Colts Offseason Needs: Pre-2019 NFL Draft

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INDIANAPOLIS — With how well general manager Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts performed in last year's NFL Draft, fans have been eagerly waiting to see what they'll pull off next in the 2019 NFL Draft. Luckily, the wait is nearly over as the draft is now less than a week away, taking place next Thursday through Saturday.

We’ve focused on both free agency and the draft in previous installments of this series, but with the draft coming soon, it’s all eyes on the big show in this edition.

The Colts have made a lot of moves in free agency when you consider re-signing their own players. However, many of the areas that we’ve identified throughout the offseason as ones that could be addressed still remain the same. The Colts enter next week's draft with nine picks to fortify the roster, and as we all well know they may wind up with more than nine selections when all is said and done.

*The players chosen as potential fits early in the draft are based on realistic stock projections. With the Colts picking near the end of the first round, that takes many elite players off the board.

WIDE RECEIVER

Under contract in 2019:

  • Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain, Devin Funchess, T.Y. Hilton, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael, Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Jordan Veasy, James Wright

2019 free agents:

  • Dontrelle Inman (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Miles Boykin, A.J. Brown, Marquise Brown, Hakeem Butler, Parris Campbell, Kelvin Harmon, N'Keal Harry, Terry McLaurin, Riley Ridley, Deebo Samuel

This is a group with enormous potential but without much of a proven track record outside of T.Y. Hilton. Although expectations are high for 2018 draft picks Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain — not to mention free-agent pickup Devin Funchess — we haven't seen enough from either yet to warrant not continuing to work on the position. Not to mention, the front office will always make a move if they see an opportunity to add a playmaker.

This draft class is flush with talented receivers who possess a diversity of skill sets. In fact, it may be the deepest position group in the draft, as you can find potential starters into Day 3. This class also fits the Colts well, as they value receivers who are at least 6-0, have speed and can win contested catch situations. Picking up yards after the catch is also a big bonus, which is another box this class checks.

DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH

Under contract in 2019:

  • Denico Autry, Justin Houston, Margus Hunt, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Carroll Phillips, Hassan Ridgeway, Jabaal Sheard, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Jihad Ward, DeShawn Williams, Anthony Winbush

2019 free agents:

  • Geneo Grissom (UFA), Al Woods (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Zach Allen, Ben Banogu, L.J. Collier, Clelin Ferrell, Rashan Gary, Dre'Mont Jones, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Miller, Charles Omenihu, Jachai Polite, Jeffery Simmons, Jerry Tillery, Christian Wilkins, Chase Winovich, Oshane Ximines

The Colts have several defensive linemen who are capable of playing inside or out, so defining guys’ positions on the line isn’t necessary in this instance.

The Colts made a huge move in adding veteran pass rusher Justin Houston this offseason, but that may be more of a temporary move than a long-term one. Both age and free agent status are factors that could affect the Colts' defensive line coming up. Between Houston, Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt, all three will be at least 30 when the season begins and all three will likely be heavy contributors in 2019. Denico Autry, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Hassan Ridgeway, Grover Stewart, Houston, Hunt and Sheard will all be due to hit free agency within the next two years as well.

The next point is having depth along the defensive line. We often hear that the Colts would like to be at least eight-strong along the defensive line, meaning they want at least that many players who play at a starting level. This draft class is chocked full of defensive line talent, both at tackle and end. There are also several players who fit the Colts in the sense they were big defensive ends in college who can kick inside to three-technique tackle in certain situations.

DEFENSIVE BACK DEPTH

Under contract in 2019:

  • CB — Jalen Collins, Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston, D.J. Killings, Chris Milton, Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson
  • S — Matthias Farley, Clayton Geathers, Malik Hooker, Isaiah Johnson, Derrick Kindred, Ronald Martin, Rolan Milligan, George Odum

2019 free agents:

  • S — Mike Mitchell (UFA), Corey Moore (RFA), J.J. Wilcox (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • CB — Deandre Baker, Sean Bunting, Lonnie Johnson, Justin Layne, Julian Love, Trayvon Mullen, Byron Murphy, Amani Oruwariye, Greedy Williams, Rock Ya-Sin
  • S — Johnathan Abram, Nasir Adderley, Mike Edwards, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Amani Hooker, Jaquan Johnson, Taylor Rapp, Darnell Savage, Deionte Thompson, Juan Thornhill

The Colts actually have a good-looking group of defensive backs at the top, but like the defensive line, you can never have too much depth there. The cornerbacks stayed pretty healthy last year, but the safeties have struggled with some injuries over the last couple of years. That obviously means that the backups have to be good enough to play at a starting level.

Seeing as there are often more than four defensive backs on the field at once for the Colts, having as many talented players out there as possible is critical. It also adds competition to the practice field and should make everybody raise their game.

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