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Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Should T.Y. Hilton Be The Team's Punt Returner?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about finding new cornerbacks, the current roster makeup and if the Colts should draft a safety in 2017.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 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).

Adam H. (Lafayette, IN)


Who are some players at positions of need, OLB, CB & RB in this draft that you feel would make good Colts? Sounds like you watched a fair bit of college games, so I'm curious if you have any favorites who might end up as Colts. Thanks in advance.

Bowen: I'd be lying to you if I said that I knew THAT much about college football for me to go deep into a draft slotting specific players with positions. I'll give you some traits that I would be looking for each of those positions. At outside linebacker, the Colts need a guy with elite pass rushing traits. The Colts can bring that OLB along by using him situationally. But the dominant pass rush ability has to be there. At cornerback, a guy that excels in man coverage. The Colts thrive when their corners are able to play lock down man coverage. Then at running back, I think you could go two routes. If you are looking for the future lead back, an all-around guy of course makes sense. But if you are searching for one specific trait, a speedier back that can make plays in the passing game would really complement what the Colts have on the roster.

Jacob B. (Richmond, IN)

Hi there Mr. Bowen. First question, but I am a long time reader, and highly value your input. My questions, I have 3.
1. I have heard a lot of talk recently about the colts possibly trading down in the draft. I like this idea, but I wouldn't be opposed to trading up either to get a prospect like R. Foster. What are your thoughts on trading down (if so, who with), up (with who) or staying put? 
2. What is your ranking of needs colts need to address in the draft and what projected rounds the colts will address them? Mine would be(DL- 1st/4th, CB- 1st/2nd, RB-4th, OL-3rd)
3. Finally, Do you see any of the potential draftees starting from Day 1? If so who do you think would make the most immediate impact of either side of the ball? 
Thanks for your time, #InBallardWeTrust.

Bowen: Great to have you, Jacob. Appreciate the kind words. 1. If Reuben Foster is on the board at No. 15, put Kevin Bowen in the category as someone not a fan of trading down. The answer to this all depends on the board. And that's something Chris Ballard referenced when talking about trading down earlier this week. If the board has a can't miss guy when the Colts are on the clock, they aren't going to trade down. An elite defender to me would be too hard to pass up at No. 15. But if you have a couple there, or the board is totally barren, then go ahead and move back and collect some picks. 2. I like this. First-OLB, Second-CB, Third-RB, Fourth-CB, Fourth-TE, Fourth-ILB, Fifth-DL. You could jumble up those later rounds and mix it up a bit. 3. Without knowing the exact draftees, the Colts should have several rookies in the thick of starting competition. A corner is definitely going to be in that mix. A linebacker should as well. Even a tight end or a running back will compete for some offensive reps.

Dave L. (Colchester, VT)

I like Jarod Evans as a possible back up QB. I know he is coming out young with only 1 yr for Virginia Tech as starting qb but he had a very good year. He looked good on TV in games and combine. Some charts do not him in their top 10. Do you know if his interviews are dragging him down? Does he have a history problem? Also how many can't miss draft picks are there in this year's draft? Can we pick a can't miss defensive player picking 15? If not my thinking is trade down and get an extra 4th or 3rd rounder and get Watt laterer in the 1st round. Plus of course that quality possible starting OL in round 2.

Bowen: With Evans, I think he's just a little too raw for teams to view him as a slam dunk quarterback prospect. I'd be shocked if the Colts drafted him though with Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris already on the roster. In terms of "can't miss" prospects, I see a handful of those labels on the defensive side of the ball. I would be surprised if one fell all the way to No. 15 overall.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for all your hard work. My question is mercifully short today, followed by a longer, obligatory mock. My only question: do you think Darius Butler's shift to safety means that the Colts should draft a dedicated slot corner? As the upcoming mock will show, I think yes. However, I'd like to hear your thoughts. And now, time for yet another bored fan's mock draft:

