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:Brock B. (Goshen, IN)
Tyler Varga. What's happened with him? He looked like our best RB out of preseason and was placed on IR all year without having a chance to play, even when Josh Robinson fumbled every week and then finally got hurt. I've never heard any injury news besides a concussion to conclude preseason, but surely a concussion isn't going to sideline him all year. This boy can RUN THE BALL & I thought he was going to be a nasty 1-2 punch with Gore, so what's the update with the ex-BYU star? I want him in that Colts blue & white next year!
Bowen: Tyler Varga, there's a name I'm sure many fans will nod their heads at when reading this week's mailbag. I'm glad someone brought him up. He is almost a forgotten man when talking about the backfield outlook for 2016. Varga, who went to Yale (not BYU), played in three games last year before a concussion forced him to injured reserve in mid-October. Varga is under contract next season so he should certainly factor into life behind Frank Gore. While I still view running back as a draft need, Varga showed in last year's preseason to warrant some consideration in a backup role going forward.
Ron H. (Dover, DE)
This week I have an interesting question for you concerning D'Joun Smith and the future of our secondary.
Watch D. Smith play in college I couldn't help but notice that he has similarities to the Honey Badger as far as ball skills and tenacity. With that said what is the likelihood from your perspective that we go elite corner 1st round in the draft and convert D. Smith to a FS similar to what Arizona has done with T. Mathieu? This would allow us to have 3 solid defenders in the secondary while deploying rush packages.
Bowen: I'd be lying to you if I said D'Joun Smith could be a starting caliber safety in the NFL. We don't even know if he can be a starting cornerback in this league. That's what happens when injuries unfortunately sideline a guy for virtually his entire rookie season. Smith is going to be a guy to watch in 2016 to see if he can make the jump and earn some playing time opposite Vontae Davis. Comparing Smith to an All-Pro in Tyrann Mathieu is unfair. Now, I do think cornerback is a very real possibility in the first round. On Friday, Colts.com will have a piece on Mel Kiper's draft thoughts for the Colts in Round One. He mentions cornerback as a definite possibility. A lock down cornerback to pair with Davis would be music to the ears of new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.
Dave H. (Sebring, FL)
DO YOU THINK THE COLTS WILL PARTS WAYS WITH HASSELBACK,HE OLDER AND CANNOT TAKE THE HITS? I FEEL IF THE COLTS COULD RESIGN TANNEY HE WOULD BE A GREAT BACKUP!AND NEXT SEASON I FEEL THIS MUST PLAY FASTER AND PHYSICAL, MANY GAMES THIS SEASON WE WERE VERY SLOW TO REACT,AND MUST GET BETTER AND FASTER TO ATTACK TEAMS. THESE GUYS NEED A VERY HARD TRAINING CAMP THIS SUMMER??
Bowen: Dave, check back with Colts.com on Thursday for a free agent watch on Matt Hasselbeck. I don't think there's a debate on if Hasselbeck can play when he turns 41 come September. I think the bigger question is if the Colts feel it's time to turn to a younger backup (Josh Freeman, Ryan Lindley or Stephen Morris).
Bransen H. (Tipton, IN)
Hi Kevin big fan.
First question is about the draft. Do you think the colts will take a chance on Jaylon Smith LB from Notre Dame? He was ranked as the best LB in the 2016 draft, but unfortunately he tore his ACL and MCL in his final game. I remember when people questioned Todd Gurely because of his ACL and look at him now.
Second question is about Art Jones. People forget that when he was with the Ravens he was one of the best run stopping DE in the NFL. With the potential of Henry Anderson, David Perry, and the 7 sack season by Kendall Langford (career high) do you think we would use him as a substitute or a starter. We are paying him a good amount of money.
Bowen: Bransen, I get into Jaylon Smith and the draft/injury question below. So let's concentrate on the Arthur Jones question. I'm very curious to see how the Colts defensive line plays out in 2016. You have Jones coming off an August injury. You have Anderson coming off a November ACL injury. Then you have Parry and Langford, who both started every game last season. Is Parry the nose tackle of the future in Ted Monachino's system? Will Anderson be healthy enough to play starter's reps in Week One? Where will Jones be health wise come Training Camp? Those are all questions for a unit that could (and I stress could with health always a concern) be quite deep next season. You mention those four names and then you have Zach Kerr and T.Y. McGill, who both played a lot late in the year due to the Anderson and Jones' injuries. I could see a variety of roles for Jones and the other linemen in 2016. The biggest outliers will be the health of Anderson and Jones.
