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:Jack M. (Indianapolis)
This is a broader question about the colts overall game plan for the draft. We have obvious needs on both sides of the ball. The O-line could use all the help it can get, and our D is in need of a second CB (to play across from Davis), as well as both ilb & olb. I am sure management would like to fill in some of these missing pieces through free agency, so hopefully there will not be as many holes to fill come the draft.
Which of these needs do you see us addressing in the early rounds of the draft? How do they go about deciding where to focus their attention? Will management just look at our needs and take the best available player?
Bowen: Around the NFL, the "best player available" approach is king when it comes to the draft. Yes, teams obviously take their needs into consideration and it's not like the Colts would take a quarterback at No. 18, if he was the best player still on their board. This offseason, we've heard a much more direct position approach when Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have been asked about offseason needs. Offensive line (specifically the interior) and pass rush (outside linebacker and cornerback) has to be the focus. With such a premium on those defensive positions, and the depth not there as much as offensive line, that's why I target the defense earlier come April.
Trenton R. (Greenwood, IN)
Hey Kevin. This week, for my top three positional prospects, I want to address the most popular position among fans: the interior line. Reminder, these players are not top tier but only those who will be available for the Colts come draft night. So here we go!
1) Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin is a big man with a great first step and a fantastic core. At 6'6" and 308 man, he is a large man, even by NFL standards. His only problem he had at tackle in a Spartan uniform was setting the edge. But wait... we are needing interior linemen who don't need to set the edge. So what better than moving Conklin inside? He has great lateral quickness and is fantastic at controlling his opponent. If he is still on the board at 18, the Colts front office definitely needs to consider him.
2) Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Yes, I know I put him in front of Taylor Decker on this list. Yes, I know Decker is the better overall player. But Kelly just oozes potential. He has been compared to former Colts Center Jeff Saturday many times this offseason. Looking at his tape, these comparisons are spot on! Over the past season, he didn't give up a single sack AND paved the way for Heisman Winner Derrick Henry. This is a man who will make the Pro Bowl almost every year of his career!
3) Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Like Conklin, Decker is a large man with a great core. He is a great blocker both in the running and passing game. He has the build of the next great OG in the NFL. After a few years on the interior, he could move outside as well. The only downside is that he doesn't have the highest ceiling. The upside to that is his floor is much higher than other players. Overall, Decker is a very reliable and consistent presence in the trenches.
Thanks again for reading! Just give me another position for next week and I will come back with another list for you! See you in the Weekend Edition!
Bowen: Per usual, Trenton with a very nice breakdown of a need position for the Colts. The Colts' brass has said they like what they have on the edges of their offensiveline. That will impact how the team then views Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker. Can those guys follow the path of a Jack Mewhort and move inside to guard? You don't see many guards the size of a Decker (6-7). The Conklin-debate will come with the following: is he really going to last until pick No. 18? We tend to see tackles go even higher than where they are slotted in Mock Drafts. Kelly would address a direct need. The fact that Kelly started for three years at Alabama is impressive, especially when you consider the success they had with three different starting quarterbacks during that time period. The question with Kelly is going to come down to whether or not teams view him as a definite first-round pick. I'm running out of position groups for you Trenton, so whatever sparks your interesting, go right ahead.
Kyle K. (Indianapolis)
Hi this is my first time submitting a couple questions. First is do you think the colts should try to get Josh Gordon now that Browns announced they would take a 2nd round pick for him? Also for the draft do you think it would make sense to draft a playmaker on offense or defense such as Darron Lee or Elliot? Or a big receiver like Josh Doctson? I think this free agency we just need to sign nothing but offensive line or defense playmakers.
Bowen: I don't think the Colts need to send such a luxury like a second-round pick for a wide receiver. Don't get me wrong, I'm always a fan of a dynamic playmaker. But the Colts need to address those resources on the defense and the interior of the offensive line. Darron Lee is a very, very intriguing prospect to me. A little undersized for a linebacker, Lee brings some rare speed to that position group. You know some teams are salivating over using Lee all over the field, especially on third down.
