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:Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey Kevin! I have a question for you about the NT position. Ever since HC Chuck Pagano brought his 3-4 to Indianapolis, I have lamented the fact that the team has not secured a dynamic nose tackle. In a 3-4, the 0 technique really is the one who sets the tone and establishes how much flexibility the linebackers have. Josh Chapman always felt more like a backup than a starter, but I was still surprised when he was cut before the season.
As it turned out, that was due to how rookie David Parry looked to the staff during the offseason. I was pleasantly surprised with his early play to start the season. Props to him for starting every game this year and being available for the team. He definitely dropped off as the year went on, but he showed that he can play in this league. In addition, Zach Kerr has flashed on tape as a backup big man in the trenches.
With that being said, this draft has excellent depth at the NT/DT positions, especially in the first three rounds. In the first round, Alabama's A'Shaun Robinson and Baylor's Andrew Billings could be the best prospects available. And you don't have to look hard to see the impact of stud NT's on the character of a 3-4 defense (Vince Wilfork was underrated as the core of the Patriot defenses of the mid-late 2000's, Ravens-vintage Haloti Ngata lost shine in the shade of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed but remained a dominant tempo-setter, and Albert Haynesworth was a terrifying force in Tennesse).
What do you think of David Parry, and does the talent at NT/DT in rounds 1-3 of the draft make drafting one a possibility?
Bowen: This is a great question, one that hasn't really garnered a bunch of noise on the offseason needs list. You're right in that the Colts have been searching for a nose tackle the past few years. I thought the Colts received very worthwhile snaps from David Parry and Zach Kerr in 2015. I'm with you though---if there's a nose tackle that falls to you, I don't think you can shy away from that. Personally, if Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson can return to full health, the defensive line isn't glaring atop the needs list. You can never have enough depth up front though, so if the right interior guy is on the board at No. 18 (or even later), I wouldn't turn my head completely.
Matthew R. (Texas)
There have been a lot of questions about drafts and free agency, but has there been any talk about trades that could work in our benefit? Maybe trade some players from position groups that we are fairly deep in, to get a little deeper in the positions that we are not.
Bowen: Matthew, trades are just so hard to predict and even construct in the NFL. This professional league, more than any other, has very, very few trades. You occasionally see a couple pop up in the spring when position groups get crowded. Right now, I don't see any spots for the Colts that scream to me "plenty of depth, guys are expendable."
Terry W. (Ocklawaha, FL)
I'm thinking the Colts biggest need in the off season is another shut down CB. When Polian first came to the Colts the first thing he did was find 2 CB's that could make a opposing teams throw short passes or run the ball. Smart man. Grigson needs to do the same. We also need another run stopper and some offensive line help so we can keep Andrew upright. Do you agree?
Bowen: The cornerback debate doesn't really seem like too much of one to me. Greg Toler's a free agent. Darius Butler will be 30 years old and plays the nickel. Last year's third-round pick D'Joun Smith played just 20 defensive snaps in 2015. Finding a staring cornerback opposite Vontae Davis is a must this offseason. Whether it's in the draft or through free agency, the Colts will be looking to find a starter.
Oscar N. (Sweden)
what is the time table for Henry Andersons injury? Is he going to be fit till training camp? He was somewhat of a revelation last season so I can't be more exited to see him back on the field.
Greetings from Sweden
Bowen: There has been no update on Anderson. I'd expect one coming at the Combine later this month. That's the next time Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson are expected to meet with the media. The rehab timetable for Anderson is going to be something to watch. He tore his ACL on Nov. 8. It would have to be a very prompt recovery for Anderson to be full-go by Week One. If he recovers in time and the Colts can get a healthy campaign from Arthur Jones, all of a sudden the defensive line depth has a lot of quality.
Chris M. (South Dakota)
My question today would be the rumor regarding peyton. All signs point to a retirement. Would there be an agreement between the Broncos and the colts to do a trade or broncos drop peyton so the colts can sign him to a 1 day contract and retire as a colt?. I just cant imagine peyton retiring as a bronco. It would be sad to see that happen. He deserves to come back home where he's done so much for this organization and the community. What's you thoughts
Bowen: Over the next month, we should have plenty of clarity (and debate) over where Peyton retires, if this is the "last rodeo." Considering how the Colts have handled other former greats, I think every effort would be made to try and have Peyton retire as a Colt (for one day, or whatever is necessary). Jim Irsay has said he's already reached out to Peyton to offer such a "retirement." What Peyton has meant to the Colts franchise has been well documented and his impact is still seen to this day, throughout Indianapolis. Without knowing Peyton's hope, I'd be very surprised if he didn't retire as a Colt.
