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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Should The Colts Sign A Pass Rusher In Free Agency?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about where Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey might go in the draft, bringing back Darius Butler and how important finding an offensive lineman should be for the Colts.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 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:Thomas G. (Tucson, AZ)

Hey Kevin how are you doing? My question is if both guys dalvin cook and leonard fournette i highly doudt it. But if they did fall to our pick I believe we should take out chances on cook. I see Leonard as more downhill runner than cook who gets to the outsides and can make plays. I honestly think cook is a better all round rb. What's so you think?

Bowen: Man, we start this week's mailbag with a pretty difficult question. At the start of the year, I would have said Fournette, no doubt about it. But the more I watched Cook, the more I started liking him at the next level. He's got some Jamal Charles in him. I think you could make cases for both guys and how they fit into respective offenses at the next level. I'd give the slight edge to Cook, but it's very small.

Nick V. (Shafter, CA)

What round do you think Mcaffery will go in? You think the colts should pick a player like him up if he falls to the 2nd or 3rd round? I feel like the Colts need a player like him, who could fill any skill position on offense! Kind've like a TY Montgomery for Andrew Luck and the colts! It would kind've be like killing 3 birds with 1 stone (RB, WR, and maybe even some QB plays) thanks for your time Kevin!

Bowen: I'm going to guess Christian McCaffrey goes in the latter stages of Round Two. I do think his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is something that is a major asset for his draft value. The Colts taking a running back in Round Two or Three makes sense to me. I probably have it more in the Round Three/Round Four range. Getting a versatile back that can play three downs has to be in the thinking with the Colts thinking ahead to life post-Frank Gore.

Juet D. (Philadelphia)

Hey Kevin, I was wondering what you think our #1 need is? Personally I believe its safety then an interior defensive lineman. I feel like its going to be a struggle for the Kansas City Chiefs to sign both Eric Berry and Dontari Poe so why not try to scoop one of them in free agency. Pass rushing needs to be addressed in the draft. Lastly, if Clayton Gathers moves to ILB, Darius Butler moves to safety and lets say Mike Adams stays, woulf our #1 priority be a corner?

P.S. If you guys need a water boy I am willing to do it full time year round, I may be 16 but you guys can just pay me under the table so we dont break labor laws.

Bowen: Well, I don't think those positions are as high as others. I still think linebacker and cornerback are significantly higher on my priority list. You have a couple of options/decisions at safety, and even along the defensive line, too. Under your "Geathers to linebacker" scenario, I do see the following play out. But the Colts will have a decision to make whether they want to bring back Mike Adams or slide T.J. Green into the starting lineup. I laughed at the water boy plea.

Jarred M. (Marion, AR)

I know this draft will be mostly for defensive players but, i think we need another possession WR and Austin Carr from North Western would be a perfect 4th or 5th round pick. What do you think?

Bowen: I'm still not sold on the need to taking a wide receiver in the draft. Do I think it's the craziest thing in the world? No. Not at all. But let's say you draft a receiver in Round Four or Round Five. You expect that guy to come in and play a role. But in a perfect world, the Colts would have T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Jacoby Brissett and Chester Rogers taking up the receiver reps. I just don't think the Colts can "waste" that high of a pick with the rise in importance for draft picks going forward. You need instant impact guys. Would a 4th or 5th round wideout be that guy? Probably not. That's why I disagree with taking a receiver so high in the draft.

Robbie H. (Luton, England)

Hi Kevin,

Have noticed a lot of people already looking at and conducting mock drafts.... I find this time of year the most pointless in the calendar as everything is hypothetical.

I was wondering however if you were GM, what would you do in relation of signing free agents? The one keeper from our current roster and one from draft?

Keep up the good work.


Bowen: Jack Doyle/Darius Butler are the two most common names that I come to in the Colts needing to retain their free agents. I just view those guys as valuable/versatile pieces for this team. A strong case can be made for Erik Walden, but I worry about him receiving a lucrative offer elsewhere. In looking at the draft, a pass rusher must be found. Cornerback, inside linebacker and running back are other positions on my mind.

