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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Why Did The Colts Pick Malik Hooker Over Reuben Foster?

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:

Michael N. (Scranton, PA)

Just wanted to start by saying I think Chris Ballard did a fantastic job in this draft, not only did he address multiple positions of need in this draft most notably to me being cb2 is now solved, I liked every pick but the 3 that stood out to me were hooker Wilson and Mack, after watching Mack play I couldn't believe he was available late in the 4th round, my question relates to Mack mostly I know it's obviously super early to speculate about next years draft but I was thinking or maybe hoping that we use an early selection again next year on a rb so that we can have a young dynamic running back tandem similar to what the Falcons have with freeman and Coleman, I thought last year the secret sauce to the Falcons offensive was really those two backs and in how many different ways they could hurt you, I think that could take our already explosive offense to the next level, what's your opinion on the team possibly going that route?

Bowen: Yep, I could easily see that happen. Frank Gore turns 34 years old in May. He’s in a contract year. He can’t run forever with the Colts. You do have Robert Turbin under contract through 2018. Is Marlon Mack a No. 1 back at the NFL level? Even if Mack shows traits to do that as a rookie, the Colts still would be wise to draft another one in the early rounds next year.

Tim H. (Lafayette, IN)

Well Kevin i think i stepped on it about Marlon Mack. I think we might have drafted a home run hitter. I'm still concerned with Benner. His size if he can keep under control we could use a tackle that size. The rest of the picks look good. What about un drafted players i see a few already signed. How about TE from Browns? He played good last season and an improvement over a couple we have signed? Overall great draft. Can't wait for season. Will be in section 225. Go Colts

Bowen: I was a little surprised the Colts did not draft a tight end. That position was talked about so much going into the draft, but the Colts bypassed one of the deeper groups. The Colts are really going to rely a lot on Mo Alie-Cox this season. Swoope must handle more blocking responsibilities and everything that comes with being a starter as the team’s No. 2 tight end.

Tony C. (Charleston, SC)

Great draft! I think the great picks (Hooker and Wilson) will be great. And the good picks (Basham, Banner and Mack)will be very good. But I also think, what some may think are iffy picks (Stewart, Walker), will be much better than expected. My question today: I have always respected Gil Brandt's ability to rate players. He always lists the best players (in his evalutaion) still undrafted. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000804999/article/top-undrafted-free-agents-following-the-2017-nfl-draft Why have the Colts not drafted many of these guys? We probably have about 5-6 of these guys and none of his top-rated guys. Do our scouts see things that differently than Brandt? His lists are huge. You'd think most of our UDFA's would be on the lists. Just curious. Thanks

Bowen: I see several guys on Brandt’s list that the Colts signed to free agent contracts after the draft. Go back and compare the Colts’ 2017 UDFA class to what Brandt posted.

Joseph B. (Kokomo, IN)

Hi Kevin...oooooo man what a draft Chris Ballard is doing awsome so many questions I don't know where to begin so our secondary is looking pretty right with the lack of attention in the linebackers in the draft I know the grabbed one in the fifth round but still is that a testament to the linebackers that they brought in or the young ones they have or was it more of a were the players fell in the draft bc there were some solid LB on the board when they were picking

Bowen: We had a couple of inside linebacker questions in this week’s mailbag. If you were weighing positional needs for the Colts, you could make an argument that an outside linebacker and an inside linebacker could have come earlier in the draft. But the draft dictates to you and the Colts did a nice job in addressing the future of the secondary with their first two picks. Look further down in the mailbag for a more in-depth look into the inside linebacker debate.

Billy O. (Texas)

I think that this draft has been really positive for the colts and they added a lot of competition at key spots. How does the hype surrounding this draft class compare to the hype around the draft classes in the previous couple years?

Bowen: There’s always draft hype. But, the defensive emphasis on this class probably tops anything the Colts have had since 2012. Finding more than a handful of defenders had to come out of the 2017 draft class.

