Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Who Are The Colts' Options To Start At Cornerback?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire on Robert Mathis’ production in 2016, the loss of Jerrell Freeman and who might fill the role of Coby Fleener.

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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.Submit your question here.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Marco G. (Lynwood, CA)

There was rumors that the colts are looking to go younger on defense, with that being said, Do you think Robert Mathis will have a big impact on the Colts defense moving foward this year ?

Bowen: The Colts are looking to get younger on defense but don't think for a second that means Robert Mathis would be in jeopardy. Mathis was the Colts most effective edge rusher in 2016. His team-leading seven sacks came in very limited snaps, compared to the league's top sack men. Mathis didn't start until Week Seven and admittedly said he didn't feel completely back until later in the season. That's to be expected for a guy coming off such a strenuous rehab from a torn Achilles. I look for Mathis to have a great chance at a double-digit sack season in 2016.

Jason H. (Highland, CA)

Hey Kevin!

It's great to see some California fans writing in. It makes me feel less alone all the way out here.

So with the departure of Jerrell Freeman, and with the Colts being patient in free agency due to salary cap space, how plausible would it be for the Colts to spend a bit to go out and get James Laurinaitas? Even though he's played most of his football (if not all of it) in a 4-3 scheme, it would be hard to pass up having his leadership complemented with D'Qwell in the middle and I can't see the transition for him into the Colts scheme being too difficult. With him coming off of a down year terms of production, the only thing I can see that would raise his price is multiple teams having an interest in him as well as the hope that he can return to form.

Bowen: We had a couple of people ask about former Rams' linebacker James Laurinaitis this week. Before we get into Laurinaitis, let's remember what the Colts did at inside linebacker last offseason. A signing of Nate Irving (a 2014 starter in Denver) and a trade for Sio Moore (a starter in Oakland) provides the Colts some options with Jerrell Freeman's departure. For multiple reasons, we didn't see a bunch of playing time for those two in 2015. That could change big time in 2016. Keep those names in mind when projecting a possible Colts/Laurinaitis match. When it comes to Laurinaitas, I just believe the Colts have to get younger there, to go along with the guys already on the roster with starting experience.

Carlos F. (Miami)

Kevin thank you for taking my question. I believe the player to take in the 1RD is Daren Lee from OHS and that was before we lost Freeman. After that take best available player for the rest of the draft. I have Lee as the best player to help the d-line and the secondary. I would like to hear your responce.

Bowen: I always thought inside linebacker was a potential need before Jerrell Freeman's departure. You have options there to start for Freeman (Nate Irving, Sio Moore and Josh McNary), but remember that D'Qwell Jackson is also getting up there in age. I'm not sure if Darron Lee is a 3-4 inside linebacker at the next level. The kid can play, that's obvious, but many seem to feel he would fit better in a 4-3 scheme (because of his lack of size). I'm very interested to see how teams project Lee at the next level.

Michael G. (Charlotte)

Long time die hard fan. My question is how realistic of a chance do you see the colts taking Mackenzie Alexander from Clemson with the first pick? I saw Chuck Pagano met with him extensively at his pro day. I believe he is a two fold pick for us as he would give us the cover corner opposite Davis we really need and in return man coverage on both sides really would enhance a pass rush and what you can do scheme wise. I also think we could address the OL through the other rounds as this is a lineman rich draft. Because in watching every game the O-line isn't that bad but not that good either.

Go Colts!

Bowen: Michael, if you've followed past mailbags, you know I'm a fan of Alexander. Obviously, the Colts are doing more than their due diligence in trying to get the complete package on the Clemson cornerback. My biggest worry/question with Alexander is if you think he's going to fall to No. 18. If Alexander is the third cornerback off the board come April, dropping all the way to the 18th spot might be quite the fall. I think Alexander could be a great, great fit in Indy and give the team a starting cornerback from Day One.

Caleb D. (Columbus, Ohio)

Do you think that we maybe bring Dwight Freeney back to pair with Mathis on the other side of the line?

Bowen: I don't see this happening. The Colts have to get younger off the edge. Freeney, 36, is pretty much just a situational pass rusher at this point in his career. The Colts already have three other outside linebackers at the age of 30 or older. It's time to get younger there.

