Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: How Active Will The Colts Be In Free Agency?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about drafting an offensive tackle in Round One, Andre Johnson’s outlook in 2016 and the dilemma of Jaylon Smith.

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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.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Justice S. (Austin, TX)

First off, I've been reading your mailbag every week when I found it 3 years ago. Enjoy it every week! Thank you for your time.

Secondly I was wondering what are the chances of the colts taking either Shaq Lawson or Mackenzie Alexander 1st round if they're still on the board? Both players are fantastic play makers I watched them both when they were with Clemson and they're both lights out. They also happen to be areas where the Colts need to build and address.

Thank you! GO COLTS!

Bowen: No problem, Justice. I enjoy answering them. You are spot on with your affinity for those two Clemson defenders. Both had strong Combines and are guys that have been slotted right around where the Colts pick at No. 18. My only question with Lawson is does he fit the Colts' scheme? Can Lawson make the switch to a 3-4, standup, role?

Kevin R. (Indianapolis)

Do you know the date compensatory picks are finalized? Also, can you give a simple formula how those picks are given. I think the Colts had too many free agents last year to merit any compensation. Thank you!

Bowen: We had a couple of questions this week about compensatory picks. The Colts will find out if they get any compensatory picks at the League Meeting later this month (March 20-23). Here's a more extensive explanation of compensatory picks, but the gist is you earn picks if you lost more value in free agency than what you brought in the year prior. I don't anticipate the Colts to have a significant amount of compensatory picks in 2016, if any at all.

Trenton R. (Greenfield, IN)

Hey Kevin! I'm back yet again! I have decided that for the next 5 weeks I will go through the top 3 players at positions of need for the Colts (of course only the ones who will likely be around when we pick)! For my first week, I am going to start with your personal favorite: CB. So without further ado, let's get started!

1) Eli Apple, Ohio State

One of my personal favorites in the draft class, Apple will be a steal at CB come draft day. A somewhat overlooked player, Apple has Top 10 potential! He is also an amazing player in press coverage, something that is not easily taught! He also is amazing at playing the ball, coming up with 22 passes defensed in the past two years! Other deficiencies he may have can easily be fixed during training camp! Overall, Apple is a great player with a boatload of potential and is only going around the top 25 in most mock drafts!

2) Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

One of the top prospects to begin the year, Alexander's production stayed consistent throughout the year. Don't expect it to be the same way next year, though! A great prospect with plenty of raw potential, Mac just needs some NFL coaching and a strong work ethic to turn him into a potential DROY candidate! Another big reason for him being so high is that many teams have him going round three or four, meaning he will still likely be there for our round two selection!

3) Kendall Fuller

A talented ball-hawking CB with great hands, Fuller has totaled 8 interceptions and 34 passes defensed in 2013 and 2014 combined! A very underrated CB, Fuller has potential to be a star and intercept quite a few passes for Indy over the course of the season. Overlooked by many for has size and length, he is a starting caliber CB who will fight for and intercept his fair share of interceptions in the NFL!

Thanks for having me here again! Any comments on these players are welcomed! Also a suggestion for next weeks position would be great! Keep up the great work and GO BLUE!!!!

Bowen: Wow, Trenton. Terrific overview of three real options for the Colts in the first round. I am intrigued by Apple and think he could rise a bit from recent Mock Drafts. Could he challenge Alexander as the third cornerback to come off the board this year (likely just outside of the top 10)? A cornerback of the caliber above would only enhance the effort to improve the pass rush. I don't think any fan could be frustrated with either Apple/Alexander coming the Colts' way in Round One. Does Fuller's injury this past season force him to slide at all? I don't want to give you "homework" by any means Trenton but if you are up for it, let's look at some pass rushers next week. Again, great work on this.

Dave H. (Greensburg, IN)

If Ezekiel Elliott is on the board at 18 do the colts have to pull that trigger? Considering we have an aging Gore and that's pretty much it.

Bowen: The Elliott questions are back! If there are comparable defenders/offensive linemen on the board when the Colts pick at No. 18, I don't see them pulling the trigger on Elliott. Running back is a need at some point in the draft, but I think Round One is much too high to address that spot.

Dave J. (Angola, IN)

Interior OL is definitely a position of need. Alex Mack and Alex Boone would be two significant upgrades. Are the Colts looking at either of them?

Bowen: I could see the Colts being in the market for a free agency addition at interior OL this offseason. Mack remains under contract, so that doesn't look like an option (as of right now). Boone would be a much more affordable option and is an unrestricted free agent.