Tim J. (Texas)
With our defensive issues everyone seen late in the season do you think there's reason to look at maybe some zone defense? As much as I hate to say it some teams have done great example Seattle. I know the roster is built for 3-4 along with coaching staff. Just wondering.
Bowen: Tim, new defensive Ted Monachino hasn't really delved too much into what his defense will look like at the backend. He's been a defensive front guy for his entire coaching career so a heavy emphasis on the pass rush is priority No. 1. Depending on what the Colts do with their secondary personnel (Greg Toler and Dwight Lowery are free agents), will likely depend on how the Colts operate in pass coverage. Monachino is going to exhaust all his resources in dissecting what exactly he has in defensive personnel in Indianapolis and how that will translate to the entire scheme next season.
Jeff P. (Bristol, CT)
The way I see it. Colts will need 4 to 5 new starters on Defense. And 3 to 4 (right side of line and te.) new starters on offense. Personally I would love to see the team to load up on Draft picks in rounds 2 through 5. Any chance of Colts trading 2017 picks for a few more picks this draft?
Bowen: Jeff, I think your numbers are little off on new starters. Under Ryan Grigson, we've seen the Colts move up in drafts three out of four years (2012-T.Y. Hilton, 2013-Montori Hughes and 2015- David Parry). If the right guy falls, the Colts have shown they won't hesitate much in making a deal.
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey Kevin, thanks for your time. A lot of things will change between now and the draft, but a curious question for you:
There are always a few players who slip in the draft, whether due to positional priorities or injury. Often times, the smartest drafting franchises (like the Ravens, Packers, Steelers, and worst of all the Patriots) are able to snap them up in the mid-late first round. The Colts haven't been in a position to take advantage of players like CJ Mosley, Dont'a Hightower, Jarvis Jones, Malcolm Brown, Star Lotulelei, and Dominique Easley, or if they were there Grigson gets locked in on a player like Jacoby Brissett and ignores them.
With college studs in positions of need coming off major injuries, what are the odds that the Colts would target an injured star like Myles Jack or Jaylon Smith over a more immediate, but less talented player like Cody Whitehair or Reggie Ragland?
Bowen: Stan, I think this is a major storyline for the Colts' 2016 draft outlook. The draft is often about what-ifs and how a board could potentially fall for a particular player. What would the Colts do at No. 18 if Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith (more likely to fall, in my opinion, than UCLA's Myles Jack) is on the clock when the Colts are up? This is going to depend on the medical evaluations and something that probably won't be known until very close to draft time. Smith, who suffered a knee injury on New Year's Day, is a freak athlete so can he make a recovery to get on the field in some capacity as a rookie? If he can, I see no reason why the Colts wouldn't pull the trigger on getting an impact player in the front seven of their defense. Again, the reports teams get regarding the medical evaluations is going to probably be the all-knowing factor into this decision.
John K. (Syracuse, NY)
Quick question, Since our offense looked dismal this year, and Im not a fan of Chud, can we at lease try to get Tom Moore back? The guy was a guru. I know he's with Arizona, and he somehow retired then unretired. But I think we should strive to get back to out highlight years instead of running the Browns offense. Thoughts?
Bowen: Tom Moore is 77 years old. I don't envision any other future stops for the man who has coached football since 1961---more than 50 years coaching football. Let that sink in. I feel like people aren't really giving Chud credit for his previous stops. As an offensive coordinator, this is a guy who got Derek Anderson to the Pro Bowl in 2007. Then in Carolina, he helped Cam Newton and the Panthers go from the basement of NFL offenses to a top-10 unit. Let's give Chud a chance with a healthy Andrew Luck.
Ray S. (Minneapolis)
Is there any chance in this season draft if the BP scenario we drift a OL or RB in the earlier rounds with an eye out for QB? We were so exposed this year for obvious reasons do to injuries and we can't continue to built the monster going into next season with the same question on depth.
Bowen: I'd be shocked if a quarterback was taken in this draft. Depending on what they do at the backup spot (re-sign Matt Hasselbeck or go with Josh Freeman/Ryan Lindley, who are both under contract in 2016), I just don't see the need to take up a pick on a quarterback. Remember, the team likes youngster Stephen Morris, who was signed late in the year from Philadelphia. This year, more than really any other in recent history, the Colts have plenty of avenues at backup quarterback.