Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Should The Colts Draft An Offensive Lineman?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about the future for Clayton Geathers, drafting Alabama’s Reuben Foster and the debate of Dalvin Cook vs. Leonard Fournette.

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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.

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).

Dalton J. (Illinois)

Hi Kevin, do you think Clayton Geathers has the potential to be a solid starter for us? He reminds me alot of Bob Sanders and I love hard hitting safteies.

Bowen: Yes. Definitely. In my mind, Clayton Geathers is a major piece of the defensive future in Indianapolis. When Geathers was on the field last year, this defense had its best tackler present. Geathers and Henry Anderson are the two for sure young defensive guys to build around going forward.

Thomas G. (Tucson, AZ)

Hey Kevin how are you doing this week?

I've been seeing alot of questions about mock drafts and so on. I was wondering if you can tell me your mock draft what do you have in mind that could possibly happen?

And I was looking at the Colts 2017 schedule. Not sure if it's final but from what I seen I believe we might have the easiest schedule in the past years. I believe with the changes at GM and his intelligence were going to have a turn around this season coming. I'm saying we get back to the 10 wins this season. I just wish I could predict the future. Haha thank you for everything Mr Kevin. Is all from colts nation appreciate all the hard work you put in for us and this mail bag. Thank you. Have a great week.

Bowen: Thomas, I'm doing great. Some interesting weather lately, but that's Indiana for you. I'd be lying to you if I could hand out names in the 5th, 6th and 7th rounds for the Colts. So, I'll lay out a six-position Mock Draft (which should change in the next month when compensatory picks are announced). Let's go with this: OLB, CB, ILB, RB, DT and OT. With the schedule, the Colts do have the "easiest" slate in the NFL next season, based on 2016 results.

Lucas P. (Indiana)

I don't have as much confidence in the young offensive line as you and many others have. Even though the sacks were down at the end of the year, Luck was getting hit just as much. The consequences of having an inexperienced line is potentially injury to Luck, which would be disastrous -- far worse than losing a couple of games because of an inexperienced defense. Also, offensive linemen age well, and can be effective in their 30's. So I think we should go young on defense and build through the draft, but we need to pick up an experienced RT or RG in free agency.

Or how about this (wild) idea? Trade a 3rd or 4th for Joe Thomas, and move Costanzo to RT? Now instead of 2 question marks at tackle (yes, I consider Costanzo at question mark at LT), you have have a Hall of Famer at LT and a high-end RT. One move makes 2 positions much better.

Bowen: We had a couple of offensive line inquiries this week. I understand where you're coming from on the first part. And that's something Chris Ballard will have to evaluate. Are Joe Haeg and Le'Raven Clark ready for full-time roles? I say you give them a chance to see what they can do. In regards to your Joe Thomas trade, didn't Cleveland want a first-round pick for him? If that's the case, no can do on that trade. Also, is it a given Anthony Castonzo could transition to right tackle seamlessly? He's never played a snap there in six NFL seasons.

Marcus Z. (Fresno, CA)

Pretty significant news here with the Colts releasing D'Qwell Jackson today. Does this possibly shift the need for an OLB in the first round to maybe MLB in the first round? Or are there some viable options in free agency?

Bowen: I wouldn't go that far. I still think you return less off the edge and that pass rusher is just a bigger need in general. Inside linebacker is certainly a need though and it was even before you released D'Qwell Jackson. Taking an inside linebacker in Round One isn't something I think is wrong at all. I just think when weighing OLB vs. ILB, that OLB is higher on the list. There are some options in free agency that can be explored.

Jerry H. (Huntington, IN)

I want to know why the Coltc are not looking for a game breaking running back! Frank Gore was a great back, back in the day! Frank Gore is not a back like the Falcons have in Freeman snd Coleman!!! Why did the Colts let Tevin Coleman escape Indiana? I almost and am still letting my season tickets go!