Jeffrey K. (Colquitt, GA)

Hey Mr. Bowen I have some good questions for you. Do you think the colts should draft ILB Zach Cunningham in the 1st round then get a OLB or CB in the 2nd round? or in a perfect draft depending on who falls in the draft the Colts should draft Reuben Foster in the 1st Tim Williams in the 2nd and Ryan Anderson in the 3rd... Good wish list huh what you think and whats your 7 round mock draft wish list and free agents

Thanks for your time Mr. Bowen have a great day

Bowen: The linebackers you have mentioned (all from the SEC) would fit immediate needs for the Colts. Taking an inside linebacker, like Cunningham or Foster, in the middle of the first round might be a little high. Keep an eye on if the draft pundits think Cunningham/Foster are worthy of that high of a pick. You don't often see inside backers go in the top half of the first round, compared to the other positions of need for the Colts. I still lean towards an edge rusher with that first-round pick.

Yash T. (Denver)

Hello KB,

Man, you and Matt are the reason I stay afloat during the off season. Thank you so much for the mailbags/Horseshoe FAQ. Ill be here for the long run.

My question kinda: The silence in Indy is killing me, even halfway actoss the country. I want to know where this franchise headed as a huge fan. Ill be here when we go 2 and 14, ill be here when we go 14 and 2. Are the colts problems from the last 2 yrs fixable in just one off season? Meaning could make the playoffs/a run next season depending on who draft or sign this year?

Thanks KB, from a hurting fan in Broncos territory - YT

PS - Peyton Manning, please come back to Indy and lead this franchise back to greatness. We love and miss you and could use the expertise.

Bowen: Yash, happy to help and thanks for following along. Considering the Colts missed the playoffs by just one game, they should be a certain playoff contender in 2017 with some upgrades in the offseason. Those upgrades must be centered on the defensive side of the ball. If the Colts can improve their defensive talent through the draft and free agency, this team should be back in the double-digit win range as early as 2017. That has to happen. Other areas that must see progress include offensive line continuity and having more control of home field (the Colts are 8-8 in home games the last two years).

Isak H. (Mexico City)

Hi! So, I know it's too early to ask this, but with Robert Mathis retiring, Andrew Luck and Adam Vinatieri are the only remaining captains in the team. If we were just guessing, who would be the team captains for 2017? Besides, any opinion on McCaffrey or De'Angelo Henderson for the colts? Thank you!

Bowen: I'd assume someone on defense has to become a captain. If D'Qwell Jackson or Mike Adams are still here in 2017, then they would be my best guess. We talked about McCaffrey above, so let's focus on Henderson here. Henderson is a Coastal Carolina running back who is one of the most productive small school players coming out this year. At 5-8 and playing at a lower level, it will be interesting to see how the evaluation process goes for Henderson. Several small school backs have found instant success in the NFL, so Henderson should definitely be a name to watch come late April.

Thomad G. (Tucson, AZ)

Hey KevinI sent you a question a few mins ago and hit submit not thinking. I seen Baltimore's RT Ricky Wagner is set for Free agency. Do you think the Colts should target him if he hits FA. Could help out colts offensive line. We have a good line the last week's of the season but I think a little more experience on the line will be better in the long run.

Bowen: It seems like every week we get some sort of offensive line/free agency question. I still don't think spending top dollar for a free agent lineman is an absolute must for this team. You have every single lineman from 2016 under contract through 2017. It's time to let the young guys (specifically the three rookies who started together late in the season) grow as a five-man unit. Focus your free agency needs elsewhere (i.e. on defense).

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for all your work. I've got a few questions centering on the logistics of being a team sportswriter.

As an official team media member, do you have access to different materials than typical fans do? I know that coaches have specialized film tape that goes far beyond your basic fan cable package. Do you have access to that film for your own segments, do you use a different but similarly expanded set of game tape, or do you more or less have the same access that any fan could have for the right price? Similarly, does the fact that you work for the team mean your access to college tape is an extension of the team asking schools for tape on their prospects? I ask because I feel that fan access to prospect film is limited to a few highlight tapes on YouTube, which makes it tough to evaluate potential flaws.

