Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Trading Up In The Draft, Options At Tackle, Not Selecting A Quarterback

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INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.

Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here.

Let's jump right into this week's questions:

Jill M. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): "Hi! Always love reading the mailbag, thanks for all of the time that you put in :) I know that as fans we are anticipating a free agent QB signing to mentor a young QB we pick up in the draft (namely, Love). And my question is, if we do not pick up a free agent do you think that there is a chance Andrew takes on a sort of mentor role for the young QB? Maybe not to the degree that Robert Mathis is involved with our pass rushers, but something to that effect? Thanks again!! Can't wait to get your thoughts on this."

Walker: Hey Jill, thanks so much for reading, and for your question. Unfortunately, I don't have much of an answer for you as it pertains to any sort of hypothetical "mentor role" for Andrew Luck. Luck's retirement press conference on Aug. 24 was the last time he's made any sort of public comments of any sort, so it's tough for me to speculate as to what his next move, if any, might be. We have heard Luck is very much enjoying his new role as a father to his daughter, Lucy, so, for now, we'll just let him enjoy every bit of that, and if and when he has anything to say, we'll be listening.

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Alex H. (Indianapolis): "Dear Mr.Walker, It's no secret that the Colts are looking at the QB situation. Well I see that the Derek Carr is a possible trade candidate. So do you think it's possible that the Colts could get him? I've been a supporter of his ever since he entered the league, and I would love to see him don a horseshoe. Also we know that we're looking for a WR to complement TY Hilton. Well I see that Dez Bryant is looking and the Cowboys are thinking about letting Amari Cooper go to save money on Dak Presscot. Do you think that the Colts could sign one of them and if so which one? I look forward to your answer. #COLTSFAN4LIFE! Thanks"

Walker: if you're talking about guys who are currently free agents (Dez Bryant), or are set to become free agents soon (Amari Cooper), then it's much easier to sit here and speculate about the possibility of the Colts potentially having interest and/or the role they could play. But when we start talking about guys currently under contract with other teams, like Derek Carr, it's a bit tougher, just considering I have absolutely no idea what it would take to acquire them in a trade. So, yes, on the surface, a guy like Carr seems to bring a lot of the traits the Colts would want in a quarterback: he's accurate (career-best 70.4 completion percentage last season), he gets the ball out of his hands quickly (2.82-second time to throw figure was fifth-fastest in the NFL in 2019), he has a solid yards-per-attempt figure (career-best 7.9 last year) and he protects the football (his 1.6 interception percentage last season was the fourth-best figure in the league). But, again, he's not immediately available, and by listening to Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock talk at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, the Raiders really like what they have in Carr, who, according to Mayock, had an impressive year in 2019, especially considering the fact the team never really had any consistent weapons for him to throw to. Quarterbacks like that don't just usually become available, and even if their names are floated between GMs, one can imagine the asking price would be pretty high.

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Marvin D. (New York City): "I'm fully aware of the work Jacoby Brissett has ahead of him if he would like to be the starter for 2020. However i believe acquiring a free agent Qb is not the answer for our future and certainly goes against the grain of the "Ballard way." With that being said, Jalen hurts with our late second pick could be something to consider. Frank Reich and Nick would be able to groom Hurts into the QB we need. This will also give Brissett another chance to prove his worth and an opportunity for the team to solidify the other pressing needs. After lossing luck we definitely went into rebuild mode. We (fans/media) didn't want to believe it, but this is where we are. Growing our own players and sticking to the draft will make the Colts a superbowl contender in the next 2 years. 13th overall pick: Derrick Brown/ Javon Kinlaw or Jerry Jeudy/ CeeDee Lamb. What are your thoughts? Thank you"

Walker: Lots to take in here, Marvin, but I'll try my best to answer what you've presented:

» I'm finding it difficult to get a good read on Jalen Hurts. He was obviously able to utilize his talents very well at the college level, but different sources are putting him all over the place when it comes to how he projects as an NFL quarterback. I've seen some mock drafts that have Hurts being taken in the second round, and then there's some chatter that he could be given more of a later-round grade, but because of the position he plays he might get a little bump and be selected in the middle rounds.