Landen S. (Washington)

I saw on Anthony walker jr, they projected him to get drafted in the 7th round or even become an undrafted free agent. Did we draft him to high? And also does basham have what it takes to become what we want him to be as our future pure pass rusher?

Bowen: I guess it depends on who’s board you are looking at. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah had Walker ranked as a top-100 prospect. Inside linebacker was a need for the Colts. I have no problem with the Walker selecyion. With Basham, Chris Ballard believes the elite traits of length and quickness off the snap are there for the Ohio product. It’s obviously a pretty big step up from the MAC to playing on Sunday’s. But Basham’s production in college was impressive. I still think you are asking a lot from Basham to crown him the “future pure pass rusher.”

James C. (Bloomington, IN)

I know it maybe to early to tell, but what positions do you think colts will target I'm next year's draft barring any changes to the team?

Bowen: Definitely more defense. Pass rusher and cornerback atop that list. If Frank Gore retires/leaves in free agency, then running back once again is a need considering how much that position is rotated within a game and the importance for multiple backs.

Benny F. (Texas)

I think Marlon Mack was a great pick for the Colts, some scouts compare him to Jordan Howard who was also a late round pick and had a great rookie season. Frank Gore is the obvious starter but who will the get the majority of the carries behind him, Turbin or Mack?

Bowen: Another good question coming out of draft weekend. For now, I’m going to go with Turbin. The Colts think he has multiple down value and Turbin showed last year he can produce. So Turbin deserves the early look for the bulk of the reps behind Gore. Having said that, Mack brings a different element to the running back position. The speed aspect of Mack’s game is something the Colts need and could use in some role this year. I expect both Turbin and Mack to be involved in game plans. If Mack can show he can protect/be a threat as a receiver, then the Colts are going to have to expand his role.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for all your hard work. First of all, I wanted to say that I thought I could hear Chris Ballard's screams of frustration all the way in Minnesota during round 3 when Tim Williams went to Baltimore a couple picks before us. I don't know if there was a more Ballard pick possible. Hopefully Tarell Basham can fill some of the pass rush void. Watching his tape, his motor and power seem to give him a crazy effective bull rush, but I didn't see a ton of finesse in his game. On a preliminary glance, he looks more like a Jabaal Sheard/John Simon/Erik Walden type who can play a great "anchor" role, but will never be confused for a Khalil Mack type of rusher and, if asked to go into coverage, could struggle a little more.

The pass rushing group leads me to this question: with this roster, do you expect to see a lot more Cover 1 looks on D? Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson form a really scary press man pair, Malik Hooker would have freedom to roam, and Clayton Geathers would be allowed to get closer to the action. Plus, the lack of a really terrifying pass rushing threat could be hidden through aggressive blitzing concepts out of a Cover 1 while being protected by the strong press duo outside. It just seems like such a perfect fit for our personnel that Ted Monachino surely must be thinking of incorporating it more.

Bowen: Yes, I think you are onto something here Stan. The Colts need to commit as many resources as possible to creating pressure up front. Having Davis/Wilson on an island, along with Hooker patrolling things in the deep part of the field would allow for the Colts to do that.

Michelle M. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hi Kevin
Great draft by Ballard. My q is this.... UDFA signing.. How much goes into this as far as making the team? I really like our signing of kicker Rigoberto Sanchez from Hawaii. Spot on. Check his you tube highlights. Considering 'the man' vinetari and his age, any possibility of keeping this one as backup and future kicker? We r going younger and as I said, he is spot on! Thank u
Michelle

Bowen: For 18 straight years, the Colts have had at least one rookie undrafted free agent make the team. The Colts, and Chris Ballard, put plenty of investment in seeing what they can find from the UDFA class. Now, Sanchez is a long shot. You just don’t keep “backup” kickers on the 53-man roster. There’s not enough room to do that with roster spots so valuable. Maybe he can be a practice squad option.

Polly J. (Terre Haute, IN)

Is money the reason for cutting Matt Overton? He is such a fan favorite & yes, I hate this move. Good thing Adam is the ultimate pro. I expected many changes but cutting Matt was not one of those changes.