On a similar note, I know that the turnover of topics during the week-to-week of the season and the rapid shift towards the draft can include a lot of new information to digest and process. How often do you communicate with other NFL team/local media writers to get a jump start on scouting the next game? And for draft questions, do you ever end up reading/asking for other people's thoughts as a springboard to form your own image of prospects before you have the time to truly hit "draft mode"? You can't just flip a switch and instantly become an expert in all the nuances of the draft prospects, so I just was curious how you form your "basic kit" before you fully engross into your personal tape sessions. Last quick note, I know several of your writers have column-esque regular pieces. Do you have people that tend to specialize in topics (free agency, the draft, coaching carousel, etc.) in addition to solid all-around knowledge? Or are there no "go-to" folks for more focused topics? Thanks for your time and insightful!

Bowen: When we tape things for Colts UpClose, we have access to coaching film that allows us to get various angles and a very easy database to quickly dial up specific plays. With college film, I don't have access to it. I try and watch a good amount of college football (just as a fan), but I certainly have nowhere near the knowledge of the lesser-known guys as people who really study the draft. As far looking ahead to the next team, I try to begin that on Tuesday of a normal game week. I go back and re-watch Sunday's game either late on Sunday or on Monday. I look at Monday as a recap of the previous day's game. Then on Tuesday you shift towards the next opponent. Every week, I/we talk to an opposing person who covers the next opponent. We try to be all encompassing in writing on topics. Reaching out to people who really know the intricacies of the draft and free agency is something you must do. Hope that answers what you were looking for.

Patrick B. (Evansville, IN)


I had a question about the draft. Pass rush and secondary help seem to be the biggest need on defense, to be honest it seems like the secondary would grade a lot higher on pff if the defense had any kind of pass rush. With the linebacker group being mostly comprised of aging veterans anyway, do you think the team will put more of a focus on rebuilding that group specifically? I was hoping(if players fall) to see the team trade back in the first round and acquire an extra 2nd round pick or 3rd. This could give a possible outcome of 1st rd-zach cunningham 2nd-Ryan anderson and 2nd/3rd rd tj watt.. I think the team has a good future with Antonio Morrison in the middle so maybe this would be a way to solidify the front seven and give us some pass rush to improve the secondary. Thoughts?

Bowen: We had a couple of inside linebacker inquiries in the Wednesday mailbag. I do think the entire linebacker position group could look vastly difference come September. It wouldn't totally surprise me if the Colts had three new linebacker starters out of the four spots next year. We talk a lot about the outside linebacker group, which could see a massive overhaul in 2017, throughout the mailbag, so let's key on the inside guys with this question. Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison had their moments in the final four games of the season, but the run numbers given up by the Colts cannot be ignored. With D'Qwell Jackson still under contract and coming off of suspension the Colts will have a decision to make on how they want the future to look at those two inside spots. If Alabama's Reuben Foster is there in Round One, do the Colts pull the trigger? Is Foster worthy of that high of a pick?

Gregory B. (Wilmington, DE)

Hey Kevin,

Haven't wrote in awhile but I have been reading. With all the players we have on defense, I think we should resign Darius Butler and still have him, Geathers, and Green in a sub package. With saying that, when you put Geathers down; you have Butler in safety Green and Melvin as the DE's, and have Alex Bazzier and TJ Watt with Barnett Getting the QB. What's your thoughts on that. Remember, Geathers can play the TE's.

Bowen: The more I think about free agency and the makeup of this defense next year, the more I think Butler is a major priority. Butler is just so darn reliable, has a knack for the football and this staff is extremely comfortable with him playing safety after last season. Let's not get too far ahead with crowning Alex Bazzie as a starter/day one contributor. Also, I'm a little confused by how you are putting together the rest of the defense.

