INDIANAPOLIS — You want a more in-depth look at the Indianapolis Colts' 2017 NFL Draft haul?
Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo has got you covered.
Palazzolo wrote a piece in which he ran through every pick for all 32 NFL teams — all 253 of them — mostly utilizing PFF's college grading system to determine exactly what each squad could be expecting from its newest crop of players.
The Indianapolis Colts, of course, selected eight players in this year's draft, and first-year general manager Chris Ballard — as he did in free agency, too — took a defense-heavy approach. In all, six of the eight players picked play on that side of the ball, including first-round pick Malik Hooker, a talented safety out of Ohio State.
Palazzolo, predictably, was a big fan of that pick for Indianapolis, and dug up some good nuggets on the seven other members of the Colts' 2017 draft class:
1 (15) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
2 (46) Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
3 (80) Tarell Basham, Edge, Ohio
4 (137) (from New England) Zach Banner, OT, USC
4 (143) (from San Francisco) Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
4 (144) Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (Ga.)
5 (158) Nate Hairston, CB, Temple
7 (161) (from San Francisco via Washington) Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern
Day 1: The Colts need playmakers on defense and they added one of the best in the draft in Hooker. He created a career's worth of highlights in only a season of action at Ohio State, picking off seven passes due to his incredible range on the back end. The big concern for Hooker is his tackling as he missed 13 tackles and ranked 136th among safeties in tackling efficiency.
Day 2: Wilson adds more help to the secondary after allowing a passer rating of only 29.9 into his coverage in 2016, good for third in the nation. He'll get beat at the line of scrimmage at times in press coverage, but Wilson's length, change of direction and production make for a good second-round prospect. Basham is a relentless pass-rusher who ranked fifth in the nation with 71 total pressures in 2016. He'll leave some plays on the table, particularly if left in space, but he should compete for immediate snaps on the edge for the Colts.
Day 3: Banner can contribute at tackle in the Colts' gap scheme, though he's had his issues in pass protection against speed rushers. Mack is a big-play threat who ranked 12th in the draft class with an elusive rating of 93.4 and fifth with 52.3 percent of his yards coming on breakaway (15-plus yard) runs. Stewart is a massive, athletic nose tackle projection, while Walker missed far too many tackles at Northwestern (53 in three years), but his 85.7 grade against the run ranked 20th in the nation last season.
Palazzolo's analysis is a nice, objective outsider's view about what the Colts' rookies will immediately bring to the table — and, of course, what they still need to work on to become more complete players.
And a lot of what he researched lines up with what Ballard and head coach Chuck Pagano have been saying about these players since their selections late last month — especially the later-round picks.
"You want to try and get as many high-end talents. They've got to have something unique," Ballard said. "The good thing is – I can look at every one of these guys and tell you there's a unique trait. Grover (Stewart) is a big man with strength, good initial quickness and he can run. He's got a unique trait. Nate Hairston – good athlete, good speed, good toughness. Anthony Walker – burst, speed. Zach Banner, he's a giant of a man. All of them have something unique and now we turn it over to our coaches and let them bring their talent to light"
"They all can be really good football players," Pagano said. "We are a long, long ways away, but we're talking big picture. We're talking building this thing and building something special."
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