R1-15, Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: Versatile with a high floor, Reddick provides an instant boost to the pass rush with the possibility of staying there or shifting towards being a blitz-capable inside backer in the future. If Barnett is here, he's also in the cards.
R2-46, Kevin King, CB, Washington: Frankly, every team will order their CB boards differently, so who knows which ones will be available. Just take the best corner remaining. Q. Wilson may fall, so he's another great possibility. Any number of press-man corners with safety position flex would work here.
R3-80, Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma: First off, I don't want this pick. It would make me wildly uncomfortable. I would much rather take McNichols from Boise State, who is basically a photo negative of Frank Gore as a player. But if Mixon is still here, we could see a Tyreek Hill situation if Ballard and Irsay feel like they can bite that PR bullet. While many may not like him, his talent is undeniable. Also, there's been rumors about Julie'n Davenport to the Colts. While I (like you) want a swing tackle prospect, I think Davenport goes in the 3rd and that's too high for me, considering our needs.
R4-121, Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU: A solid general inside backer to give the spot next to Sean Spence some competition.
R4-137, John Johnson, S, Boston College: I feel the unit needs an extra man for depth. I also think T.J. Green needs competition. Perhaps that's unfair of me, but Ballard has shown no need to feel bound by Grigson's past decisions. Johnson is a special teams stud whose soft hands and tracking in the back 4 remind me a bit of Mike Adams.
R4-144, Corn Elder, CB, Miami: As I said, I personally think Butler's move to safety opens up a need at slot corner. A deep CB class and very small stature will push Elder down draft boards, but this kid is a bulldog. He won't keep opposing OC's up at night, but his tape plays like a DC's dream as a fiery and physical role player willing to do the dirty work no matter his size. Elder is really fun tape study and I think coaches around the league will hate his body but love the player inside of it.
R5-158, Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova: One of my favorite unknowns in this draft, I don't know where to mock him. He's a small school prospect who didn't get a combine invite but has met with several teams, most notably the Texans, Chiefs, and Bills. Some sources have him as a priority FA, while some say he is a possible mid rounder. Most predictions I saw had him going in the 6th. I'm willing to gamble on him in the 5th. Tall, long, and crazy strong, he is an intriguing tackle project. Most of his strength is top-heavy, which concerns me, but with an NFL weight room to build his lower body and Joe Philbin to work on his kick-slide, he would be a worthwhile lottery ticket. Watch what little tape there is of him, because he's a really fun study.

Bowen: Are there any dedicated slot cornerbacks in college football? You see guys with those traits collegiately, but if you're a cornerback in college I don't think you're playing in the nickel for a majority of snaps. But yes I do agree with your thinking. Chuck Pagano threw out the idea of the Colts taking two cornerbacks in this year's draft. One of those should definitely have slot characteristics. I like your Mock Draft. But did you talk yourself right out of the Joe Mixon pick in your description?

Cam L. (Pelham, NH)

Hi Kevin, if Thomas, Foster, and Barnett aren't there when our pick comes in the first round, who would you consider the best choice? How would you feel about Tabor, Cook, or Lamp? I personally wouldn't want any of them 3. If it were up to me, I'd either trade down or slightly reach for someone like Reddick. What are your thoughts?

Bowen: I'm becoming more and more of a Hasson Reddick fan. Of the three you mentioned, Tabor would be my best guess, but I think you trade down in that situation.

Max S. (Indianapolis)

Last year, the Colts drafted 4 O-linemen. Do you think there are any positions that the Colts will draft multiple players at this year?

Bowen: Cornerback and linebacker are my two best guesses. At linebacker you could obviously have an outside and an inside guy. As I mentioned above, taking multiple corners is something that has already been mentioned by the Colts. I think there's a good chance that happens later this month.

Tony H. (Los Angeles)

Hi Kevin!

Since Peyton Manning era began back in 1998, the COLTS have never focus
on DEFENSE. They just get fill ins.
They have never truly had an impact player on DEFENSE WHO WAS NOT HURT EVERY TIME YOU TURN AROUND. Why do you think they only focus on OFFENSE.

Bowen: I think Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and a healthy Bob Sanders would like to have a word with you. But yes, the Colts have contributed more resources to the offense. Did it have its positives? Yes. The Colts put together the winningest decade in the history of the NFL in the 2000s. Looking ahead, the Colts have the offense largely in place. It's time to put some mega resources on the other side of the ball. We will see if that happens April 27-29, when the 2017 Draft unfolds.

Jim J. (Tucson, AZ)

Thanks for answering questions for Colts fans. I'm a long time Colt fan. In my first NFL game I watched Tom Matte qb the Colts to victory over Green Bay Packers. I believe Johnathan Hankins is a game changing Defensive tackle. He makes everybody around him better. I know he is asking for too much money right now but as the draft comes closer and he's still unsigned I believe he will come down on his asking price. Do you think the Colts will make a bid on him if he comes down on his price?

Bowen: If the asking prices does come down, I could certainly see the Colts entering the picture. They've flirted with some interior defensive lineman already this offseason and Hankins has great film playing a position of need in Indianapolis.

Gavin Y. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin, what would you think about using a 4th or 5th round pick on S Fish Smithson from Kansas State? I think that he is underrated and would be great for depth and possible starter in the future.