Bowen: Who says they aren't looking for a game breaker at running back in 2017? Chris Ballard said earlier this week the Colts are looking for weapons around Andrew Luck. In my mind, a home run threat at running back would fit that exact description. Frank Gore is still more than serviceable, but the Colts do need some more sizzle behind the future Hall of Famer.

Alex H. (Indianapolis)

Dear Mr,Bowen,

I have constructed a draft and free agent strategy that I think is good. 
RD1:OLB
RD2:CB
RD3:RB
RD4:ILB
RD4(compensatory):CB
Rd5:Safety.
RD6:NT

This way we have addressed the need for a new running back, and we have upgraded the defense an all levels. Plus this way we can focus in free agency to bolster the O-Line. Because even though it came together late in the year it needs some work to play like that all year long. What are your thoughts on this strategy?
Alex H.

Bowen: I think you sent this in before the release of D'Qwell Jackson. Let's slide inside linebacker up another rung on your Mock Draft. I still think an offensive lineman in the draft that's similar to Joe Haeg makes a lot of sense this offseason. But overall, I like your thinking here.

Dan A. (Muncie, IN)

I was thinking about the current punter situation. It wouldn't seem to be a position that you would draft. I was wondering why teams don't have an open compition on that position? Make it interesting like any kicker from any college football program can compete. Have prizes for the kickers who win in certain catagories (coffin corners, longest punt, tackling, etc.) and sign the two overall best kickers. Then you could have them compete for a roster position during pre-season. Just a thought.

Bowen: Teams often have open kicking competitions, but just not publically displayed like I think what you are hoping for. We don't hear about them in Indianapolis because the kicking situations have been so darn stable for the past decade or so. The Colts could go the open punting route to find Pat McAfee's replacement, or if the right guy is there in free agency/the draft, they can jump on that. Remember, the Colts have evaluated kickers well in the past. Both Brandon McManus and Cody Parkey kicked for the Colts at recent Training Camps. They both went on to become starting kickers elsewhere in the league. So fans should have trust in special teams coordinator Tom McMahon to find a versatile, quality new punter.

Andy D. (Reading, UK)

With defence a big question for Chris Ballard what do you think of the Colts making a run at free agent Chris Baker from Washington? I think he could be a good addition and good value.

Love your work by the way!

Bowen: Baker is one of the more under the radar interior defensive line names in free agency. He's probably not a popular name to most fans, but he was extremely productive this past season in Washington. We get into this throughout the mailbag: how does Chris Ballard view the physical makeup of his defensive line? By this I mean, does he want some bigger bodies in there to clog up space? From a mass standpoint, the Colts haven't had the widest bodies up front. Will that change under Ballard? In Kansas City, the Chiefs used bigger guys in their 3-4 scheme. So that's something to keep an eye on. If that's the case, Baker would be a great fit.

Josh K. (Ontario, Canada)

Hey Kevin, I am a regular mailbag reader of yours from here in Ontario, Canada!

I was a huge fan of drafting henry anderson and david parry... stanfords defense was one of the best at the time and they had a large part of it. I believe anderson will return to form... and david parry has been so durable. I think we see a jump from him in year three. But my question is...

Did you see enough from parry's play to earn him another season as the starter, in your assessment did he play well? average? I thought he did well but there still is room for improvement. On the defensive line there is always need for more bodies since it is a such a group that rotates a lot.

Thank you!

Bowen: David Parry was more productive in Year Two, something he mentioned as a key following his rookie season. Parry's durability (32 starts out of 32 possible games played) is amazing for a fifth-round pick. He has yet to miss a game and that can't be taken for granted in a banged up defensive line group. I do think a nose tackle upgrade could be an avenue the Colts explore in 2017. From a body type standpoint, Parry (6-2, 310 pounds) isn't your prototypical 3-4 nose. If Chris Ballard wants a similar body to what Kansas City had in Dontari Poe (6-3, 346 pounds) in the middle of the defensive line, then we could see a change at the nose position.