Don W. (Indianapolis)
Love you work Kevin with the mailbag!!
Now with it looking apparent that Peyton Manning is retiring, what are the chances Jim Irsay hires Peyton in our front office say as Asst. GM.? Even though he might be walking away from playing, we all know he will not walk away from football itself. The guy would be such an asset to the organization and many people feel that with just a little grooming he would be a very good GM. Much like John Elway in Denver! What do you think the chances of this happening?
Bowen: As you would expect, we received plenty of "Manning next job" questions. I'm just as curious to everyone else to see what Manning does decide for his next endeavor. Does he immediately want to jump back into football? Does he want to take some time off and spend it with his children, before deciding on his future in life off the gridiron? I'm honestly not sure what Jim Irsay would think about bringing Peyton Manning back in such a role. Remember, before John Elway became Denver's GM with the Broncos, he had owned the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush from 2003-08. Elway stopped playing in 1998, but didn't take his current job with the Broncos until 2011. Will Manning take such a period of time?
Chuck M. (Indianapolis)
Are we going to be able to get some high quality named free agents this year that's going to make a big impact.
Bowen: The Colts aren't going to have the same shopping spree they've had in past offseasons. They just don't have the funds to have such a free agency. I do still expect them to be able to acquire a couple of starting caliber players in the coming days/weeks.
Dan S. (Baltimore)
First time, long time...appreciate your insights.
Interior o-line, pass-rush and corner are all obvious needs, but the the potential impact player that has my attention and may be sitting there for us at 18, is Andrew Billings from Baylor. He flashed rareathleticism and power and is hust turning 21 years old. I believe a DT like Billings could anchor our Dline for a decade.
If you're sitting there at 18 with Taylor Decker, Leonard Floyd, Mackenzie Alexander and Andrew Billings all still on the board, how do you prioritze the pick?
Bowen: A great hypothetical from Dan. I don't characterize defensive line as a major, major need this offseason (if Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson can return to health). However, that doesn't mean a pick of Billings wouldn't be impactful. If you're going with those four guys at 18, I would list things as Alexander, Decker, Floyd and then Billings. But those four could be very interchangeable. I think you could make cases for each of them to flip flop.
Nic R. (Venice Beach, CA)
Personally I would like to see the colts take all Alabama players with the first 3 rounds of the draft. Round 1. Ragland or reed. Round 2. Ryan kelly and round 3 cb Cyrus jones. Thoughts on this ?
Bowen: In terms of positions of need, this sort of haul would check off some offseason questions for the Colts. You are going linebacker/defensive line, center, cornerback with those three picks. I don't think any of them are that far fetched in terms of where I've seen those guys in Mock Drafts.
Chris I. (Indianapolis)
DUDE! Do you see David Parry playing a big role this year after the injury last year? I thought him and anderson complimented each other very well last year and we lost a lot of run stuffing power without him.
Bowen: David Parry played a very, very big role last year. For being a fifth-round pick, it's pretty remarkable he came in and started 16 games as a rookie. I've said this a few times lately, but I'm interested to see what the Colts want from the nose tackle position this year. Does new coordinator Ted Monachino want a wider body versus the 310-pound Parry? No matter what the Colts desire in a 3-4 nose, Parry is going to play (and probably a lot) in his second NFL season.
Elisha M. (Greencastle, IN)
With the combine behind us who do you think is better fit for us at corner Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple, Kendall Fuller or William Jackson III? Then at olb Shaq Lawson or Noah Spence?