Nic R. (Venice Beach, CA)

No playoffs so straight to the draft board

What are your thoughts on going for straight Alabama players in the first 3 rounds I would like to see

Round 1. The popular choice Tim Williams edge

Round 2. Ryan Anderson lb

Round 3 safety Eddie Jackson


Bowen: My first thought: Will Ryan Anderson make it to the middle of Round Two? I'm not so sure he will, based off the early mocks I've seen. This sort of haul certainly checks several important boxes for the Colts. The leg injury for Eddie Jackson is going to be one of the bigger medical questions in the draft. I will say this regarding Alabama players. Scouting them individually has to be a little different compared to other teams. Look at Williams and Anderson. How much of their production came from them taking advantage of single-team blocks, because of Alabama's dominant defensive line interior? On the flip side, you have Tennessee's Derek Barnett, who isn't benefiting from a bunch of first-round talent around him. The blocking attention is flocking to Barnett much more than Anderson and Williams had it. The same sort of evaluation has to be made with Crimson Tide running backs. They run behind a dominant offensive line. I know this is kind of a random thought, but it's something to keep in mind when you think about the hits and misses we've seen out of Alabama over their recent "dynasty."

Bryce H. (Madison, IN)

Hey Kevin, with our increased cap space could we potentially sign AJ Bouye to our roster. It would significantly help Davis and deprive Houston of a solid piece of their defense. From my stand point Trevor Bayes should be pro ready now with a year under his belt so with him and Bazzie we shouldn't have to go for a top shelf pass rusher this draft. Also will the front office restructure Castansos contract with his underwhelming play to free up more cap space. Finally we have to draft a running back. It abundantly clear that we drastically have to have a change in philosophy if we wish to retake our division from the Texans (which is pitiful on our part). Would drafting a running back get it through paganos head that Luck has to have some of this personal pressure he faces oliviated by a running game that actually sets up the deep throw? We act like Peyton used to do it all himself but he had a plethora of hall of famers around him and a running game with James. I know it seams like I'm beating a dead horse here but if we want to seize our opportunity for the rest of this and the next decade we need a complete offense to have any chance to return to glory.

Bowen: First, I would assume Houston is going to do everything they can to bring Bouye back. They had one of the best defenses in the NFL this past season without their star player (J.J. Watt). Bouye was a major reason for that top ranking. So if Bouye makes the open market, that means the demand was very high. I'm not sure if the Colts will have the funds to get into a serious bidding war. I do believe cornerback is a need for this team. But I place it just behind pass rusher as the offseason action gets closer and closer. Like pass rusher, the Colts would really benefit from a draft pick at corner, with that group getting up there in age. With Trevor Bates, he's no longer with the Colts. The Patriots signed him to their practice squad once the Colts cut Bates in the first half of the season.

Bill H. (Connecticut)

If the colts sign Melvin Ingram in free agency, do you think they still draft a pass rusher? I believe if Derek Barnett is there we should and make them the next Freeney-Mathis duo. Also what do you think about drafting Joe Mixon, I know he has his off field problem but he is a great prospect when do you think he would be drafted ?

Bowen: Yes. The Colts need to draft a pass rusher for sure. You have to get younger, while also upgrading the talent, off the edge. We had a couple of Joe Mixon questions this week. That Joe Mixon video is enough for me to take him off my board. I honestly have no idea if a team will take a chance on Mixon.

Nicoles G. (Logansport, IN)

Kevin thank you for your time!

Something different here!

When the Colts load the plane for an away game, beside the active players who all goes? We know the players and coaches but how about others. Could you give us some idea what all it takes (personnel and equipment)to move the team to a game away?

Bowen: It definitely takes a lot. Check out the "behind the scenes" photo galleries from past trips for a closer look at what all goes into a road trip. The equipment and training staffs are the biggest groups of people heading out for a road game. You also travel a radio crew, production/digital team and a public relations department each week. But the bulk of the extra stuff of course comes from the equipment and training contingent. With the team flying out on Saturday afternoon, there's no need to pack practice gear for a road game (outside of the trip to London).

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