Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will Trent Cole Return This Season?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about moving Clayton Geathers to linebacker, if Frank Gore will reach 1,000 yards this season and the playoffs chances for the Colts.

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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).Austin S. (Connersville, IN)

Kevin, again thank you for what you do for us Colts fans every week! Everyone is already projecting draft picks for every team and Colts really need a RB, ILB, OLB, and CB. As I said a few weeks ago, I personally would like to see the Colts draft Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook 1st round, but I do understand Colts need defense first. I think the explosiveness of these running backs would kick start our offense to the #1 scoring offense. This week I have three questions for you. My first one is, who you would personally like to see the Colts draft in the 1st round and why? My second one is, where do you see Colts drafting a running back and who could you see them draft? My last question is off the draft topic, but could you see Clayton Geathers playing linebacker instead of his normal safety position? I would really appreciate your response, thanks!

Bowen: 1. Find me an impact defender at the linebacker position or even the cornerback spot. That would check off my "needs" list for a Round One desire. This defense has to take a giant leap in playmaking. Trying to do that comes from Round One talent on that side of the ball. It's hard for me to currently state who I think that fit would be without knowing the underclassmen declaring and where the Colts will be selecting come April. 2. This is a very, very intriguing offseason question the Colts will have to explore. I see pros and cons to both. Moving Geathers from safety would then leave the question of the future at safety unanswered. Keeping Geathers at safety also leaves the future at linebacker a little uncertain. I think you could make terrific arguments for both, but what you do decide is going to have major implications to how you handle your 2017 offseason. Here is what defensive coordinator Ted Monachino had to say on Thursday to this very question: "That's an excellent question. Is he a guy that we grow into a full-time linebacker at some point down the road? I think right now you're still trying to develop Clayton in a few different things, but what happens if you put too many rocks in his pocket and then he becomes not very good at any of the things that you're asking him to do? We're trying to let him soak as much as we can there in sub as our dime linebacker, he'll get reps there on Sunday and he'll also get some reps in the deep parts of the field too. Based on what he is, we've got to try to find ways to use his skill based on the situation as often as we can. If it's a situation where they're in one back and one tight end and we don't feel like they can run some hard gap scheme plays at him then it's a great time for him to be there in the run game. If they're in a situation where they're in anything where they can line up and run some hard ball things at him, then we'll have to adjust what we do in front of him, I think would be the biggest thing that we could do to save him. I think that Clayton is a fine football player and we have to find ways to continue to keep him going and being productive because he has the ability to make a bunch of plays." Per usual, Monachino offers great detail and insight when answering a question.

Nick V. (Shafter, CA)

With Gore getting closer to retirement each year (not saying he's retiring after this season) and our backup running backs only serving great as backups, do you think Colts will look to get a young talent in this upcoming draft? Because there are some very good backs coming into this draft...or do you think we will target secondary, LBs, O-line, etc.. thank you and it's always a pleasure to read your answers!

Bowen: I do think finding a running back in this draft is a very smart decision for the Colts. You are correct in that this class should have some very, very quality backs. I'm a fan of using a pick on a running back. Frank Gore has another year on his contract so I think it would be an ideal scenario to sort of groom his future replacement behind him in 2017. The other positions you mentioned should also be addressed, especially the defensive ones, but I could definitely see a running back taken come next April.

Jacob H. (Fullerton, CA)

Kevin, Big game this Sunday, hoping we can pull off this W. That being said i have a draft day philosophy question for you. The Colts appear like they're gonna be choosing in the 9-12 range in this years draft so lets just assume we have the no. 10 pick. Now we know our major positions of need, those of course being OLB, ILB, RB, and CB. Obviously the Colts need to address the linebacking core the most, preferably with our higher picks because we absolutely need star power in our defense. However, an argument can be made that the Colts just need more overall star level talent on their roster, no matter the position. With that in mind, if Leonard Fournette somehow falls to the Colts, shouldn't they take him over a defensive player? If we look at Tennessee and Dallas, we can clearly see that adding star level talent at the RB position can make a team significantly better. And right now the Colts need to focus on just getting better in any way. Now don't misjudge me, normally i side with you and think grabbing a star level LB is the way to go in the first round. But it seems like the only 2 superstar level OLBs are going to be chosen before we get a chance to pick, so OLB is out. However a couple star level ILB could be available for us when we choose too, which is why im partially torn. Who would you take if either Leonard Fournette or Reuben Foster was available for us on draft day?