Bowen: If we are talking first round, Alexander/Apple/Fuller are the three most popular names that I see around pick No. 18. Alexander is a guy that looks to have some Vontae Davis in his game. The Colts gravitate towards corners that can thrive alone, with a physical nature to disrupt timing. Alexander appears to be in that mold. I think Apple and Fuller have strengths, too, that make them attractive in the middle of Round One. When you are breaking down Shaq Lawson/Noah Spence, there's a clear difference in what scouts are seeking scheme wise. Spence is built more in a natural "3-4 outside linebacker role" where as Lawson is a "4-3 defensive end." Can Lawson adapt to being a stand-up guy, like he would be in Indy?
James S. (Sydney, Australia)
Love your work and am a big fan!!
Was wondering your thoughts on the Dwayne Allen resigning in relation to the value of the contract, and his role as a pass catching tightend in Chud's scheme?
Bowen: I thought the always-candid Dwayne Allen laid it out pretty accurately in describing his value going forward. When healthy, Allen gives the Colts such a flexible option at tight end from a run/pass game standpoint. Allen believes some new additions on the Colts' strength and conditioning will keep players from having the nagging injuries that have hindered them in past years. Allen has been one of these players. If Allen can stay healthy, and play to the level of 2012/2014, the Colts could be getting a steal. Chud's four-year history as an NFL offensive coordinator includes a bevy of production from the tight end position. In two years with Cleveland, Kellen Winslow Jr. ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in receptions---catching a total of 125 balls, despite missing six gams. Then in Carolina, Greg Olsen finished third and second on the team in catches---with 114 receptions in two seasons. Chud's history shows the ball is coming Allen's way, much more in 2016.
Josh S. (Ohio)
Hi Kevin. You answered one of my questions before and I'm hoping that this one will interest you as well. I recently saw a 4 round mock draft where the Colts were picking Devonte Booker in round 3. I think this would be a really good pick for us. I understand it's unrealistic to pick a RB in round one as much as I'd like to see Elliot in blue and white but what about a RB in round 3? Do you think that's the right time or still too early?
Also, I'd really like to see the Colts go after Darron Lee in round 1 if Freeman walks. I feel OL should be addressed in free agency. Thoughts?
Bowen: I'm really curious to see how the backup running back position is addressed in the offseason. Where to draft one has to be one of the most widely debated topics every year around draft time? Last year, we saw a first-rounder be the leading rookie rusher (Todd Gurley) and then an undrafted free agent (Thomas Rawls) finish second on that list. You can find running backs at all different points come April. I'm of the belief that a middle round pick would be just fine for the Colts looking for a consistent backup behind Frank Gore.
Zachary S. (Indiana)
HI Kevin zach here. So my thought is that the colts should go after a guy like Damon harrison. As we have seen the past few years in the superbowels defense wins championships. And if art Jones can stay healthy and contribute like we know he can then add in Harrison I can see the colts having a premiere defense what's your thoughts?
Bowen: We've had a couple of questions about Damon Harrison in the offseason mailbags. Harrison is going to be a major name on the free agency market, in my opinion. While the money factor is going to be the toughest element, the Colts' scheme must be weighed. How do the Colts view their 3-4 nose tackle position? What body type do they desire in the middle of their defensive line? Those are questions to consider when pondering how the Colts asses adding a nose tackle this offseason.
Jordan O. (Knoxville, TN)
Mr. Bowen what are the chances of the colts considering Arian Foster in free agency? I know he stays banged up and isn't a young rb anymore but if he were given a back up role behind Frank Gore that would lesson his change of getting injured while keeping his legs fresh. Would this be smart given our limited cap space due to opening the vault for Andrew Luck?
Bowen: I don't think this is a great idea. You said it in your last question. Due to the "limited cap space" is where you are going to hear me counter any signing of a big-name veteran cut. The Colts have to start getting younger at running back with Frank Gore reaching age 33. I can't see Foster in the plans.
Brandon M. (Gilbert, AZ)
In order to bounce back next season, which is more important for the Colts to do well in - free agency or the draft?