Matt W. (Plant City, FL)

Hi Kevin, just a quick question beings we have small speedy receivers besides donte, what are the chances of seeing duran carter play this season? How is his progress coming along for him to be on the roster this season? I would love to see us have a big receiver for andrew luck along with small to average speedy receivers.

Bowen: Duron Carter is no longer with the Colts. He re-signed with the Montreal Alouettes, Carter's former team in the Canadian Football League, back in January.

Prabhvir L. (Avon, IN)

Hi Kevin,

I read your mailbag every week and a huge Colts fan.

  1. I was wondering what are the chances that we get Courtney Upshaw and/or Patrick Robinson and/or Stefen Wisenski?

2.Knowing that you are a waiting on Running Backs kind of guy what round and who could we possibly draft?

Bowen: We haven't heard the Colts linked to the names you mentioned in the first question, besides Courtney Upshaw. All three address positions of need though and would seem to be more than affordable options, compared to what we see in the early storm of free agency. When it comes to running back, I'm in the Round 4-5 range. I believe you can certainly get a productive guy in that area, at the running back position. I would tend to think a speedier back would be a nice complement to Frank Gore. However, the more I think about it, I'm not 100 percent sold on taking a player just with that skill set. It would be a good fit, in my opinion, but I still think just a quality back in general would bolster that group. Gore isn't going to run forever so the future has to be thought of that position. I do think Robert Turbin is a nice pickup (has durability and receiving history), but that completely doesn't rule out a draft pick on a back, too.

Jordan O. (Knoxville, TN)

Kevin, with the cols doing less this year in free agency do you expect that this would be the time grigson adress Andrew lucks contract or wait until after the draft or even on into the off season? As always thanks for answering our questions

Bowen: When Ryan Grigson spoke at the combine, he expected those talks to pick up after free agency. So these next months are when the dialogue should be more extensive between the Colts, Luck and his agent. There's no concrete time frame for a deal having to get done. Ideally, it sounds like both the Colts and Luck would hope to have something finalized though before the start of the 2016 season.

Phillip H. (Oregon)

With the team history in mind, specifically considering the success with the offense under Peyton Manning, and then with Andrew Luck, it seems that high powered offense only concluded with a single Super Bowl victory.

The overwhelmingly winning formula seems to require a decent offense, paired with a powerful dominating defense.

Of course we need to protect our franchise quarterback, but why not focus on the defense through the draft, and then free agency?

Luck is fantastic, but putting him in the position where he feels as if he must carry the team on his back each season does not seem reasonable after watching our Manning led team make so many attempts before finally winning.

A strong defense will allow us to keep Luck healthy for many seasons to come?

What is your opinion?

Bowen: Phillip, the Colts have the same thinking as you. They've said such on several occasions this offseason. When evaluating the offseason needs, the Colts like what they have on offense. Adding a couple of interior pieces to the offensive line (and finding a backup running back) should complete that puzzle. The defense is where more needs fall. Linebacker and cornerback are atop the list. Jim Irsay has mentioned a priority of getting younger and the Colts are starting to do that.

Mike J. (Kent, United Kingdom)

Hi Kevin,

I would like to know if you have any views on an issue. It's more of an across the league problem

After Newsome, adongo etc. The colts seem to have a no tolerance policy for Bad off field behaviour

My question is, in light of the manziel, hardy, rice, Peterson etc etc etc let's not mention Hernandez. Teams wont rule out signing a player with obvious flaws, past troubles and attitude issues because they are hugely talented. They turn a blind eye.

With draft time rapidly approaching, it would be interesting to know how Ryan/chuck/mr irsay and the scout team investigate players to try and avoid these problems.

Lastly good luck to coby, wish him well. And sign up #50. Thks Kevin.

Bowen: Whenever these sorts of questions/concerns come up, I always stress that each case must be treated individually. A thorough background check is a must and that begins with a team's scouting department. Then of course the Combine interviews, Pro Day visits, private workouts, top 30 visits are all vital for teams to really get a first-hand look at the prospects. I don't think the Colts are going to totally shun the idea of taking a player with some question marks. They have to be sold on their own background checks and I feel like those interviews are really, really important.

Trenton R. (Greenwood, IN)

Hey Kevin. So this one took a while. I couldn't figure out a legitimate need for the Colts that could be a first round pick! So I'm changing this one up. Instead of a first rounder, this will be running backs to compliment Gore that will go in the later rounds. Here goes nothing.