Bowen: The Colts save about $500,000 with the release of Matt Overton, who was under contract through 2018. Overton, who turns 32 years old in July, was the team’s long snapper for each of the past five seasons. I think money/age contributed to the Colts going a different route at long snapper. Overton was very solid in his handful of years here and was a tremendous ambassador in the community.


Ethan H. (Higdon, FL)

What impact do you think this draft will have on the colts roster?

Bowen: Significant. I see two starters from Day One and another three-to-four that will play starting roles in 2017. Both of those numbers should swell even more in 2018. The Colts need for this draft to be the core of where the defensive building is going to come from down the road.


Mark M. (Utah)

Hi Kevin, thanks for your work. 2 questions this time:
1. I saw one analyst compare newly acquired Mack to Jamaal Charles. Is this a good comparison?
2. Looking at the schedule, it looks like there are only two games that we have little chance to win (Steelers/Seahawks) and several games that we should expect to win (Rams, 49ers, 1 vs Jags, 1 vs Titans, Browns, either Ravens or Bills). With that said our schedule could be anywhere between 6-10 to 14-2. I personally think we will go 12-4 with 8 games that could go either way. Do you think that is too optimistic? What is your (little bit too early) prediction?
Thank you!

Bowen: 1. That’s very high praise. But, yes, I think they have a similar style with their elite traits being in getting to the open field and making plays. 2. I saw where the experts in Vegas have the over/under at nine wins for the Colts this coming season. I think 10-to-11 is very realistic. If the defense can climb in the league rankings and the Colts have consistent line play in front of Andrew Luck, this team should be back in the playoffs. You are right in that the schedule isn’t too, too daunting.

Kenneth B. (Indianapolis)

Hey Kevin, thanks for answering my last couple questions. This time my question is do you think the defense can be ranked in the middle of the pack overall this year? Also do you think the offense can be top five overall with some good offensive line play/development?

Bowen: I do, on both accounts. I really think the addition of Johnathan Hankins, plus the healthy returns of Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson is going to greatly enhance the defensive line play in 2017. If that group can get to the level I believe it can, the rest of the defense is going to greatly benefit. The defense also will likely be relying pretty heavily on rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson to play from Day One. With the offense, if that line shows more consistency, there’s no reason the offense should not be ranked in the top five.

David P. (Indianapolis)

Kevin hope you had a great draft weekend like most of us Colts fans did! I have a couple of questions for you today. 

With our need at ILB, what's you thoughts on us passing on Foster in the 1st round and going safety instead? From all I'm getting Hooker could be a great addition to our secondary.

Now with the draft over and we should be adding some UDFAs over the next couple of days, what's the chances of us adding Devine Redding to the RB room to add even more competition and depth? I personally feel that he could be a tremendous pick-up for us and could do big things in both the running and passing game. Honestly, he had consecutive 1000 yard seasons for my one dimensional IU offense.

Bowen: Chris Ballard was asked directly this question. The playmaking ability of Hooker sold Ballard. I think we are seeing a bit of a different approach to inside linebacker play in the NFL. With sub packages so frequent, the days of ILBs playing 95 percent of the snaps are largely gone. You are seeing more hybrid linebackers, like Clayton Geathers. Having said that, the inside linebacker competition is truly wide open going into the rest of the offseason. I was surprised to see Foster drop all the way to the end of the first round. Devine Redding was not picked up by the Colts. Judging by who the Colts signed as undrafted running backs, they were looking for a little more speed from at that spot.


Zach C. (Fort Dodge, IA)

Hey Kevin thanks for answering my questions in the last few mailbags. I was just wondering what days you can tour Lucas oil stadium and what the prices would be?

Bowen: Zach, head here for more information on Lucas Oil Stadium tours.

Tyler M. (Whiteland, IN)

Hey Kevin my question is why do you think that the Colts cut Matt Overton? Also why do you think Jimmy Raye got fired and do you foresee anyone else being cut or fired in the future? Thanks for answering as always!