Bowen: I can't say I know too much about Mr. Smithson. I'm not sold on the need of having to take a safety in the draft. But I don't think it's the craziest idea at all. I would be fine with a fourth or fifth round safety.

Kade M. (Texas)

How many players do we currently have on our roster right now that will start week 1?

Bowen: I have counted the numbers and the roster is at 72 players. So that leaves room for seven draft picks, plus 11 undrafted free agents, with the Colts possibly shrinking that number if they sign any other FAs before the draft.

Samuel S. (Owensville, IN)

Thanks for answering my last question! I have another question for you, what are the chances of the Colts bringing in a guy like Blount? He's proven to be a solid RB for the Patriots and he runs all over us every year, so why not bring him in to help us compete against the Patriots?

Bowen: Eh, I get what you are saying, but I don't think it will happen. The Colts seem okay with a duo of Frank Gore/Robert Turbin, plus a 2017 draft pick at running back.

Kevin R. (Michigan)

T.Y. Hilton was a punt returner in his rookie year. So why exactly did the Colts take him out of that role because he was pretty good at it to.

Bowen: One, the Colts probably don't want to expose the smaller Hilton to unnecessary hits on special teams. I'm perfectly fine in keeping Hilton as the No. 1 wide receiver and not putting him out for punt returns. Chester Rogers showed some late season promise on punt returns. Let Rogers handle those duties and keep Hilton at receiver, where the Colts have to have him healthy for the offense to flourish.

John Y. (Franklin, IN)

Hi Kevin, I see where Irsay, would trade down to maybe another pick in the second or third round, which I agree with. If so what about this senerio. A pick in the latter part of round one could be a cornerback or and great running back, then with our second round pick, go with Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova, the guy was terrific at the combine, and is under the radar for round one. He is a freak of nature. Not sure he will be there at 46. Then we would have pick which would be a win win situation. Your thoughts, thanks

Bowen: That's a raw pass rusher the Colts would be getting in Round Two. With any and all trades, it's going to depend on what the draft board looks like when the Colts get on the clock. I would probably want more of a ready-now pass rusher, but there's plenty of build up for Kpassangnon.

Theis S. (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Helle again Kevin! 
This time i would like to here about the colts' meetings with draft-prospects.
Have you heard about any meetings and how they went?
Where can i find information about these meetings myself?

I ask because on, they often write about these College players meeting teams, and i never see the colts among the teams, which i don't understand.. 
thx for the evaluation on ted and also your article aboyt Chuck pagano! Very insidefull!

Bowen: The top-30 visits teams have aren't made public. Unfortunately, there's not too much information to provide on these visits. The Colts are keeping things very internal. I will say that just because a team visits a player (or vice versa) doesn't meant that "said player" is definitely coming to Indianapolis. Guys take visits all around the league. Many times the visits are for later-round draft picks, too. I wish I had more details to give you.

Simon B. (Greenville, SC)

Hello to all, and thanks for taking my questions;1) Are you aware of any plans the Colts may have for WR Chester Rogers? 2). Are the Colts holding on to Dorsett simply because Grigson expended a 1st round selection ? 3) How come there has been no effort to hire Rex Ryan as Defensive Coordinator ?; he certainly would be an upgrade over the last 3 defensive coordinators. Quite plainly, Pagano is terrible as a defensive coach, and Monacheno lacks experience. Thanks to all!

Bowen: 1. The Colts should, and will, let Rogers compete for reps at the receiver position. Rogers deserves that and the Colts granted him more and more looks late last season. Rogers is a name to watch this offseason. 2. No. I think Chris Ballard has made it clear that he isn't afraid to cut ties with past players, no matter their contract situation or where they were drafted. Dorsett is still young and Ballard wants to see if that potential can develop in an all important third season. 3. Well, Rex Ryan wasn't available when the Colts made the hire of Ted Monachino. Who knows if Ryan wants to be a coordinator again. Maybe he's holding out for his next head coaching job.

Mario L. (New Jersey)

Kevin!!! Hope all is well! Thank you for sharing and answering my question about the draft. Since then I have been seeing Anderson (Bama) getting sneaky good reviews and moving up on done boards my friend. What's out for this kid! I personally believe Ballard is making all the right moves b to make some noise around the league and more importantly, in house. I know these are annoying from time to time. But ib have a draft order and i would live to spark a little debate as to whether or not this would be a perfect draft for us. Please, let me know. What are your thoughts. Feel free, anyone, to be brutally honest if I'm delirious here. LoL!!