1) Keith Marshall, Georgia

Gore is a great back, don't get me wrong. He just lacks the speed to get to the edge and turn it upfield. So why not spend only a fourth or fifth round pick on possibly the fastest back in the draft. Marshall's blazing 4.31 40 was just .07 seconds off of Chris Johnson's 4.24 time in 2008. That speed would create the perfect compliment to Gore's punishing running style, wearing defenses thin by running around them and then through them.

2) Kenyan Drake, Alabama

Drake was impressive in backing up Derrick Henry at Alabama. In 2015, he averaged 5.4 YPC on 76 touches and was impressive in the passing game with 255 yards on 27 receptions. He would perfectly compliment Gore as a third down back as that was his role in the Crimson Tide offense. He has that breakaway speed Gore lacks and will fill a crucial piece in the Colts passing game!

3) Aaron Green, TCU

1 number: 7.1. That is the YPC Green averaged at TCU his Junior year. Even after his numbers dropped a bit over his Senior season, the small, shift back has decent speed and decent receiving abilities. He would be optimal as a third down back, which is just what Indy is looking for among running backs. Why not try it?

Thanks again for keeping this up for me. Also, I am out of positions as well so if you could just pick a random position, that would be great! Thanks and GO BLUE!!!

Bowen: The signing of Robert Turbin on Tuesday pushes this need down the list for me. However, I won't say "no" totally come draft time, especially if a speed guy is in the mix. In an ideal world, I think a speed guy would be the way to go in trying to complete the skill set of Frank Gore. If the Colts had an option to turn to on third down, that would allow for Gore to save some tread over the course of a 16-game season. Marshall was arguably the star of the Combine. People were salivating over the numbers he put up. You mention the complement Gore/Marshall, and that appeal is hard to ignore. Drake and Green bring similar traits. The possibility of one of these backs joining the Colts offense would give the unit a different weapon that has been absent lately. Let's look at some safeties next, a position that could be an option with Mike Adams turning 35.

Izzy O. (San Diego)

Hey Kev! I love how active you are with these mailbags.. So my questions relate to why the colts have been so silent in FA.. I understand the cap is around 20 mil, but I believe if we sign an Interior lineman (Stefen Wisniewski) and maybe a CB (Patrick Robinson) we would be fine.. I vow for Wisniewski because that opens up the 2nd or 3rd round in the draft for defensive needs. Wisniewski is a terrific pass blocker at Center and is only 27. That to me would make this FA period feel less like an L, because the Jags/Texans and Titans are stacking up. Also, I was first confused on why the colts did not re-sign Jerrell, but my mind was eased after I remembered we have quality LBs to take over (Sio Moore & Nate Irving), but the rumors are basically saying he did not want to sign with the Colts, and we offered him a deal before FA even started at the same rate he signed with the Bears. Last question, we all love Andrew but is it a necessity to re-sign him this offseason? I see the 2017 cap space is gonna be $86mil, I think we should wait on Andrew and lock him up in 2017, and focus on defense right now. Am I wrong is that even an option? Thanks for your time

Bowen: Izzy, you make some good points here. I think the difference on the Freeman deal was the incentives that the Bears have added to the offer (making it slightly enticing, based off the reports). I said it many times this offseason, Freeman was really going to take a wide range look at what the market had to offer. After not really starting his NFL career until the age of 27, this was Freeman's first true look at free agency. To be honest, I haven't really looked at the cap space for 2017, but that intimal number seems very high on me. The Colts can wait on Luck. That option is out there. However, both sides have spoken how getting something done this offseason would be ideal and both parties seem to be engaged in wanting to get such a deal complete. 

David B. (Clearwater, FL)

Kevin when the Colts travel to London will there be any type of charter package put together for fans state side to attend. Would help money wise. Flight,hotel etc. Thanks.

Bowen: David, check out this package from Bullseye Event Group. This looks pretty inclusive for what you are looking for flight/hotel/ticket/fan event wise.

Calvin P. (Philadelphia)

Why haven't the Colts tried to sign a veteran cornerback like antonio cromartie to put on the opposite side of Davis and make the secondary stronger. Do the colts plan to take one of the corners from Florida or the kid from Ohio State or draft a linebacker ?

