those, while still locking up Luck long-term.
Zach D. (Indiana)
I know that T.Y Hilton is currently in a contract that has a few years left, but my question is do you think there is a good chance of him spending the majority of his career in Indianapolis? I think he's a monster player and a great wide receiver, not to mention my favorite player. I know this is probably premature and probably hard to answer but if I'm going to buy a T.Y jersey, I want to be able to wear it for years to come!!
Thank you so much!
Bowen: Haha, I think there's a very good chance T.Y. Hilton spends the bulk of his NFL career right here in Indianapolis. With Hilton signing a new deal just prior to the start of last season, he's now under contract through 2020. For a guy who joined the Colts in 2012, Hilton has a very good chance at playing out nine seasons in Indianapolis. Go ahead and purchase that No. 13 jersey.
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey Kevin, on behalf of fans I want to thank you for your work. Us fans love to get involved.
You and I both have commented on the wild card of Ohio State Ezekiel Elliott for the Colts in the first round. I wanna ask about the biggest wild card in the entire first round for any team, former Ohio State pass rusher Noah Spence.
In terms of talent, there is nothing to talk about. The kid is special. For those of you who remember, when Spence was at Ohio State, no one talked about Joey Bosa (an expected top 5 pick in his own right). Spence the Buckeye was getting even more hype than what Bosa gets now.
The questions are about him off the field. I don't want to rehash his troubled past at Ohio State, as that has been catalogued enough. After transferring to Eastern Kentucky, he had one alcohol incident last May, which was expunged after community service, and zero issues with the bigger demons that haunted him at OSU. The Colts, especially in the Grigson/Pagano era, have been notorious for avoiding players with character concerns. They avoid them like the plague. My question is: in your opinion, has enough time passed that the Colts would take him off of their do-not-touch list in the 1st round? Pending a favorable interview process, of course, which will likely have a big impact on where he could be drafted.
Bowen: That last part is going to be the biggest decision maker for me, Stan. The Combine interview with Spence (or any other prospect), plus all the background checks around him should shed plenty of light on where he stands on the Colts board. You are right. There's little to question about Spence's talent and his potential impact coming off the edge. Colts fans are intrigued by Spence, and rightfully so. I don't think the Colts brass would totally shun the idea of taking such a talented prospect. It's the background checks after background checks that are going to be the real deal breaker.
Korey B. (Washington)
Hello. So I look at alot of mock drafts including other teams forums. I was wondering when is Colts.com going to start throwing out some mock drafts. All I ever see is jake conklin and Taylor Deckers (not to fond of taking a tackle but it could be worse). It would be awesome to see some of the scouting reports and mock drafts from the minds inside the building. Thank.'
Bowen: Korey, last month we published our first Mock Draft compilation. The second look will come next week. I'm not sure if you are referring to Colts specific Mock Drafts, but those aren't coming. No team is revealing their draft board, for obvious competitive reasons.
Colton S. (Corvallis, OR)
With the hiring of Running Back Coach Jemal Singleton, is it an indicator that the Colts are going to be seriously considering Alex Collins in this years draft? Since Coach Singleton coached him in Arkansas and probably knows him better than any scout.
Bowen: You are spot on in that no coach in the NFL is going to know Alex Collins better than the Colts new running backs coach Jemal Singleton, who came from Arkansas. Now, that doesn't mean it's going to improve the Colts chances of drafting him or not. But it does mean the Colts will likely have a better read on Collins than any other team. I do think drafting a running back in the middle rounds would be a good avenue for this team.
Chris G. (Williamsburg, VA)
Hey Kevin! For the Hardcore fans that would like to attend the 2016 draft or future drafts, how would we go about going? It doesn't seem like there are tickets being sold and I cannot find any info online. Thank you for your help! Coltstrong!
Bowen: Chris, check out this website for potential information. I know last year Grand Park in Chicago was filled with fans as the draft moved from New York City. If I come along any more information, I will tweet it out.