Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Who Will Start At Linebacker, Next To D'Qwell Jackson?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about taking an offensive lineman in Round One, the case for edge rusher Noah Spence coming to the Colts and how backup quarterback Scott Tolzien fits in.

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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).

Evan B. (Indiana)

Since the draft is some what deep at OL, do you see us taking lineman first round or a defensive player. I heard that we are looking at Alexander and Ragland. If we decide to take a defensive player, which of these two do you think have a better shot at falling to us come the draft.

Bowen: This is a really good question. Because of the depth in the draft at OL, I steer more towards the defensive side of the ball. Those positions (OLB/CB) are more at a premium, IMO, so that's why I think you nab those early and then wait on the offensive line. I would think Ragland is the one that has the better chance at falling to No. 18. The mocks I've viewed have Alexander consistently in the early teens.

Chris N. (Orange County, CA)

Hello Mr. Bowen,

I have 3 questions relating my beloved Colts this week! And luckily for you none of them involve Ezekiel Elliot, Derrick Henry, or Duron Carter LOL

  1. Regarding Andrew Luck, what do you think of the idea of giving him a blank contract and letting him fill his own numbers out? After all, he is the face and future of the Colts franchise. In most instances, this would sound risky but I think #12 is smart enough(Stanford) to know his team would need left over money to spend on building a championship caliber roster, while making himself happy at the same time.
  1. With guys like Osweiler, Lamar Miller, Murray, and Malik Jackson joining the AFC South this offseason, the division looks a whole lot better on paper. TN, JAX, & HOU also have a huge age advantage over Indy. How can the Colts stay in playoff contention, and Super Bowl contention for that matter? Since they are primarily relying on a limited number of draft picks rather than FA's.
  1. The Colts competed against Carolina, beat Denver, & should've beat the Patriots but we all know where the tables turned in that one. That just shows how valuable a HEALTHY Andrew Luck is to the Colts. What do you predict the AFC South Standings look like at the end if the 2017 season?(If guys like Luck, Davis, Hilton, Dorsett, etc stay on the field)

Thank you for your time and your answers! I look foward to another great season as a die hard Colts fan!

Bowen: Haha Chris, words can't describe how much I appreciate you steering clear from the questions on Henry, Elliott, Carter. Okay, let's start with Luck. It sounds nice, but it's not happening. The Colts have to handle this contract knowing that how it's constructed is really going to impact how the team is able to operate going forward. No NFL team is going to allow a player, even as smart as Luck, to handle a blank check. The AFC South, on paper, has certainly improved. For the Colts, a lot of this year's success is going to come with how each unit can adapt to a new coordinator. A healthy Andrew Luck is quite the start for Rob Chudzinski. Then on defense, Ted Monachino is going to have at least three new starters. It's still going to be quite the jump for teams like Jacksonville/Tennessee to reach a Colts' team that went 8-8 without Luck for nine games. It is still very, very, very early to predict standings for next season (I assume you mean 2016, not 2017). Let's go with the Colts (11-5), Texans (10-6), Jacksonville (7-9) and Tennessee (6-10).

Izzy O. (San Diego)

Hey Kev, take a look at this draft board. I feel as if this would be perfect but let me know your thoughts. Some rounds are Or's cause I'm sure some players will be taken

1st: Noah Spence/Eli Apple/Mack Alexander

2nd: Ryan Kelly - C / Joshua Garnett - G

3rd: Artie Burns CB/ Xavien Howard CB/ Jaylon Smith LB / Scooby Wright LB

4th: Kyler Fackrell OLB

5th: Deon Bush FS / Max Tuerk C

Pass it to Grigson if you could lol, Thanks for your time again!

Coltstrong

Bowen: Izzy, you are definitely covering some key positions of need in your version of a Mock Draft. Those names you have in Round One should really excite Colts' fans. I really like the route you are taking in Round Two. Those are a pair of guys with a specific position and might be the top pure guard/center in 2016. Jaylon Smith dropping to Round Three just doesn't seem possible to me, but who really knows on that one? Overall, I like what you are doing with this.

Josh L. (De Graff, OH)

If Jaylon Smith from ND is available at the 18th pick, should the Colts think about drafting him even with the potential of him being out all of next year?

Also, would it be wise for the Colts to pay Luck most of his new deal up front during the first year so it has less impact on future years?