Dan T. (Hilton Head, SC)
Hey Mr. Bowen: I see alot of people complaining about the O-Line but they are missing the fact that Andrew is responsible for many of the sacks. He doesn't want to give up on routes, waits longer than most and then still tries to throw even in the grasp. Do you believe that the new OC and QB coach can get thru to him to run and gain 4 yards?
Bowen: I don't think it's fair to label Andrew Luck as being "responsible for many of the sacks." Does Luck's propensity and drive to keep so many plays alive lead to more sacks? Sure. But I don't think he's to blame for the high hit numbers. Every time Luck has spoken post-injury he's mentioned the need to slide more, realize how valuable his presence is on the field. I think Luck being sidelined for nine games was quite the eye opener to his health. I fully expect Luck to be smarter with his decision making ultimately leading to excess hits.
Stephen J. (LaPorte, IN)
Everyone seems to think that we have to go OL in the first round. Now I completely agree we need to raise talent on the OL but personally I would prefer OLB Noah Spence in the first. We need a pass rush and he has a lot of elite qualities and to me seems like could be the best option and maybe try for Nick Martin in the second round. To me that sounds better for the team. Your thoughts? Also believe the secondary, rb, rg and lb (mlb) is also of need
Bowen: We received a couple of Noah Spence questions in this week's mailbag. Spence, an edge rusher at Eastern Kentucky, who began his college career at Ohio State, was one of the headliners at last week's Senior Bowl. There was a reason he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. Off the field issues at Ohio State sent Spence to the Division I-AA level. He showed last week in Mobile that he can play at an elite level and seems like a first-round lock. If a premier edge rusher is on the board at No. 18, like Spence, I can't see the Colts saying no.
Steve L. (Avon, IN)
I like it when NFL teams bust out there "throwback" uniforms. Have you heard if the Colts are going to do anything like that this 2016 season? Has there ever been talks about updating the logo on the Colts helmet or the uniforms? I'm sure a lot of people like the traditional logo/helmet, a lot of history behind it. Thanks.
Bowen: While I haven't heard of any specific talk in-house, the NFL has floated around an interesting idea before. There's been rumors about the NFL having Thursday night games be sort of "throwback" night, with both teams wearing past jerseys. I would assume any sort of throwback talk for 2016 to be on the backburner until the schedule is released in mid-to-late April.
Paul M. (Pittston, PA)
Hey Kevin, I see you view Reitz and/or Good as the starting RT. Reitz is a decent back up, but not a starter. Good may develop in a year or two. My question is what should the Colts do in the meantime
Bowen: Joe Reitz proved last year he can be a full-time starter in this league. It's hard to evaluate individual lineman, but Reitz played at a very high level until he was forced to switch to left tackle when Anthony Castonzo went down in the Atlanta game (11/21). Pro Football Focus had him as one of the top tackles at the right side through the first two and a half months of last season. Like I said on Wednesday, you just can't hand out contracts and draft picks to all your needs. There's not an endless surplus on money and picks. That's how I view right tackle. Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good give you options at right tackle, which allow you to focus on other needs that I view as more pressing.
Stoico T. (Denmark)
A first time writer here! I am a big colts fan since i saw colts vs. Saints In the Superbowl, and ofcourse petting Manning sling the Ball! Great memory!
My question is about free agent - do you see the colts go for a stud inside-linebacker as Danny Trevathan? when we played Denver he was all over the field it seemed!
Bowen: What the Colts do at inside linebacker could include several options. Jerrell Freeman, who turns 30 years old in May, is a free agent. If he isn't re-signed, the Colts are definitely going to be in the need for a starting caliber linebacker. You mention Trevathan and he's going to be one of the most coveted guys on the market. Would the Colts have the ability to chase him? Do the Colts feel backups Nate Irving and/or Sio Moore are ready for a starter role? Could the Colts find a Day One starter at inside linebacker in the draft? I think those are all questions that must be weighed before the Colts enter the free agency sweepstakes.
Beau K. (Australia)
I have two questions for you this week.
1) historically the colts have failed big time with our 1st round picks, do you have any comments on why we keep getting it so wrong? (Obviously I'm excluding #12 in this)
2) it's been mentioned previously, but do you think it's time to bite the bullet on some of the over priced defensive players we have.. I personally would be stoked to see Trent Cole and Erik Walden go.. It's was close to 50% of our top 10 highest paid in 2015 barely contributed.
Bowen: Beau, I would disagree with the Colts "failing" on first-round picks. Since the mid-1990s, the Colts have taken these guys in Round One: Marvin Harrison, Tarik Glenn, Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Anthony Castonzo and Andrew Luck. That's not a "failing" group of guys to me. Yes, like we've mentioned before, Jim Irsay has said there could be some veteran cap casualties. You see that this time of year with the search for cap space coming before the new league year on March 9.