Juan R. (New Jersey)

Can Tony Jefferson be a target for the Colts in free agency?

Bowen: Is Jefferson not a re-sign option for the Cardinals? I'd assume he definitely will be a priority for them. Now, I don't think going out on the open market and getting a safety is a must this offseason. You have several options in-house to solidify your starting spots next season. Again, a theme throughout today's mailbag, you must decide what your most important needs are and how to allocate the resources available. To me, safety isn't high enough on the list.

James C. (North West, England)

Hi Kevin. I am a huge Colts fan but I unfortunately live in the U.K. I follow this team as much as I can and always love reading your articles. My question is quite mainstream as it's about the draft and FA. After watching film and reading analysis of Reuben Foster I can't begin to describe what a player he would be for us. He is the tone setter that we very much lacked last year and our defence needs that bit of nasty to make our defence tough again. I also would love for us to select a very big and strong D-lineman to plug up the run game in round 2 and hopefully manufacturer a trade so that we can have two second rounders so we can pick Marcus Maye who is a hard hitting safety that we need along with Geathers (move TJ Green to corner). In FA pick up either Melvin Ingram or Nick Perry with the money we have, one of those guys is easy to get surely? Thank you for your time and I'd love to hear your response! Take it easy, from the biggest colts fan in the UK!!!!

Bowen: Reuben Foster in Round One would change the future of this defense regarding its signal caller and the man in the middle for the foreseeable future. When Foster made tackles for Alabama, you hardly needed to look at the number on his jersey to realize it was him. Now, the one thing I will disagree with is how you are going to take care of the pass rushing need. Yes, free agency can (and should) be used. But you have to go into the draft as well. You need to get younger at that position, along with upgrading the talent. That position got too old over the years without any real up and coming presence. You can't ignore outside linebacker in the draft, at all.

Reid D. (Texas)

in a perfect world imagine cooks and fournette are both on the board, who do you choose?

Bowen: Well, I would go with defense. But, I understand the question and this would be a great "problem" to have for the Colts. Both are great, great options that I see being long-term answers to solving the lead back issue for teams in the NFL. If I HAD to pick one, I'm going to go with Dalvin Cook. I like his ability out of the backfield and see a tad more explosion in his game. I'd want some game-breaking nature to my starting running back. Leonard Fournette has it, but Cook is just a notch above him, in my eyes. It's real, real close though.

Michael A. (Noblesville, IN)

Has the Fullback position gone the way of the dinosaurs in Indianapolis?

Bowen: Haha, the fullback position in Indianapolis has been lingering on extinct for quite some time. The Colts have improvised with Jack Doyle, Dwayne Allen, Mo Alie-Cox and even using a defender (David Parry) or another running back (Robert Turbin) lining up at the fullback spot. Rob Chudzinski clearly didn't need a fullback last year in using other more versatile parts to keep a defense guessing. I don't see this philosophy changing anytime soon.

Chad A. (New Palestine, IN)

Kevin,

Obviously we have all seen countless mock drafts, projecting everything under the sun on defense, and some selecting the likes of a Cook from Florida State. What I don't seem to understand is why there isn't more talk of Jabrill Peppers from Michigan? I can recall being frustrated as we passed on honey badger in the second round, and he's been nothing but a valuable asset to the cardinals since (obviously they took a chance on him with his off the field issues) To me, you don't pass on playmakers, even if that means him playing a hybrid safety/OLB/kick returner role. This defense HAS to have a playmaker, especially to be able to bail us out from the safety position. Having Peppers, and Geathers as a safety/OLB tandem seems formidable to me, especially since it seems as though the NFL is trending in this direction with defensive style anyways. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks!

