Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will The Colts Draft An Alabama Defender In 2016?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about finding the eventual replacement for Robert Mathis, another running back in the fold and drafting a quarterback this year.

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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).

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

Most people think of the offseason as a get-better-quick method of improving your team. However, I find this method often expensive for good players, and like you have mentioned in previous mailbags, only adds up to 1 playoff appearance when spending the big money for players.

This is why the Colts need to look long-term, and as much as Grigson wants to make the Colts a playoff team ASAP, looking at impact players in the coming years is the smart route. With this mindset, how will the Colts look to improve in the coming years?

Bowen: Everything I've heard from the Colts this offseason, they are frequently mentioning the need to look long-term. The big step in achieving that is going to come from future drafts, particularly building off last year's class. The Colts could have around a handful of 2015 draft picks playing starting roles this season. If the Colts can string together those types of classes in the coming years, that's how you have sustained success in this league, especially when your quarterback is about to sign his second contract.

Wesley M. (Columbus, IN)

I know we just signed several running backs in free agency, but what do you think of the idea to trade a fourth round pick to Atlanta for Tevin Coleman? Even though he was a 3rd rounder, he has become superfluous to the falcons with the emergence of Freeman and showed some struggles early on with his nagging toe injury (which should be healed up by now) which could justify a fourth round trade. We know he has great speed, and he showed great ability in college at pulling off the first hard cut that is required for our new zone running scheme. I think he would be a better long term solution than Turbin for the position after Gore, especially being younger. Your thoughts?

Bowen: We had a similar question to this a few weeks back. First, I don't see any reason why the Falcons would take a fourth-round pick for Coleman when they took him just one round earlier last season. You need two backs in this league and the Falcons obviously are high on the former IU product. Now, in terms of the Colts, this sort of thinking is why you can't rule out a running back come draft time. Frank Gore turns 33 next month. Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman aren't on long-term deals. That's why a running back (i.e. a Coleman sort of addition) remains a possibility in the draft. There's no attrition like what can happen at running back, so that door is open when April 28 arrives.

Michael E. (Bartlett, TN)

With what we have on the Offense Line and maybe in the draft do you think the Colts will have enough talent on the line to protect Andrew?

Bowen: Michael, check this piece out posted Friday on Colts.com. It goes into some detail on the offensive line group in 2016. In short, I do think if the Colts can find a couple of more bodies in the draft, they have the pieces in place for new coach Joe Philbin to work with in protecting Andrew Luck.

Carter N. (Indiana)

My question is about who the Colts should draft. Should the Colts draft Leonard Floyd where he can learn from Robert Mathis, who used to be a dominant pass rusher, or should we draft Reggie Ragland. Reggie will have a bigger immediate impact, but Leonard Floyd could learn a lot from Robert Mathis and possibly become a better linebacker. Leonard Floyd could also eventually replace Robert Mathis or Trent Cole. Should the Colts draft Reggie Ragland or Leonard Floyd?

Bowen: Carter, you make some strong points here. I will say that Mathis is still a very effective pass rusher. He showed that in limited reps last season. If it came down to an edge rusher/inside backer at the same pick, and the draft board was even, I'd probably lean more towards the pass rush need. It's so hard to find impact guys there. At inside linebacker, the Colts still have past starters in Sio Moore and Nate Irving. There's not the same "young-ish" options off the edge. That's why I would lean edge > inside, if the prospects were ranked similar.

Nathan D. (Flagstaff, AZ)

Hey Mr. Bowen,

I've sent in a couple questions and I am very thankful for your responses. I have a couple questions for you this week.

  1. Keanu Neal looks to be the best safety in this draft (if you count Jalen Ramsey as a CB). Is there any chance the Colts give him a look in the second round? He's a hard hitter and he's coming from one of the best secondary's in the CFB nation. Paired up with Geathers, the back end of the secondary would be pretty scary.
  1. Do you think Grigson will take a chance on Noah Spence or Jaylon Smith in the first round? With their respective red flags, the talent is undeniable in a category that the Colts absolutely need. Personally, I wouldn't mind taking a prospect like Spence in the first and a prospect like Fackrell in the third or fourth round.

