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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Should The Colts Draft A Running Back In 2017?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about several draft possibilities for 2017, the Colts making a run at Cleveland linebacker Jamie Collins and what free agency will look like for this team come spring.

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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).

Justin R. (Haymarket, VA)

As we get closer to the draft we start to see more draft questions and mocks, with that being said and seeing our need for a rb what type of running back do you see us picking? Possibly a more shiftier and patient back like Bell of a power back like Gore.

Bowen: This is another good debate to have in the coming months. My initial thought is a multi-down back is a better fit. If you are looking purely at a "Gore replacement" then that would fit what is going out the door (Gore does have one more year left on his contract). You look around the NFL and you see more and more third-down specific backs. They seem to be easier to find and isolate in just a passing-down role. If you are looking for a one-year approach at running back, a shiftier guy makes sense, with Gore still around in 2017. But if we are talking long-term, then a multi (early) down back has to be the method. Sure, a guy like Le'Veon Bell would be the ideal fit, but he's such an outlier with his talent.

Timothy G. (Oxford, OH)

Hey Kevin, long time colts fan straight out of New England. I love your articles and this is my first time writing. My question to you is this, since the patriots let Jaime collins go, if he were to hit free agency next year do you see the colts attempting to go after him? He in my opinion is the ultimate match up for tight ends, some thing our team truly lacks. I know the colts are huge into versatility, with his ability to play both inside and outside linebacker I think this could truly boost the defense. What are your thoughts on this?

Bowen: The Colts have to at least explore the market value for Collins. I'd imagine it's going to be pretty high, but the Colts have to at least sniff around. With a linebacker overhaul expected in the coming years, Collins would obviously be a major part of such a transition. Now, the asking price for Collins is going to be immense. The Colts have money to spend, but the market value and demand for Collins might force them out. From a player standpoint, it makes sense. However, I totally understand if the Colts feel the need to distribute the money it would take for Collins in a couple of other areas. You could probably sign two-to-three players with the money it would take for Collins.

John F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)

Kevin, back to the upcoming draft. You have probably read this article, but want other to see it.

What are your thoughts on his picks? I haven't checked any of these guys out, but could not agree more with his thoughts on fixing the aging Colts defense.

Bowen: Those names fall right in line with my thinking for what the Colts need in this draft, especially in Round One. The rankings cover exactly how I view the positional needs. An inside linebacker that early in the draft (Alabama's Reuben Foster) might be a little early. But past draft history indicates inside linebackers taken that high often equal instant success (like center).

Evan B. (New Philly, Ohio)

Hi Kevin, I hope your having a wonderful day. My question today is about next year's draft. I often hear you say that OLB and Corner are our two biggest needs, so I was wondering if the Colts would consider drafting a guy like Jabrill Peppers in the first round. This guy can play both of those positions and would make an immediate impact on our Defense. Also, I agree with you that we need to draft a RB in next year's draft, but I think that we could draft one later in the draft, such as De'veon Smith from Michigan, and develop him behind Gore for a year or two, how do feel about that scenario? Thanks in advance and as always, Go Colts!

Bowen: You sound like a Michigan fan, Evan. I'm really intrigued to hear how NFL scouts view Peppers at the next level. He's listed right around 6-1 and 200 pounds, so him playing linebacker seems like a bit of a stretch. Safety appears to be the likely option for Peppers, with the ability to move around when sub packages come onto the field for passing downs. The Colts could be in line for a safety depending on what they do with Clayton Geathers. As far as running back, I'm perfectly fine with waiting on one come draft time. This is such a deep ball carrier group in 2017, that you should be able to find quality backs even when rounds 4-7 roll around on Saturday.

Dustin K. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Do we have alot of cap space or are we tight on money again and what free agents will we go after thanks and go colt

Bowen: Per Over The Cap, the Colts will have right around 45 million in cap space next year. To be honest, I haven't taken too close of a look at the free agent market. Finding an edge rusher in both free agency, and the draft, is a definite possibility to me with the current state of that group (older and entering free agency). Inside linebacker and cornerback are other possibilities. While you have money to spend, remember that young talent, playing on rookie contracts, has to be found in the draft. Also, you have to think long-term deals are eventually coming for Jack Mewhort and Donte Moncrief.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey Kevin! Thanks as always for your work for us fans. We've had a lot of discussion recently about the draft, specifically revolving around the 4 primary areas of need: OLB, CB, ILB, and RB.

While these are rightfully pointed out as our biggest needs in the draft, the draft itself is 7 rounds long and GM Ryan Grigson has shown a tendency to drift away from areas of need if/when he sees a player he likes. We can't read his mind on that front, but what are some positions you would like to see bulked up from a depth perspective? A big-bodied receiver to help fill that void in the offense whenever Donte Moncrief gets injured? More talented depth at any/all levels of the secondary? Probably not OL, as even though the line has struggled in terms of protection, Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg are part of the future of the group, and we will see Castonzo, Haeg, Reitz, Clark, Kelly, Mewhort, and Good locked up on next year's roster with either Harrison or Blythe as a backup center, setting up 8 of an expected 9 roster spots already. Would love to hear your take on the depth needs of the team rather than the starting lineup questions we're all familiar with. Thanks!

Bowen: Let me first start by saying, I really believe the four positions you initially mentioned are the biggest needs. I see a drop off in what comes next. But, like you said, drafting off strictly need is something you rarely see happen. If we are looking at other "depth positions" I think a swing tackle on the offensive line, another defensive lineman and even a tight end would make sense. Can you find another Joe Haeg-type guy in the 5th round? With regards to the defensive line, I like the depth there but that's a position group you can never have too many quality bodies waiting. At tight end, this would depend on what happens to Jack Doyle in free agency. If Doyle departs, then this moves a bit higher on my list.

Matthew V. (Indianapolis)

What is your opinion of D'Joun Smith?
Has he signed with another team? If not, are the Colts interested and would we able to sign him after his injury settlement?

Bowen: D'Joun Smith is currently on the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans. He joined them last week. Smith is still such an unknown in the NFL. He's played just 22 defensive snaps in the regular season. Even his preseason action has been limited. The Titans have had some cornerback troubles this season, so maybe Smith will get a chance in the final month of 2016.

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