Humberto V. (Wisconsin)

What are chances of the colts signing D. Freeney back? Or how are colts working in the defense by signing Von Miller ?

Bowen: I can't see either of these things happening. Von Miller is staying in Denver. And with regards to Dwight Freeney, the Colts have to have to have to get younger on defense, especially at pass rusher.

Michael L. (Greenwood, IN)

My questions are as follow, 1) I know we have alot of problems both sides of the ball so wouldn't it be wise to stock up on draft picks this year I hear Tennessee wants to trade up there you go offer 2 rounds next four years .2)with only about 23 million in space if we cut Johnson, Cole , Werner , tolor, dquell and Freeman that would bump us at around 32-35 million to play with I hate to do this but bigger picture is we have so many problems 6 picks don't do much I'm a loyal colts fan I just wanted your opinion . thanks go blue #andrewluck

Bowen: The Colts do only have six draft picks in 2016. I could certainly see them as a candidate to move back in the draft at different points. As Ryan Grigson said at the combine, his staff has to scout their butts off with limited cap space (compared to past years).

Elisha M. (Greencastle, IN)

Do you think the Colts could move Reitz back to guard and we take Conklin or Decker in the 1st round then then in the 2nd round look at a cornerback like Kendall Fuller because he looked really solid as a shut down guy?

Bowen: I think fans would sign up for this haul in the first two rounds. I'm not sure if Kendall Fuller, a Virginia Tech product, would fall that far though. We've seen Reitz play guard before, but don't forget about Denzelle Good being an option there. Ryan Grigson mentioned last week that Good could slide inside, so that's some nice flexibility for him and Reitz. That's the thing to weigh when we talk about these draftable tackles. If they weren't interior guys in colleges, could they play inside in the pros (like Jack Mewhort)?

Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)

Hey Kevin, we fans appreciate you answering the huge influx of questions as the draft approaches.

For me, one of the biggest developments out of the combine this far has been the health of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. News dropped that his bowl game knee injury also included a stretched nerve, and he may not be available for the entire 2016 season.

GM Ryan Grigson went all out on veteran free agents last year because he thought the team was close to a Super Bowl. That proved not to be the case, and not just because of individual FA misses. The large amount of needs this offseason and regular losses to contenders like the Patriots and Steelers tells me that while Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are an exciting young core, the Colfs are still a ways away from being a legitimate SB contender.

With that being said, I think it would be in the team's best interest to play the mid-long term game and not act as if they can take a championship in the next year or two. Smith, then, seems like an incredible value if his injury scares teams away from a player who won't contribute this year. A year away from the field would also allow the team to keep Jerrell Freeman and move past D'Quell Jackson next year. Thoughts?

Bowen: Stan, 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 the past week 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.

Josh K. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hey Kevin. Couple of Andre Johnson related questions. If Andre Johnson were to retire, what does that mean for our cap space? In other words does it free up more money in the future despite the length of his contract or is there still a hit on the cap? I'm unsure of how everything with the cap works so that's why I ask. Also, do you think that Andre Johnson will end up leaving the colts (through being cut or retiring or whatever)? I have read a few places that Andre Johnson has "played his last down" with the colts but in other places he is supposedly getting ready for the next season. So what do you think will happen? Thanks Kevin.

Bowen: If Andre Johnson doesn't return to the Colts in 2016, it will free up $5 million in cap space. His agent is on the record saying Johnson wants to still play in 2016, so that should throw the retirement option out the window. That means the Colts would have to part ways with Johnson as he's currently under contract through 2017. Johnson played around 65 percent of the team's offensive snaps last year meaning his departure would leave plenty of reps on offense.

Larry M. (Ohio)

Kevin, in a recent note by Steve Andress on Colts.com he stated that Chuds' offensive scheme ideally required different OG traits than Pep's. He referred to a 1on1 he had with Chud, I believe.

Can you elaborate? Thanks.

Bowen: Larry, Ryan Grigson expanded on this even more with 1070 The Fan last week. Grigson mentioned that with Rob Chudzinski now the coordinator (and Joe Philbin as the offensive line coach) the Colts will mix in some zone/gap schemes in the run game. This will call for a different skillset in what the Colts are ideally looking for from their offensive guards.

Nate D. (Flagstaff, AZ)

Would the Colts be interested in signing Terron Beckham, OBJ's cousin? He's a physical freak and plays running back. With his little experience we could sign him to PS and give him a shot.

Also, Tyler Matekevich, Scooby Wright, and Kentrell Brothers are all interesting prospects at ILB. Do you think the Colts will pick one of them in the later rounds?