» I do not believe at all the Colts went into "rebuild mode" after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. It was a stunning development, for sure, but the team had been building a pretty talented roster around Luck for a couple years at least, and when you start out the season with a 5-2 record and you're atop the division without Luck at quarterback, you definitely aren't thinking about what you're going to be looking like in 2021. Chris Ballard and his staff will always keep an eye on the future, of course, but if you're Frank Reich and his staff — and, of course, the players in the locker room — you want to win now. The Colts showed that with their ideal start to the 2019 season, but they just couldn't get the job done from there.

» And I personally think it'll come down to picking between defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw or wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb when the Colts go on the clock with the 13th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft next month. I think there will be a run on quarterbacks ahead of the Colts, so that option could very well be out the window, while Derrick Brown, to me, won't escape the top-10 — and certainly not the top-12. And this is my honest-to-goodness opinion: I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three between Kinlaw, Jeudy or Lamb. All three address needs and all three could become instant playmakers in Indy.

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Javier M. (Jacksonville, Fla.): "What's up!!! I was wondering, Ron Rivera has previously stated that not having a 2nd round pick in this year's draft is a burden. Is it too steep to think that the Colts and Redskins could swap 1st round picks and we give them our first 2nd-round pick?"

Walker: What's up, Javier? So I think this is what you're asking: do I think the Colts could trade the 13th- and 34th-overall picks to the Washington Redskins for the second-overall pick? I think if you're the Colts, and you're interested in trading up that high, then you'd do that deal in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I think it would take much more to acquire the No. 2-overall pick if you really wanted to get there. We might even be talking about a 2021 first-round pick, if we're being honest. So, yes, I can see why Ron Rivera would lament the fact the team doesn't have that early second-round pick at its disposal, but they won't just discount the No. 2-overall pick to get it back.

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Keagan G. (Montpelier, Ohio): "Andrew: This is my first time writing one of these. I have been a huge Colts fan my whole life starting in the Peyton era. I think our Colts are heading in the right direction just have had some things not go our way recently but believe in Ballard and Reich. My question is about the draft. I know some people say QB and WR are our biggest needs. I am looking at that LT spot and potentially losing someone that is vital to our line in Coztanzo in the near future. What would you think about the Colts taking Wirfs at 13. We could move him to RT kick Braden Smith back inside and Glownowski now becomes the swing man for us if injuries occur. Also could you imagine Wirfs and Nelson on the same side together for years to come? Thanks for giving me the chance to ask a question."

Walker: Thanks for writing in, Keagan. You obviously know your stuff, so we hope to hear from you again. I think you're right on the money that the tackle position, particularly on the left side, remains a major area to address this offseason, even despite the fact that Anthony Castonzo seems on track to return to the team in 2020. But Castonzo's imminent return, to me, buys you at least a little time to take a tackle a little later in the draft and use the next year or so to get him ready to go whenever he's needed in a starting role. Now, there's still a chance a guy like Tristan Wirfs is at the top of the Colts' draft board when they go on the clock with the 13th-overall pick and the team decides to take him, anyway. So the team does seem as if it will have a couple options available at that spot. But here's a point I want to make, because I see it brought up often: I don't foresee any scenarios in which Braden Smith would be kicked back inside to guard, unless there's a string of injuries up front and it's an emergency situation. Smith is viewed by the Colts as a right tackle — in fact, he's one of the best young right tackles in the NFL.

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Tanner W. (Newcastle, Okla.): "Do you see CeeDee Lamb as a possibility for the Colts with the number 13 overall pick?"