Bowen: Two weeks ago we received this sort of question and nothing has really changed news wise on him. Therefore, here is what I feel about the Smith debate: First, I'm going to direct you here for a more extensive article on Smith and the recovery road that lies ahead for him. This guy knows what he's talking about. I'll confess that I'm a Notre Dame fan and have been privileged to watch Smith leave as one of the best defenders in school history. His ability to cover ground, sideline-to-sideline, is remarkable. It's a shame we have to talk about a nerve injury and not the rangiest of linebackers being a sure fire top 5-10 pick. I understand what you are saying Stan, but it's all going to come down to the medicals. Marcus Lattimore's knee injury is a serious red flag to teams. The medicals are going to be the factor for Smith. Can teams afford to take the risk of a redshirt year in the first round? Ryan Grigson said several times at the Combine that the Colts are in a "building" state of their defense. I love Smith, but the caution flag is waving rapidly on him. It's going to come down to the medicals and how patient teams can be with so much unknown. For Luck, I think you could make a strong case for trying to front load his contract, if the funds are there right now to do such a thing. The Colts are of course going to try to construct it as friendly as possible to continue to be able to add the necessary pieces.

Matt W. (Plant City, FL)

Hi Mr. Bowen thanks for answering mine and everyones questions. Quick question though lol who in ur opinion would u pick up in the upcoming draft? And in what order? Just curious what u would do if u was the 1 picking up players in the draft and Thanks Mr. Bowen

Bowen: Well, Matt thankfully that's nowhere close to being on my list of job requirements. It's so hard to conjecture about specific players outside of Round One. I'm more of a "position-based picker" in going round-by-round. The Colts have six picks in 2016. So how about this order: CB, OLB, OG, ILB, C, RB. I think several of those could be interchangeable but that's kind of the order I'm setting on with the draft still more than a month away.

Jacob T. (Columbia, IL)

Kevin,

I follow the mailbag regularly and I'm surprised by what people are saying. I don't see offensive line as first or second day round pick. I would say the first and second round pick should be used on something like a corner back and a pass rushers respectively l. I know that you like the value of the CB out of Clemson though he may or may not be around at the 18th overall pick and even if that is so the DB draft class is extremely deep this year with tons of first round talent. I'm not a GM by any means (though my madden team is pretty sticking good at acquiring young talent) even if you can't get Alexander there is still Jackson, Apple, and Fuller not to mention plenty more in projected for second round talent as well. In my scenario I would draft either Alexander or Jackson with the 18th pick and in the second round I would target some one like Noah Spence a talent that is dropping because of his combine numbers or another guy that would be good to see taken here is scooby wright to take some of the pressure off of the loss of Jarrell freeman. I also want to mention two other guys that I find quite possibly 3 and fourth round steals. Erick Striker though undersized could be one of the best all around players on a team for years to come he is possibly the most versatile OLB/MLB/Box Safety in this draft he has the ability to rush the passers-by and the strength to set the edge as well as the ability and athleticism to cover a zone. And then there is Tyler Matakevich or as I like to call him (Placement) because he allways seems to be in the perfect spot to make a play as the middle linebacker he isn't projected to come off the boards until the 4 or 5th round though he is much more deserving of a 3 round pick.

Thanks for listening I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jacob Topliffe

Bowen: Jacob, I don't think you can totally eliminate offensive line from your thought process in the first three rounds. You clearly read the mailbag regularly (thanks and good luck with your Madden franchise) so you know my thought process in finding an impact defender in Round One. I think Friday is more than acceptable to address an offensive lineman. If the Colts could find another Jack Mewhort in Round Two, I think they would gladly sign up for that. I strongly agree with you in taking a very close look at corner/edge rusher in the earlier rounds knowing how quickly those talents can fly off the board.

James J. (England)

Hi Kevin! I read the mailbag every time you don one so keep up the great work!!

I've recently looked at some mock drafts and all the scouts have Noah Spence either going around pick 20 or later!

My question is with the scouts believing Noah Spence will drop that far and what Ryan Grigson said about the defence why don't I see them predicting the colts drafting him?

Bowen: This is a question I've had myself in reading recent Mock Drafts. It seems to me that draft analysts are steadfast in the Colts taking an offensive lineman in Round One. There's been barely any variety from the mocks in placing defensive players at No. 18. It's almost like they are just thinking: "Andrew Luck was hurt, so insert lineman here." Spence dropping is something I'm not completely sold on. I know he's had his off-the-field issues, but if he's really the clear-cut top edge guy in 2016, I can't see him lasting until the 20s.