Bowen: We had Overton question throughout the mailbag, so check those for your answer. With Jimmy Raye, I think this is just part of Chris Ballard wanting to put together his own scouting/personnel department. With scouting contracts, they typically span from draft to draft. So in reality, Ballard was a GM coming in having to keep the current scouting group together. Once the draft ends, that’s when you see teams make moves in the scouting world. I’m a big fan of Raye’s, but this was not too much of a surprise. It’s a like a new coach coming in and wanting to bring in his own coordinators. I have no doubt Raye will be an NFL GM one day.

Jim O. (Avon, IN)

I see that Matt Overton and Joe Fortunato were both released, have I missed another long snapper being signed, do you know what might happen, one of them being resigned later, thought my 45 jersey might be valid a little longer.

Bowen: The Colts have brought in Duke long snapper Thomas Hennessey to take over the long-snapping duties. Hennessey is an undrafted free agent. He will be part of a new operation for Adam Vinatieri next year at snapper (Hennessey) and holder (Jeff Locke).

Jacob H. (Kirkland, WA)

Kevin,

When do the Colts plan to bring each draft pick in and have them put on their full uniform with their new jersey umbers? The Titans have already done so with their first round picks, so Im eager to see how all of our picks look.

Bowen: I’m sure you saw Malik Hooker’s visit with his new jersey last Friday. The rest of the draft picks/rookies will report to Indianapolis a week from Friday for rookie minicamp. That’s when you will see guys in their jerseys.

Adam R. (Michigan City, IN)

Now that is after the draft what are the chances we bring in for a workout Gerald Hodges or Ifo Ekpre-Olomu?

Bowen: I’d be lying to you if I knew what sort of interest the Colts had in these guys. Right now, the roster is at 90 players, so it looks like the Colts like what they’ve got. However, that roster is very fluid. Those two guys are definitely at positions of need, but I feel like if the Colts had serious interest they would have already pursued them.

Jesse S. (Palm Bay, FL)

Hey Kevin,
I am really pleased with the players we picked up in the draft; I think Chris Ballard did a good job. My question is about some of the UDFAs: Do you know if the Colts will be working Garrett Sickels & Jhaustin Thomas at DE or OLB?

Bowen: If I had to guess Thomas will be a DE and Sickels will be an OLB, but still waiting on confirmation from the Colts.

Matt R. (Indianapolis)

Hey Kevin, second time writing in. Love your work man, keep it up!! My question is, I feel like Ballard more addressed the secondary in the draft, which I think is great, but does that mean he thinks Morrison and Jackson are ready to be our inside linebackers for this season? I think we have a solid D line and great pass rushing from signings of Simon and Sheard, but we never addressed the inside linebacker situation and I am not totally comfortable with 2 young and inexperienced linebackers in the middle of our defense.

Bowen: We had several questions regarding the inside linebacker position. I don’t think the Colts are locked into Morrison and Jackson returning as starters this year at all. They went out and signed Sean Spence and Jon Bostic for a reason, along with drafting Anthony Walker. I have hardly an educated guess into how those two spots will play out come Week One. I expect it to be mostly a situational basis for when the Colts use certain guys.

Chris T. (Tampa, FL)

Hi guys! Love what you do and keep up the great work! I'm intrigued at Malik Hooker playing the free safety spot for us. Do you think it's a real possibility of putting TJ Green at a corner spot? At 6'2 and a 4.3 forty yard dash you would think of he is capable playing outside

Bowen: For now, the Colts are keeping T.J. Green at safety. I am curious to see how the selection of Malik Hooker impacts the roles for Green and Darius Butler this season. Remember, the Colts thought the mental hurdle for Green at safety last season contributed to his inconsistent play. Would moving Green to corner overwhelm him? In May, the questions are aplenty at safety. We will have to see what Ted Monachino cooks up for one of the more crowded position groups on the roster.

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.

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