I've been hearing the Grigson will be conservative in free agency. There are a good amount of offensive and defensive lineman out there. I understand the upcoming Luck cap implications, but do we think that a good draft alone will fix the 2015 issues? It doesn't seem likely.
Bowen: I wouldn't say that a draft alone is going to completely solve things for the Colts. It's not like they aren't going to make any moves in free agency. There is still money available to make some noise in the coming days. Of course, it will be much quieter compared to past years. I do think the draft is vastly important to the Colts' future. Ryan Grigson knows how building through the draft, especially with Andrew Luck's cap hit rising, is of an even greater importance now. The Colts found several contributors in last year's draft class. If they can do that again in 2016, it would go a long way in helping to keep this structure on firm ground.
David P. (Indiana)
There's has been a lot of questions surrounding the offensive line and our shaky defense this offseason,but what about our potential need at TE with both of our starters set to hit the market. Is there any chance we resign either one or both and it not who do you have a feelings that we may go out and get as replacements, either by draft or free agency?
Bowen: Ryan Grigson said at this year's Combine that it would be "tough" for the team to bring back both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Earlier this week, we saw a report where veteran tight end Scott Chandler was visiting the Colts. Chandler is more in the mold of a receiver type, a taller target who most recently played for the Patriots. With Allen now back, I think it's much more likely the Colts bring in another TE at some point this offseason and then re-sign restricted free agent Jack Doyle.
Roger K. (Indianapolis)
I truly think Gary Bracket has a great idea. We should honor "The Man" Peyton Manning and put a statue right in front of Lucas Oil Stadium. He's done so much for this city it would be fitting. What do you think about it? Also, how could the fans get this to happen?
Thank you for your time. Go Colts!
Bowen: In case fans missed it, Gray Brackett did say earlier this week that a statue would be more than appropriate for honoring Peyton Manning. I think something of that nature would be a great idea. I don't think there's much fans can do. The Colts know what Manning has meant to the franchise and the city. They will honor him correctly. Reports are out there that the Colts are planning on something Manning, so hopefully something comes official on that soon.
Isak H. (Mexico City)
Hi. Recently, I bought a Fleener jersey. It's practically new, but since he's leaving, do you know where I can get another one that isn't Luck? Thanks.
Bowen: Isak, head to the Colts Pro Shop for all your jersey needs.
Adam H. (Indianapolis)
From a business standpoint wouldn't it make more sense to trade Jonathan Newsome, instead of releasing him? You mentioned in a mailbag the Colts could trade back in the first round and draft Ryan Kelly. The Colts could also trade up in the 2nd and potentially grab Kelly. I think the Colts could have used their first round pick as planned, then trade into the top 5 of the 2nd round and draft Kelly (if still available). Trade a team our 2nd rounder and Newsome for their 2nd round pick, assuming scheme fit. To me it seems like a heck of a trade offer. A young pass rusher with potential, and only having to move back a dozen picks. I like that the Colts don't put up with DUIs and drug use, etc. but why not try to gain something out of the situation? Thoughts?
Bowen: Adam, I see what you're getting at here. On paper, it does seem like a win for both parties. We really don't see any teams trade players that have been recently rested, instead of cutting/released them. I'm not really sure why this is the case. If you're the team acquiring Newsome (or the player in trouble) though, you have to be very confident in what you're getting. That's why teams shy away from such activity. They would rather see the player go on the open market, then bring him in for a visit/evaluation.
Myra D. (Indiana)
Why is it that it seems like in college all the trench players are wearing those knee braces/protectors but they seldom do when they go to the NFL? It seems like we'd have less knee injuries and it might give them more strength? I realize it may slow them down a bit but it seems like it wouldn't be too bad.
Bowen: I will start by saying that this question is well above my pay grade. There have been studies though that indicate knee braces don't make a massive difference when it comes to preventing injuries in that area. You are correct in that we do see many more collegiate players wearing knee braces than those on the professional level.