Bowen: We had quite a few cornerback/free agency questions this week. I'm not sure a real veteran cornerback like Antonio Cromartie (turns 32 in April) is the route to go. The Colts want to continue to get younger on defense. They did that with Dwight Lowery leaving and Clayton Geathers sliding into the starting lineup. The same can be done now at cornerback. If the Colts draft a young corner to start early, that would give the Colts a couple of youthful secondary pieces to build around going forward.

Antonio C. (Washington, D.C.)

Hey man lol I love the colts. I hate to see soo many good players go. Dwight lowery, Andre Johnson, Jarrell freeman. They were big parts in the offense . But most importantly COBY FLEENER he was my favorite TE. Who are you guys gonna get to replace him? He's better than JD(Doyle). Him and Allen would've been a great duo . If you think about it Fleener was like a more dynamic Gronk. Our GM needs to find someone like him and get him.

Bowen: Right now, Jack Doyle appears to be the guy in line to take over those No. 2 reps for the Colts. I don't agree with Coby Fleener being a more dynamic Rob Gronkowski. One thing to consider going forward is how the Colts view the tight end position. There's no guarantee the team will use it as frequently as they did in years past. That would alleviate some of the need to go out and pay major, major dollar to a "second" tight end, especially when Doyle has proven to be a more than capable piece. Let's not compare Fleener and Gronk. Gronk is on another planet and his numbers show that.

Darius T. (Indiana)

Hey Kevin I wanted To say thx 4 answering all our questions but I wanted to ask what the Colts going to do with the lack of production from Greg toller and finding the missing piece for Andre Johnson it's still some solid people left in free agency

Bowen: No problem, Darius. The Colts are in need of a starting cornerback. The staff likes some of the young potential they have at that spot, but there's no guarantee (on the roster) to be opposite Vontae Davis come Week One. That's why I wouldn't be too surprised if the Colts turned to a cornerback early in the draft. With Andre Johnson, he played nearly 65 percent of the team's offensive snaps. There are reps to be had at wide receiver. Jacoby Brissett should see a bulk of Johnson's workload, but the team could use at least another body or two amongst that group.

Jerry M. (Indianapolis)

I was wondering how much cap space do we have left at this point. I know we have to allote some of that money to sign our draft picks and if I right we are roughly $16 million under the cap right now so assuming $8 million is allocated for draft and surplus it might leave us room for 1 or possibly 2 new guys if we see a guy who fills the need. Am I correct or is our cap space much smaller than that at this point?

Bowen: Per contract website Sportac, the Colts have right around $20 million in cap space (before the Robert Turbin signing). A chunk of that is likely reserved to the 2016 Colts' draft class, plus any pending deal for Andrew Luck. The Colts still have room though and I think that's where you will see some Nate Irving/Dwight Lowery type deals. Those two signed contracts with the Colts last year after the initial wave of free agency.

Pete C. (Indianapolis)

Hey there Kevin,

We have been talking about upgrading the line for two seasons but haven't been able to do so. What about kicking Mewhort into Center, Good to Right Guard, signing a player like Vasquez for Left Guard, then drafting Conklin or Decker? I know Grigson coveted Mewhort out of college because he could play all five spots. I feel that Good has the potential to be a mauler inside & Vazquez can rebound off of a sub par year. He's still young & has gas left in the tank. That would give us a line that would keep Luck from getting lacerated kidneys!

Bowen: Ryan Grigson has mentioned that Denzelle Good has guard potential. The real question comes in moving Jack Mewhort to center. Do the Colts really want Mewhort to train at different position for a third straight season? It seems like Mewhort has settled in very nicely at left guard. As of now, I just can't see Mewhort heading to center, but you never know with new line coach Joe Philbin leading that group.

Clyde B. (Winona Lake, IN)

I know Arthur Jones is a talented D-linemen but he has been had 2 season ending injurys. I wonder why they dont try trade himthey out right cut him to make cap room ?

Bowen: The Colts still feel that a healthy Arthur Jones can be an impactful player. When healthy, Jones has proven that. With Henry Anderson coming off a torn ACL, the Colts' depth along the defensive line is no slam-dunk. However, a healthy Jones and Anderson would really enhance the quality of bodies the Colts have in the defensive trenches.