Bowen: The scouting world seems very torn on projecting Jabrill Peppers at the next level. His coverage stats in college were not at an elite level. Honey Badger had much more specific coverage traits. That seems to be missing from Peppers. And Peppers' size makes it difficult to project him as a definite safety/linebacker. You would really need to juggle your defensive formation in finding a place for Peppers on multiple downs. Unless a specific role can be carved out for Peppers, I think the 14 or 15 spot in Round One is too high for his selection.

Paul H. (Nashville)

I was listening to Kevin Bowen talk about cornerback being a bigger need than most realize and I completely had this thought process for months now.

What are the chances Marshon Lattimore is available round 1, and could you see the Colts turning around and finding a way to add more draft picks and acquiring possibly a 2nd corner early in the draft. Say like an elite nickel CB prospect in Jourdan Lewis?

Bowen: The mocks I've seen indicate Lattimore could be there when the Colts get on the clock in Round One. I don't think the Colts need to spend two picks that early on cornerbacks, but taking one early on should address the need. Remember, Vontae Davis is in a contract year. Plus, Davis and the other top Colts' corners are reaching the age of 30. You have to start thinking about the future at cornerback. Also, taking a cornerback early would help out the pass rush need, too.

Jake B. (Indiana)

Hey Kevin thanks for doing this every week. I just wanted to pass an idea by you. What if the colts selected Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen with the first pick. (Both are very solid pass rushers.) and put one of them as or 5 tech. This would help boost the inside pass rush and then in the second round pick Tj watt or Carl Lawson. Those two picks would make or pass rush a lot more better. Also what are your thoughts on Adams (Auburn), Freeman(Texas) and Tomlinson(ALA)

Bowen: Is Jonathan Allen really going to fall all the way to 14 or 15? I don't think so. Thomas seems like much more of a realistic option in the range the Colts are picking. I'm still more of an edge guy with the first-round pick. The other names you mentioned are definite options at positions of need/improving the defensive front.

Jared W. (Indiana)

With Green Bay releasing Sam shields should we sign him to have some depth at the CB position?

Bowen: When I think about addressing the cornerback need, I'm in search of a more younger option than Shields. The Colts right now have three other cornerbacks nearing the age of 30---Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson and Darius Butler---like Shields. I could see free agency used for another cornerback. But this is a deep draft class for corners, so that route is a little more enticing to me.

Dayton M. (Louisville)

Hey Kevin, my question would be that in free agency, now that we have some cap room free, would it be smart to grab Zeitler from the bengals. I feel we need improvement at the G spot to protect our Franchise QB. And would trying to grab Reuben foster by trading up. I've seen him going as early as 7th pick. I would love your thoughts on this. Thanks

Bowen: The asking price for Kevin Zeitler is probably going to be pretty high. I think you need to commit your resources elsewhere this offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I just don't think you have enough resources to assign a substantial amount to the offensive line (see below my thoughts for the offensive line). You've got to pick and choose your spots. You committed a bunch of resources to the line last year. It's time to see what they can do, while taking care of other needs. I don't know if you trade up for an inside linebacker. I do see ILB as a need, but that's asking a lot to trade up for a non-pass rusher.

Sam B. (Winchester, IN)

Hi Kevin thank you for answering all us fans questions in your weekly mailbag with that being said I will jump into my question. This time of year we will be seeing a ton and ton of mock drafts and I have seen quite a bit so far with the Colts pick at 15 Dalvin Cook don't get me wrong definitely need to upgrade that position because Frank is definitely not getting any younger but I believe are draft needs defensive players and more defensive players I've also seen where we go with offensive lineman in the middle rounds...middle rounds? What is logic on drafting offensive line in the middle rounds I believe there is no need for it considering last year's draft? Thank you for your time have a good week.

Bowen: I would not be opposed at all if the Colts took an offensive lineman in the middle rounds this year. Think if you could get a Joe Haeg 2.0? Haeg was a fifth-round pick last year and came in as a rookie ready to contribute at multiple spots. A swing tackle in the middle rounds would be a nice piece to add to a core that looks pretty solid personnel wise.

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