Is Defensive Line Depth Coming In The Draft For The Colts?

Intro: With free agency less than two weeks away, the Colts have a definite need along the defensive line.

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INDIANAPOLIS – In a way, the NFL Draft is a direct result from how the previous season played out.

In the 2013 season, the Seattle's "Legion of Boom" stole the show in spearheading the Seahawks eventual Super Bowl run.

A few months later, in the 2014 Draft, seven defensive backs were taken from picks 18-31 (several of which were considered first-round stretches).

Teams were clearly trying to counter a pass-happy NFL with fresh secondary talent.

So as the 2015 Draft approaches, the early mock drafts have some trends late in the opening round.

One of the Colts clear needs with free agency less than two weeks away lies in the trenches.

"History shows no matter what the scheme starts looking like, in December and January, it comes down to physical football and we, believe me, know about that very well," Ryan Grigson said at last week's Combine.

"We've learned some hard lessons in that respect. It's won in the trenches, so if you can bolster that defensive and offensive line…"

The defensive line class in particular looks to have some quality, first-round depth in 2015.

That falls right in line with the Colts needs entering the offseason.

Ricky Jean Francois, a 13-game starter in 2014, was released earlier this week.

Cory Redding is seriously considering retiring after 12 NFL seasons. Even if Redding doesn't hang up the cleats, his future with the Colts won't be long.

The Colts play in the trenches is something both Grigson and Chuck Pagano have alluded to as areas for improvement this offseason.

Grigson vividly remembers what he saw in the AFC Championship loss.

"You're sitting at a great vantage point after you lose, or while you're losing, and things get magnified," Grigson said at the Combine last week, recalling the AFC Title game.

"Those warts become very magnified when you're getting your tail kicked or when you're sitting there watching the Super Bowl and seeing how the elite teams do it. To get to an elite level, we obviously have to shake some things up and do some things differently and take things to another level across the board. With acquiring players, with coaching, with anything that we feel needs improvement in our building, we're going to try to get to the top of the mountain by implementing that attitude throughout."

Free agency is first up on the Colts offseason calendar as they try to upgrade in the trenches.

With an eye always looking to young, "affordable" pieces comes draft time, the defensive line group looks to have some possibilities.

Here's a glance at this week's mock draft from Don Banks of Sports Illustrated with a focus on the defensive line talent in the second half of the first round:

No. 19-Browns: Malcolm Brown (Texas)

Analysis: *(Pick via Buffalo) *Having secured their much-needed pass-catcher at No. 12 in Louisville's DeVante Parker, the Browns turn their attention to their woeful 32nd-ranked run defense and select one of the draft's safest bets to upgrade the interior of their line.

No. 21-Bengals: Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA)

Analysis: The Bengals' pass rush disappeared last season and needs some fresh blood. Odighizuwa opened some eyes in Indy with his 4.64 run at 6'3'', 267 pounds, and he's going to get pushed up into the lower third of the first round in this pass rush-rich draft.

No. 23-Lions: Eddie Goldman (Florida State)

Analysis: For obvious reasons, the Lions might be in the market for reinforcements at defensive tackle this off-season. The Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley contract situations will likely dictate in which direction Detroit's first-round attention goes.

No. 24-Cardinals: Arik Armstead (Oregon)

Analysis: The Cardinals have to be thinking about defense and finding a front seven player who can add big-play impact. Armstead has a 6'7'', 292-pound frame that has superb NFL potential, and his athleticism makes him yet another defensive line prospect who carries a first-round grade in this year's draft.

No. 28-Broncos: Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma)

Analysis: With Terrance Knighton looking very likely to relocate in free agency, the Broncos select a highly-regarded space-eating cog for the middle of their defensive line.

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