Terrt G. (Greenwood, IN)

Hello Kevin. First off I would like to say I love the mailbag. Keep up the great work. This is my first time posting a question. While I agree that pass rush and DB are definite needs going forward, I do however think that if Andrew is on his back more than his feet or on the sidelines ,every thing else is irrelevant. Having said that. I would take Ryan Kelly first round regardless of value. He is the consensus best center in the draft .Then we could either move Harrison to RG or try to get maybe go after Joshua Garnett (G. Stanford) if he makes it to us in the second. The days of playing Russian roulette with our franchise QB has to stop. Your thoughts? Again excellent work with the mailbag and GO COLTS!!!!

Bowen: We've heard a few of these scenarios in the recent weeks. I certainly see where fans are coming from with this sentiment. Such a combination (Kelly/Garnett) would really solidify the interior, and likely the line in general, for years to come. But you just can't totally ignore the defensive side of the ball. If a game-changing defender is available, you cannot turn your head at taking such a player.

Tyler L. (Aurora, IL)

Kevin, thank you for clearing up nagging questions on the minds of fans near and far! Currently, the colts only have two RBs on the active roster, do you see the colts bringing back Josh Robinson to the practice squad to sure up his fumbling issues? From what I saw outside of that is that he is a punishing RB just like Frank Gore and could learn to become a mirror of frank in the future. Is this a possibility or does he just not fit the scheme that the colts want to run? GO COLTS!!!!

Bowen: Right now, the Colts have four running backs on the roster (Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, Tyler Varga and Trey Williams). Josh Robinson is no longer on the roster. He finished the season on injured reserve practice squad and is now a free agent. There really wasn't much of a reason given for Robinson's departure after he quickly fell out of the rotation.

Pedro K. (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

Hi, Kevin! I'm a huge Colts fan, and I've read every mailbag for the last couple of years. The need for production/youth at OLB is obvious for us. Given the limited options to adress this in free agency and the draft, would there be a chance of bringing Daniel Adongo back? I know he's got barely any experience but his athleticism gives him a lot of potential, and I remember he received very high praise from the coaching staff when he was on the roster. What do you think, could we bring him back?

Bowen: I don't foresee this happening. Adongo has been on the free market for some time now so I think if there was a mutual interest to bring him back, it would have already been done. You are correct in that the Colts could definitely use a younger pass rusher to groom behind the vets. The draft is undoubtedly where the Colts are going to have to turn to find such a piece of clay.

Howard M. (Kendallville, IN)

Going forward into the draft do you feel that the Colts will choose need over talent, or talent over need. Last years first round they went for best available talent. Everyone is saying that they won't pick a running back in the first round this year. I believe that if the talent is there they will pick a running back. I also think that if you have exceptional talent available at your pick, you need to pick the exceptional player. If you don't that player might haunt you for years to come. Thanks! Keep up your great work!!!

Bowen: In some form or fashion this sort of question comes up around spring every year. You aren't going to hear really any personnel person around the NFL say that they are going to draft solely based off need. "The draft dictates to you" is a popular term when referring to draft time. The Colts are going to take the best player available, while also keeping in mind where their needs correlate with the board. For example, if quarterback Carson Wentz is still there at No. 18 and he's the best player on the board, the Colts aren't going to take him. This is just how the draft operates. Ideally, the Colts would have several similar options come pick No. 18, therefore allowing them to weigh their needs before making the pick.

Bob V. (Beford, TX)

Why haven't the Colts looked at Alfred Morris as a running back?

Bowen: Entertaining the thought of bringing in Morris, the former Redskins' running back, flashes a caution sign to me for two reasons. First is the money. I'm sure Morris believes he's still a starting running back in this league and will want such compensation. The Colts can't offer such a deal. Also, the age of Morris worries me a little. I'm all for bringing in another running back. But I'd like to see a back a little younger than Morris, who will turn 29 this season. Plus, the signing of Robert Turbin all but shuts the door on such a move.

Mark C. (Abingdon, VA))

I was wondering about tyler vargo from yale if the colts were high on him being our back up running back ,i really liked his running style and i think we should go outside lb or cb in the first round of the draft and get inside oline in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Bowen: I think the Colts do see some potential in Tyler Varga. It was limited action, but Varga showed some flashes before a concussion in Week Three ended his rookie season. I'm anxious to see what Varga can do next year.

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