Bowen: Sounds like somebody really, really wants an elite running back. I like the debate on this one. Let me first start by saying, I don't think Fournette and Foster will appear that close to each other on a draft board. I'd guess Fournette to be much higher than Foster. The very early Mock Drafts I've seen have Fournette more as a top-five pick. I think Foster is more likely to be in the middle of Round One. When the scenario comes up for a first-round running back or an impact defender, my thinking shifts to how difficult it is to find the latter when the draft rolls around to Day Three. The running backs you mentioned (DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott) are wonderful talents. But there are other good running backs taken later in the draft, a far higher percentage at that position than high-level linebackers/cornerbacks. That's why I believe Round One draft capitol should be allocated more towards the defense, particularly given the Colts' situation, especially when the running back draft depth for 2017 has been lauded.

Zack B. (Indianapolis)Hey Kevin, I appreciate you taking the time to answer all our questions!

I know the trade dead line has passed, but what are your thoughts on the Colts attempting to get a young pass rusher like Willy Young from Chicago? That would save us a draft pick in which we could pick up a different need like a RB.

Bowen: Well, first off, like you said, the trading deadline has passed. So any execution of such a trade would have to wait until the new league year starts in March. We got a question about Willie Young earlier in the offseason around the trade deadline. Like I said then, I don't see it happening. Young is 31 years old. The Colts have to, have to, have to get younger on defense, especially from the pass rushing position. A draft pick given up for a 31-year-old (situational) pass rusher doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Harvester P. (Muncie, IN)

Hey Kevin Thank you for doing an awesome job answering question on the Colts.My question is which is one of two. I am a BIG frank Gore fan. Do you think he will rushed for 1000 yards this season? And my second with everyone coming back healthy from the Bye week, What is are chances of winning the AFC South and making the playoffs?

Bowen: 1. I do think Frank Gore will rush for 1,000 yards. He's currently on pace to eclipse that elusive mark for Colt running backs. Gore is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has 592 rushing yards through nine games. I fully expect Gore to reach the 1,000-yard mark. A healthy offense, particularly at the receiver position, should help Gore's effort to run against more advantageous fronts. 2. Right now? Not great. The Colts need help. At the same time, the Colts have to do their own part in winning somewhere along five of their last seven games. Now the Colts do have three AFC South home games to close out 2016. Their chief competitors, the Texans, have to play away from home several times---where they've struggled this season. If the Colts can go 3-1 in the next four games (three of those at home), including a Dec. 11 victory over the Texans, then the playoff chances would improve drastically for this team. There's a lot of football left to be played, but the Colts' margin for error is very slim.

Mike L. (Houston)

Any information on the return date of Trent Cole?

Bowen: This is a good question. Trent Cole is on injured reserve. Each team can remove one player from their IR list in a season. The Colts haven't used their exemption yet. Cole and Quan Bray are the two possibilities for this. Cole (back) went on IR after Week Three. He's now eligible to come back. So if Cole is healthy, it would make sense to bring him back. IR guys allowed to come back have to be on the injured reserve list for at least eight weeks, so Cole and Bray are the only options for the Colts (unless they make a run to the Super Bowl). We've seen Cole do a little rehab work on the field, so maybe he's close to being brought back.

Olin L. (Las Vegas)

Happy Thanksgiving! Do the Colts in a way resemble the Steelers?

Bowen: I'm not sure exactly what you are asking here, Olin. I see similarities in these two teams with their makeup. Both teams have struggled to find consistent results in 2016. Both have an elite quarterback with some playmaking at the receiver position. Those are the main similarities I see. I guess we will find out how similar these two teams are on Thanksgiving night, when they meet at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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