Myra D. (Indianapolis)
With all the talk of needing a #2 RB with starting potential, is Josh Robinson considered a bust because he didn't produce when he was in before being hurt or just still an unknown? Also, I wondered if you knew anything about Vick Ballard, with another off-season would he be a serious contender again? Thanks
Bowen: I would classify Josh Robinson as an unknown. Now, FYI, Robinson is no longer on the Colts roster. I think Robinson showed flashes, but his inability to hold onto the football covered up some of the promise. I could see Robinson still being a contributor in this league. Reports out there have Vick Ballard signing a futures contract with the Saints. Great for Vick. He deserves a healthy opportunity to try and get back to the player who led the Colts in rushing in 2012.
Alex R. (Ontario)
I read every mailbag but this is the first time ive asked a question.
First I'd like to say i came to my first Colts game this year, week 9 against denver, what a game, showed what our team is capable of.
Any chance we draft Eli Apple in the first round (have there been any talks with the team) he could be a great corner beside V.Davis to replace toler.
Having two "lock down" corners will do huge things for us in the pass rush department.
Smith could eventually replace Butler in the nickle spot we would have a pretty bright future at that position.
Bowen: Alex, thanks for joining us. As I'm sure you've read in the mailbag, I'm a fan of a taking a cornerback early in the draft. Eli Apple, from Ohio State, is a name that draft pundits have in the 20-ish range of Mock Drafts. If the Colts can find a young cornerback to pair opposite Vontae Davis, that would go a long way in solidifying the secondary, while allowing new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino to get even more creative in the front seven.
Matt S. (Ridgecrest, CA)
Hey Kevin, Personally I like Allen but Fleeners productivity speaks for itself, how do you see the colts keeping the both of them especially with Lucks contact looming, thanks!
Bowen: That is the hardest thing for me to decide in debating the pending tight end free agents. I just don't see a really convincing way the Colts can keep both tight ends. Both guys should, IMO, view themselves as No. 1 tight ends. I think the market will call for that. Can the Colts really pay two tight ends No. 1-type money? Also, do both guys want to come back here, knowing they won't get complete No. 1 work? Those are things to consider. I just find it hard for the Colts to bring back both of them, when you think about the needs in other areas.
Hanney J. (England)
Kevin just wanted to say I love reading your articles it's my morning ritual!! But my question is... What are the chances of the Colts drafting a pass rusher in the draft? If so a name that has been on a everyones lips, or so I've read, is Noah Spence! What are the chances the Colts will go after him... Assuming he can stay out of trouble?
Bowen: Hanney, I love hearing that and glad to be part of your mornings. I can't see the Colts passing up the chance to acquire a young pass rusher. Such talents are just too valuable to let slip by in the draft. Edge rusher isn't a "glaring, have to get" need in my book (at least at the top of the draft), but if the right guy is there, I think you jump all over it. I look at the entire linebacker position group in general that could use the biggest additions. Throw in cornerback and interior offensive line, and that's the makeup of my most pressing needs. Drafting an impact defender would, without a doubt, be the gem of the 2016 class.
Doug B. (Reynolds, IN)
Frank Gore average 1000 ydshis last 4 years in San Francisco. This year he did not get a 100 yd game.How many quarterbacks did we go threw.Do you think the offensive line needs to be a priority before any other positions.
Bowen: Gore finished 2015 with 967 rushing yards, his first non-1,000-yard healthy campaign in 11 NFL seasons. The Colts had five different quarterbacks see game action in 2015. If you breakdown the numbers, two significant injuries played major factors in Gore falling short of 1,000. Without Andrew Luck for nine games this season, Gore averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Gore was at a 4.1-clip when Luck was healthy. Then with Anthony Castonzo missing three games, Gore averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. With Castonzo in the lineup, Gore was a 3.9-per carry rusher. The offensive line is of course still a priority this offseason, but the numbers show that Gore should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2016, if those key offensive pieces stay healthy.
Zack B. (Indianapolis)
With our 18th pick,we will probably pick Jack Conklin so who do you think we could pick 2-4 round to get depth in the Corner spot? Someone like William Jackson would be very nice! I love the way he plays and how aggressive he is on the ball!
Bowen: Haha, Zack, let's not get too carried away with locking in draft picks to certain spots. Trying to lock in a pick at the No. 18 spot of the first round at the start of February is pretty much impossible. From listening to draft prognosticators, there is a nice group of cornerbacks this year, with some underclassmen providing depth to that position. The Colts taking a cornerback early in April's Draft would not come as a surprise to me.