Bowen: We've had a few questions about Beckham in recent weeks. Like I said before, the Colts are going to exhaust their resources to evaluate all prospects, especially the ones with very unique backgrounds. You mention the inside linebackers from this year's class, I think that is a real need at some point. If Jerrell Freeman returns, you have a couple of starters at least 30 years old. A middle round pick there would make complete sense to me.

Matthew R. (Texas)

Kevin,

I appreciate what you do with mailbag. I try to ask questions every week. I am in school for Sports and Recreational Management, so your answers always help my understanding of what my goals for my future might hold.

My question is about Myles Jack the OLB from UCLA. I was wondering the chances of Colts looking at him as prospect for LB? I watched some highlights and saw his skills in covering and even playing man coverage on slot recievers. He also has the skill set to keep great pursuit on runningbacks in the run game.

Bowen: Keep on sending them in, Matthew. I don't think there's little doubt that Myles Jack is the top linebacker in this year's class. Jaylon Smith would have a strong case against Jack, but the health of Notre Dame linebacker doesn't allow for that comparison. I don't think I've seen one Mock Draft where Jack gets outside of the top 10. I'd be beyond shocked if Jack made it past the top 10 come April.

Andrea F. (Italy)

hi kevin thanks for responding to my first question.I've got another one...at this point it would be pretty surprising if the colts don't go o line in the first round but what's the more likley one the guard cody whitehair or the tackle jack conklin?

Bowen: I think if the Colts stay right at No. 18, Conklin would be the more likely option. Whitehair is an interesting case study. He has experience at virtually every spot on the offensive line and said at the Combine he's even been training at center. In Mock Drafts, Whitehair has been projected into the latter stages of Round One.

Rico W. (Tulsa, OK)

Hello, Can you tell me why the HC has "The Fake HC Of The Indy Colts"! On his tweeter account? Thanks

Bowen: Chuck Pagano doesn't have a Twitter account. That's a "fake" account.

James F. (Guilford, IN)

Kevin,

My question is in regard to the running back position. My question is: Will both Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga be returning to the team or have they been cut? I thought they both showed a lot of flash in some of the games I saw them in minus Robinson's fumbling. I think both of them showed a lot of promise. Your thoughts?

Bowen: Tyler Varga remains under contract. Robinson is not on the roster after ending the season on practice squad injured reserve. Varga was put on injured reserve last season after taking a crushing hit on the onside kick to seal the Colts' Week Three win over the Titans. I did think Varga showed promise in those early opportunities as a rookie. I view the Colts' backup running back position as a wide-open competition going into 2016 with the real possibility of a draft pick entering the fold there.

Dustin K. (Fort Wayne, IN)

My question is are you allowed to talk to players before free agency starts or do you have to wait till march 9th.

Bowen: March 7 is when teams can begin to contact agents of pending unrestricted free agents. So that leaves a 48-hour period for teams to talk with agents before contracts can officially be agreed to on March 9, when the new league year starts. 

Josh K. (Nova Scotia, Canada)

One of the guys at the combine that really impressed me was Sheldon Day. I think he would be a solid fit for us and people have him pegged as a 2nd rounder...I think it would be ideal to land the top LB/DE in round one and get him in round 2. What are your thoughts? Also, is it just me or are you a little weary of Noah Spence? I know you get a ton of question about us picking him at 18 but for some reason I think he has bust written all over him...call me crazy!

Cheers

Bowen: I get into the Spence questions above, so let's focus on Day here. The Warren Central product was an indispensable presence on Notre Dame's defensive line the past few years. Day won't impress you too much in a Combine setting from pure a numbers standpoint. His film speaks for itself though. I just don't see defensive line as too much of a need when you weigh it against the others for this team. Based off what you want in Round One (LB/DE), I think CB/OL is the better route in Round Two.

Matt W. (Plant City, FL)

Hi Mr. Bowen i have 2 questions if you don't mind answering them. I haven't seen many questions about offense besides the lineman and RB but what about receivers?? I mean I would love to see Duran carter fill in for andre johnson. Whats the status of Carter besides practice squad. Do you think he will be apart of colts active roster this season?? And what do you think colts will do when it comes to free agency? Although I guess that would really depend on lucks contract lol but thanks for takin the time Mr. Bowen

Bowen: Matt, Duron Carter is no longer with the Colts. Carter signed back with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League earlier this month. In free agency, I don't see the Colts being major, major spenders. I still think there's room to add a couple of guys that can come in and start. My positions to watch in free agency are interior offensive line, cornerback and possibly pass rush (that market is just so hard to predict right now).

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