Dream draft
1stCharles Harris LB Missouri, 2ndChidobe Awuzie CB Colorado
3rdRyan Anderson LB Alabama
4thBucky Hodges TE Virginia Tech
4thDevine Redding RB Indiana or Brian Hill RB Wyoming 
4thKendall Beckwith LB LSU
5thCollin Buchanan OT Miami (OH)

All the best Bowen! Keep up the fantastic work!!


Bowen: Personally, I'm a fan of this Mock Draft. You really take care of pretty much every need. I might toss in another cornerback at some point in the draft, but I really don't have any issues with your haul. You are defensive heavy, while taking care of the few offensive needs still out there.

Jacob G. (Lawrenceburg, IN)

I under stand that we need to draft defense. What defensive player should we draft i know we need linebackers and A safety because Mike Adams left for NC. But should we go safety in the first round or should we go inside linebacker? Or should we go defensive linemen?

Bowen: In regards to positions on defense, I go with outside linebacker and cornerback atop my wish list. Safety isn't too much of a need for me because you have Clayton Geathers, Darius Butler and T.J. Green. Defensive line could be in the cards at some point in the draft, but I don't think it's an absolute must.

Terry G. (Greenwood, IN)

Hello Mr. Bowen. Sorry to be so bothersome. But I have a new question about the draft. In my last question I asked about TJ Watt. If the Colts trade back he is the one we need to take. But if we stay at 15 what do you think about drafting Forrest Lamp! He is projected to be a guard at the next level and he looks to be a road grader! I still think we need to take TJ watt. But I would not be opposed to a guard like that. As always what are your thoughts. And as always GO COLTS!!

Bowen: I don't like it. The offensive line pieces are there, in my opinion. I'd be okay with adding a versatile offensive lineman later in the drafat, but not in Round One. You have to find blue chip defensive talent with those premium picks.

Gregory J. (Wilmington, DE)

Hey Kevin,
Thanks for answering my question last week. I'm wondering if he's still on the board when we pick, we Get Jabrill Peppers and put him at corner and have him in sub packages as well

Bowen: Can Peppers be an NFL corner? I'm not sure he can in a base defense. That's my worry and why I would shy away from such a pick.

Justin G. (Yorktown, IN)

Do you think RB-Joe Mixon will still be available when the Colts pick in the second round? 

If he is, do you think Ballard should pick him? (2nd/rd) Since he has gone multiple years with no further incident.

Bowen: I honestly have no clue how to project Mixon. You hear some teams have completely taken him off their draft board. Yes, Chris Ballard and the Chiefs took some chances on guys before. But the Mixon case, and really all "red flag" studies, must be treated individually. The video of Mixon's incident is there, unlike many other players with off-the-field issues. I still think Round Two is a tad early for a running back, so I would probably pass.

James J. (Indianapolis)


Just curious on your opinion of some players in the upcoming draft.

1.) Humphrey vs Wilson - who do you like more and why? (also curious if you have heard that Humphrey has problems playing the deep ball. I have seen a couple scouts saying he is a liability on deep throws).

2.) Jonathan Allen - thoughts on his fit (I have seen him drop some in mock drafts because of his shoulder issues)

3.) Taco vs Takk - curious as to who you like more and why? (little bit of a reach for both but cannot argue with the potential).

Thanks for the response!

Bowen: 1. I really don't have much of a prefence on either. Maybe Wilson if you forced me to pick, but I'm not sold on definitely picking one over the other. 2. I just can't see him falling all the way to No. 15 overall. The Colts can find a fit for Allen. That should not be a question. I think he's too talented of an interior prospect to fall to the second half of Round One. 3. Probably Takk. I think he's more of a pure pass rusher who can contribute early on. Taco is more of a project in him trying to grow into the potential some scouts see with his frame.

Dennis G. (Anderson, IN)

Two ideas for trading back in this years draft based on a trade table used to estimate fair trade values. 

1st-- trade down from the 15th pick to the 22nd pick with Detroit and also get these picks 85(3), 127(4), 165(5), 205(6) and 215(6).
Colts end up with the following picks in this year's draft
22,46,80,85,121,127,137,,144,158,165,205,and 215.

2nd -- trade down from 15 with the Saints and get picks 32(1) and 42(2).then trade pick 46 to Broncos and receive picks 51(2) and 124(4) plus 5th rounder in 2018.
Colts would end up with the following picks in the draft: 32,42,51,80,121,124,137, 144 and 158. 

What do you think of this strategy?

Bowen: I'm not sure your trade backs are that realistic. Those seem like a lot in return for the Colts.

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