INDIANAPOLIS — With the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft now out of the way, it's really time for Chris Ballard and his player personnel staff to go to work.
While the Indianapolis Colts' selection of Ohio State safety Malik Hooker in the first round (15th overall) appears to be a slam dunk, now it's time for the team to go to its draft board once again and figure out which playmakers were possibly overlooked in the first round and could be steals in the next two rounds.
A behind the scenes look at the Colts "war room" during day one of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The second and third rounds continue in primetime tonight, as the picks begin pouring in at 7 p.m. ET. The Colts, for now, have two Friday picks: one in the second round (46th overall) and one in the third round (80th overall).
The selection of Hooker conveniently addressed a major need for the Colts' defense, which had already seen a major overhaul this offseason thanks in large part to a very active free agency period. But other than re-signing veteran Darius Butler, who will move to safety full-time, and seeing another key veteran, Mike Adams, sign with the Carolina Panthers, the team knew it needed to address its secondary at some point early in the draft.
It just so happened that Hooker — the top player on the Colts' draft board and a guy considered by many to be a Top-10 pick going into the draft — was there for the picking when Indianapolis went on the clock at 15th overall.
Ballard remained adamant in his pre-draft press conference that the Colts won't necessarily draft for need. He just wants fierce (but likely friendly) competition at each position group, which rises the play of the entire team.
So who could Ballard possibly be targeting in the second and third rounds? It's obviously tough to say without getting a chance to look at the Colts' draft board (I'm still waiting to hear back on that request), but fortunately, some of the best draft prognosticators in the business spent a great deal of time in recent days and weeks formulating not only a mock draft for the first round, but for the first few rounds.
Here's a little roundup of the players linked to the Colts in the second and third rounds in various notable mock drafts:
- Todd McShay, ESPN: Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston ("Bowser is rising up boards because he's athletic enough to rush the passer off the edge on one play and drop into coverage on the next.")
- Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC ("This is an upside pick. Smith-Schuster didn't have a great 2016 season, but the traits to be a No. 1 receiver are there. I love his competitiveness.")
- McShay: Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State ("The Colts need to find a way to improve their pass rush, and Willis had good production at Kansas State. He tested off the charts at the combine, but that type of elite athleticism didn't always show up on tape.")
- Kiper Jr.: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State ("McDowell is a polarizing prospect with mouth-watering athleticism and size (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) but a questionable motor and work ethic. He's worth betting on in the middle of the second round and could be a big-time steal if he becomes more consistent.")
- WalterFootball.com: Dion Dawkins, G/OT, Temple ("The Colts need to make sure Andrew Luck is protected as well as possible. The big hole they have up front is at one of the guard spots.")
- MMQB's Emily Kaplan: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova ("He's 6' 7" with nearly 36-inch arms, and he's athletic to boot. Kpassagnon might be a little raw, but the upside as a pass-rusher is tremendous.")
- Peter Schrager, Fox Sports: Budda Baker, S, Washington
- Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Justin Evans, S, Texans A&M
- McShay: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida ("I loved Tabor's tape, but his stock took a nosedive after he ran a 4.62 40 at the combine. He's worth the risk at this point for the CB-needy Colts.")
- Kiper Jr.: Jermaine Eluemunor, OG, Texas A&M ("The London-born Eluemunor is a project who played guard and tackle for the Aggies. I think he'll stay inside in the NFL.")
- McShay: ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama ("Stewart has reliable hands, and the Colts are still searching for a consistent No. 2 to play opposite of T.Y. Hilton; Donte Moncrief struggled with injuries last season, and Jacoby Brissett has just 51 catches in two seasons.")
- WalterFootball.com: Blair Brown, LB, Ohio ("The Colts signed Sean Spence this offseason, but he's not nearly enough to fix their glaring inside linebacker problem.")
- Kaplan: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State ("The Colts need depth at cornerback. Kazee's size likely relegates him to the slot, but he's a scrappy playmaker.")
- Schrager: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
- Reuter: D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
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.