Bowen: How the Colts view the safety position in the draft is something to watch. On paper, the need isn't really vital in 2016. Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers are your starters. But Adams is 35 years old, so you can't rule out looking at the right sort of safety if the board calls for it. I do think safety is something to consider when there's no real young prospect to groom behind Adams right now. If the background checks (off the field for Noah Spence, medical for Jaylon Smith) pass, I can't imagine the Colts would just automatically say no to a pair of elite prospects at a major need position. Now, there's quite a few checks that need to be done on these guys. But, again, if everything comes back positively, the Colts will have to seriously entertain selecting a ready-now linebacker.

Ignatius H. (Plains, GA)

Hi Kevin! I'd love to know if the colts have colsed the door on drafting a Day 3 QB. I mean, I don't know if Scott Tolzien is exactly the backup that fits the team. He is not a player who has been in there a lot, and I think it could be nice to draft someome, develop that player and maybe trade him. Thoughts?

Bowen: I don't think the Colts will be drafting a quarterback come late April. The needs elsewhere are much higher on the list. Plus, don't forget about Stephen Morris on the roster. Morris has been in the NFL for two seasons now and the Colts could view him as sort of a draft pick. If the Colts had more than six draft picks, I'd say there would be a better chance. But with just six, I can't see it.

Justin T. (Anna, IL)

Hello, I have been reading the mailbag almost every new post since the beginning of last season. It's always nice to see everyone's questions and concerns. As far as questions go, I have a few. First off: last season, when needed to step up, and step in for injuries and depth, Griff Whalen came up huge on several occasions and seemed to gel with his college teammate and our beloved starting QB Andrew Luck. He worked harder than most undersized and underrated wideouts just to hang onto a roster spot, and finally got to prove why he was worth it. So why did we let him go to the Dolphins? I would have never even heard about it had it not been for my cousin being a phins fan, why so under the radar? Also, I know even in the beginning of the offseason we knew the Colts would not be big spenders in free agency with Lucks mega deal approaching, but you look at the players we've picked up compared to the holes we have to fill. 6 draft picks, or even if we squeeze 2 more in with trades, is not going to fill in every need. So do you think we're going to take several undrafted free agents again this next year? Or would you think we are waiting to finalize the deal with Luck, before we can see where we are in cap before sifting out the better deals left over in free agency? I'm just hoping to see playoff contention out of the shoe, and praying that this year was just a hiccup that the Texans didn't take enough advantage of.

Bowen: In terms of Griff Whalen, his contract was up. Whalen did come up big several times with the Colts, but I wouldn't characterize his departure as anything the team can't replace. Some costly fumbles (four in 40 touches last year) did not help Whalen's cause. He's now reunited with former assistant Clyde Christensen in Miami. I do think the Colts are going to be very active within the undrafted free agent market. Right now, the Colts have 63 players on their roster. That means 27 "open" spots with rosters rising to 90 in the offseason. The Colts will fill that number with six draft picks, then a bevy of undrafted free agents. Of course, the Colts can still add other free agents, but a bulk of the remaining roster spots will be filled from the UDFA market, a group the Colts have really excelled in finding quality options.

Jacob H. (California)

Hey Kevin,

So I heard that the NFL has made the color rush mandatory for all teams that play on Thursday night football. I'm fairly certain we'll continue our streak of Thursday night football games, that being said, what will our uniforms look like? All blue? I for one am excited to see the Colts use an alternate uniform for once. And on a side-note, who does GM Kevin choose to aquire in the first round (if they're available) Noah Spence or Leonard Floyd? Do you think the Colts need a chaser or more of a thumper type of OLB?