Jesse W. (Virginia)

Mr. Bowen I really enjoy reading your mailbag every week. I have a concern. Is Pagano and Grigson planning on going high in the draft to get the Center out of Alabama? I'd like to see them focus on interior linemen and just OL in general for Lucks protection and health. Then maybe in the next few round take defensive players. I just think we have a better shot for the post season and division titles with him healthy. Thanks again. Been a die hard fan since 90. Go ColtsNation!!

Bowen: Thanks for following along, Jesse. This question is at the other end of the spectrum from our one above about waiting on offensive linemen. My only rationale against this sort of scenario is you can't ignore trying to build your defense with young, talented prospects. It's proven that quality interior guys can be found later in drafts (at the same time, they are also virtual locks when taken in the early rounds). I think the Colts will have done plenty of homework on Ryan Kelly (Alabama center). They also know that true centers rarely go that high, so maybe a trade could be in the works, if Kelly is the choice.

Marcus T. (Lakeville, CT)

If the Colts had the option to draft Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker, who would you prefer to have and why?

Bowen: Maybe it's the sign of spring here, but man we received some really, really debatable questions this week. Thank you everyone for that. When it comes to Conklin/Decker, it boils down to versatility, for me. The Colts have said they like what they have on the edges so that's why the initial look for either of these guys could come in the interior. Conklin would appear to be more "guard ready" in a pinch, but that's by no means a definite. Could Conklin/Decker play a year or two at guard before then moving to tackle? That might be the route to take, if the Colts make that choice at No. 18.

John F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)

Kevin,

I have been looking at 3-4 edge rushers coming up in the draft. After Bosa, Lawson,and maybe Dodd, I see the kid out of Maryland, Yannick Ngakoue being above most of the others. He is in the top 4. My reasoning is because of his consistent production and his level of competition. In 2014, he man-handled The offensive tackle out of Iowa, Brandon Scherff who was the 5th overall pick in the draft last year.This year, he has been very good going against several of the top rated tackles again. I am wondering why many scouts have him rates as a 2nd to 3rd round talent. If those other guys are gone, do you think this is a reach to go after him? I know this is all speculation, but I think this guy can produce in our system.

Bowen: From reading up on Ngakoue (Good luck to Bob Lamey if this is a Colts' draft pick in 2016), it seems like he's just a little raw and not a finished product, compared to the names you mentioned above. Guys like Joey Bosa, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd put up crazy numbers while helping their teams reach the top 10. I do think teams reach a bit for pass rushers (it's something NFL GM's talk about when it comes to the premium positions), so maybe some of those "second tier" guys slip into the backend of Round One.

Trenton R. (Greenfield, IN)

Hey Kevin. Thanks for the idea of doing Safeties next. I feel that the safety class drops of a bit after Jalen Ramsey in this draft class. But nevertheless, I will do my best with these prospects. Here we go!!

1) Vonn Bell, SS, Ohio State

Bell is an intriguing prospect at the safety position. Some question his size and ability to hit. Seeing as we are talking about finding a free safety, though, I feel that Bell has the talent and coverage skills to easily make the transition in the NFL. He is a heck of a player in man coverage and should be able to easily shadow most receivers in the NFL. Paired with Geathers in the secondary, the two could be a very formidable, hard-hitting duo.

2) Jalen Mills, FS, LSU

A somewhat overlooked defender at LSU, Mills has great coverage skills and is easily able to make up ground on receivers. He has a small stature, but so does another well known LSU safety, the Honey Badger himself. With the right coaching, Mills should turn into a solid player in the NFL.

3) Jeremy Cash, SS, Duke

One of the best tacklers in the draft, Cash is also one of the most intimidating safeties in college football. With consecutive 100 tackle seasons under his belt, Cash could be just what the Colts are looking for. While he sometimes gets to fixated on the ballcarrier to see blockers coming, he can easily deal with them when he does see them coming. I don't see anything wrong with the player he is!

Thanks again! This is week 5 of my prospects listing, but I am more than happy to start with something else if you would like. Don't be afraid to give me some more "homework"! Thanks and GO BLUE!!!!!

Bowen: Let's start off by saying, I think Jalen Ramsey is a tremendous talent. His ability to play cornerback or safety at the next level is so rare, and valuable. I fully expect him to be a top-five pick. With Mike Adams turning 35 years old this year, the Colts have to start thinking about finding another future cog on the backend of their defense. If you want to complement the physical nature of a Clayton Geathers at safety, that means a cover guy would be more enticing in my eyes. Bell and Mills fall in that category. It's not a must the Colts draft a safety in 2016, but it would make sense if they did go that route. Trenton, it's Spring Break season for our youth, so take the week off from any homework.