Walker: Because it's tough for me to closely follow the college football season year after year, I honestly didn't know a whole lot about CeeDee Lamb until the last couple months. But once I started doing a little more digging on him, he's become one of my favorite prospects in this year's draft. I don't know what's not to like: he's got size (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) and speed (4.5-second 40-yard dash), a pair of elite hands, really good jumping ability and, while he can burn you deep, he is also dangerous as a yards-after-catch guy with the ball already in his hands. I've heard Lamb described as "DeAndre Hopkins-lite," and what team wouldn't want that in its offense? So it wouldn't surprise me at all if Lamb is high up on the Colts' board when the team goes on the clock with the 13th-overall pick. 

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Jim S. (Logansport, Ind.): "We don't need a past their prime quarterback. You guys aren't seriously considering bringing Philip Rivers in and upsetting the team chemistry, are you?"

Walker: Logansport? Your city's high school's mascot is Felix the Cat! OK, enough of the North Central Conference rivalry stuff — Jim, I really have no idea one way or another whether the Colts are "seriously considering bringing Philip Rivers in" at this point, but is it really all that crazy for the team to consider all its options at the quarterback position heading into free agency and the draft? Yes, Jacoby Brissett is a team leader and he's beloved by his teammates, but he's being evaluated just like everyone else is this offseason; if the team feels its best chance of winning now is to stick with Brissett — which could very well end up happening — then that move will assuredly be applauded by his teammates. But if the team ends up ultimately deciding to make a move at quarterback, then these guys are professionals and will move forward.

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Devin B. (Logan, Utah): "Let's say that the Colts end up not drafting a QB. How do you think they would justify it?"

Walker: To me, Devin, the justification would be pretty simple: the team did not believe any of the quarterbacks available to them were an ideal fit, and the best long-term answer is to go with what they've got and/or put their eggs in the 2021 NFL Draft basket. Just because there's a perceived need at quarterback doesn't mean you have to get one in this year's draft. Chris Ballard said he thinks the quarterbacks this year are a "good group" and has "good depth at all levels" but that "you've got to be true to your evaluation" if you're thinking about taking one. 

"I think more mistakes are made when you push that position up, and … all of a sudden the expectations and everything else builds up on that kid," he said.

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Tristan G. (Rutland, Vt.): "Could the Colts use the 34th or 44th pick on a TE. It seems like the best TE's will still be on the board. It could bolster pass game as we've seen success with the colts running two TE sets. Could use the first or third pick on a QB and WR and work on DL in FA"

Walker: I'd agree with you, Tristan, that tight end is a need for the Colts in this year's draft, and that they very well could take one of the top players at the position in the second round if they wanted to. Whether it's Notre Dame's Cole Kmet, Washington's Hunter Bryant, Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, Dayton's Adam Trautman, Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant or LSU's Thaddeus Moss, it seems as if one or more of these guys will be there for the taking, and every single one of them could provide the offense with an instant playmaker. You're still extremely happy with returners Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox, but you also know Frank Reich will be looking to try to replace the type of role free-agent-to-be Eric Ebron played the last couple of seasons as more of a pass-catching specialist at the tight end position. The Colts could address that in free agency, but the draft will have its share of options, as well.

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Harvey F. (Indianapolis): "Which position need will more likely be filled by free agency then the draft?"

Walker: That's a good question, Harvey. I keep looking at the defensive line and wonder to myself whether or not the Colts will be enticed to dip their toe into that group of free agents this offseason. There are certainly some big-ticket names set to become free agents — Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Barrett, Arik Armstead, Dante Fowler, D.J. Reader, Javon Hargrave and others — but there are also quite a few guys set to earn their second contracts who are just entering their prime that might be worth exploring, guys like Jarran Reed, Shaq Lawson, Quinton Jefferson, Michael Pierce or Maliek Collins.

I also wouldn't rule out the Colts exploring free agency to find depth along the offensive line, particularly at tackle. While you could certainly select a tackle in the draft, that route usually results in a need to develop the player before they're really ready to go, so with Le'Raven Clark and Joe Haeg both set to hit free agency, that always leaves the possibility of Indy signing a quality backup at tackle to be ready to go just in case.

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