Thanks

Bowen: Jacob, that's a great question. In case people haven't seen it, it sounds like the NFL will have teams wear their "color rush" jerseys on Thursday night games this season (we saw this last year with the Jaguars/Titans and the Rams/Bucs). I'm not sure what the Colts jerseys will look like, although I'd assume blue. I'm sure it depends, too, on who they will play and home vs. away. We should find out what the Thursday night slate looks like for the Colts in a couple of weeks, when the NFL schedule is released.

T.J. S. (Hawaii)

what are the chances the colts being smart and drafting a good defensive player? reggie rangland? a'shawn robinson? jarran reed?

Bowen: Sounds like the Alabama Crimson Tide have a fan out in the islands of Hawaii. I would think the Colts are going to be like nearly every NFL team in evaluating these Alabama defensive prospects thoroughly. Defensive line isn't an immense need in 2016, so I think Ragland is the most likely option of this trio. With Jerrell Freeman moving on in free agency, the Colts have a definite open starting spot next to D'Qwell Jackson. Then you factor in the age of Jackson (will turn 33 in 2015) and you see why the Colts would have interest in drafting a young inside linebacker.

Nancy. T (Indiana)

How is Andrew Luck doing? I keep thinking there will be a update on the website but have not seen. I happen to be a retired md and know his injuries were no small matter. Thanks

Bowen: Nancy, check out these pieces we've posted on Andrew Luck about where his health stands. He's healthy and keeping him that way is the obvious goal in 2016.

Timothy K. (Valdosta, GA)

With Joe Philbin now coaching the offensive line and implementing a zone blocking scheme, are the Colts changing how they're evaluating lineman in the draft? Are certain lineman now more valuable than others because of the scheme, like Nick Martin vs Ryan Kelly? Thanks.

Bowen: Chuck Pagano touched on this topic at the League Meetings last month. Yes, there will be some zone schemes the Colts use, but they also will still implement gap schemes, too. The Colts have changed how they are evaluating offensive linemen, particularly the guard position. Here's a little more information on that topic. Also, you've seen Hugh Thornton lose almost 30 pounds this offseason with the Colts bringing in a new offensive line coach.

Marc C. (Columbus, OH)

In reference to the draft, I always feel like the first and second rounds should be reserved for individual difference makers. I don't think those picks are best used on O-linemen as it's really the entire line working together that really determines the health of the quarterback. I also feel most of Luck's issues last year were due more to his style of play (hard, heavy hits outside the pocket and holding the ball), than the bad play of the O-line. Really difficult to be effective when the quarterback is holding the ball almost 3 and 4 seconds most downs; especially with the size and strength of the modern athlete in the trenches. I'd much rather see an OLB or, for this year, a RB coming in at one of those picks. You gotta tell me having a Zeke Elliot type in white and blue makes you salivate just a little lol

Bowen: Marc, I think we have similar thinking in how to view the early rounds of the draft. Finding difference makers on defense is an ideal route in my opinion, while also keeping an eye out on how the interior offensive linemen are coming off the board. Haha, I think Ezekiel Elliott is a tremendous talent. Frankly, I don't know if Elliott is going to be there at No. 18. If an injured Todd Gurley went in the top-10 last year, you have to think Elliott won't be around in the late teens.

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey, Kevin.

As seen earlier in the offseason, the Colts acquired some running backs with Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, and even Trey Williams. As you have said, running backs are still a possibility in the draft.

Here are the RB's I'd like to see on the Colts:

  1. DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech
  1. C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
  1. Paul Perkins, UCLA

What are your thoughts of one of these RB's joining Indy?

Bowen: You've got some speed there in your trio. Washington and Prosise were big time receiving threats for their respective schools. Prosise played receiver at Notre Dame, before becoming a quality running back in his final season in South Bend. Perkins is probably the most complete back of the trio you have marked. When I think of an immediate 2016 fit at running back, to me more of a receiving threat is something that's attractive. Now, the Colts should probably be looking more towards the future at running back, if they do take one later this month. That would be Perkins. But, even Jim Irsay mentioned at the League Meetings that a scat-type back is a route the staff has talked about acquiring to complement what they have in Frank Gore.

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