Clinton C. (Salt Lake City, UT)

Huge colts fan. Flew all the way out to Indy for the Bucs game last year. My question is why do the colts keep signing the mediocre players like Turbin. Why not invest the money in the play makers? second question, is Devote Booker out of Utah not a good fit for the colts on 3rd down? he is a solid back an carried the Utes team the entire time he was there. Just wanted your thoughts on that. thank you.

Bowen: Personally, I wouldn't classify Robert Turbin as a "mediocre player" at all. I think he's proven to be a productive backup in this league. As I said earlier, I wouldn't totally rule out the team drafting a running back. Turbin is on a one-year deal, with hopes of a long-term deal. From the very little I saw of Booker last year, I thought he had some definite pro potential. I do agree with you in the Colts looking for a third-down option to alleviate some of the workload off of Frank Gore.

George M. (Carson, CA)

My question is do you think we can hang with other AFC teams with all the free agency moves the other teams made do you think we will have a defense that can go up against top offenses ?

Bowen: I think people are putting a little too much stock into these AFC South teams all of a sudden making a quantum leap to the top of the division. Tennessee and Jacksonville have top-five picks this year. It's a lot to ask them to all of a sudden challenge for double-digit wins. I do think those teams are improved, but it just doesn't happen overnight. As free agency has taught us, the six teams who have spent the most over the last decade have combined to win just one playoff game. Free agency doesn't cure all.

Olin L. (Las Vegas, NV)

Going off from last year, could the Indianapolis Colts possibly draft a QB in the Draft this year? The reason I say is that the only QB we got besides Tolzien is Stephen Morris. Plus, is Grigson addressing the OL in the Draft as well?

Go C-O-L-T-S COLTS!!!

Bowen: I'd be a bit surprised if the Colts drafted a quarterback come April. The Colts have three quarterbacks on the roster right now (Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris). The team is high on Morris and I kind of look at him as a draft pick. The Colts aren't going to carry four quarterbacks on their 53-man roster and I'd be surprised if they carried four total when you include the practice squad. I fully expect the offensive line to be a focus in the draft.

Caleb D. (Columbus, OH)

Since the Browns released Carlos Dansby, could we see the Colts bringing him in for small money to help out likebackers since Jerrell Freeman left?

Bowen: The Browns did part ways with Karlos Dansby earlier this week. I don't think though that a soon-to-be 35-year-old linebacker is the answer next to D'Qwell Jackson. I am very curious to see what the Colts do with the open starting spot at inside linebacker. Returnees Sio Moore and Nate Irving have plenty of starting history, yet didn't see much defensive action in their first years with the Colts. Is Alabama's Reggie Ragland the guy, if he's there at pick No. 18? With Jackson up there in age, the Colts could use some young talent to build around in the middle of their defense.

Daniel W. (Indianapolis)

Kevin,

I noticed recently that the Colts signed a long snapper, Forrest Hill, to the roster. I know that roster size is largely irrelevant at this point, and evaluating different options is part of the process, but is there really a need for competition at long snapper? Is his contract up after this year? I can't recall a bad snap from Matt Overton. Thanks for your time.

Bowen: I don't think you would just bring in a player, just to bring in a guy. If Hill shows he can compete, then who knows what will happen. Yes, rosters are growing to 90 players so there's room for such an acquisition. I do recall the Colts having a second long snapper in here a couple of years ago. Overton is under contract through 2018 and has really been pretty flawless with his snapping since joining the Colts in 2012.

Terry H. (Indiana)

Would the Colts be interrested in drafting Jordan Howard if say availlable 3rd or 4th round?

Bowen: Ask me this last week and I would have said there was a good chance of the Colts taking a running back in the middle rounds. Since then, the team has signed Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman. I still believe a young running back could be drafted, but I don't think it's anywhere near the need that it was this time last week.

Gary Baier (Fairport, NY)

Kevin, The RotoWorld contracts information and their Colts roster lists Cody Galea as still being a member of the Colts. The Colts' website roster does not include Galea. Is this an issue with the RotoWorld database? This is tough time of year when Colts are not active in free agency and the draft is weeks away. Thanks!

Bowen: If you would ask me for a list of 1,000 topics for this week's mailbag, the name "Cody Galea" wouldn't have been on it. Galea, a 2015 undrafted free agent who spent last offseason with the Colts, was waived by the team last August off of injured reserve. Galea isn't under contract. Per OverTheCap, the Colts have $1,334 in dead money for the outside linebacker.

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