2018 NFL Draft: Indianapolis Colts

03/06/2018
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With the NFL Scouting Combine nearing its end, it’s time for another edition of Draft Options! I’ve already taken a look at some options for the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants. Now, the Indianapolis Colts are on the clock. This team could go in a variety of ways with their third overall pick. Trading down and acquiring some draft picks to add depth along their offensive line and defensive line would be a smart idea. There will be plenty of teams (Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills) who could be looking to move up and draft a quarterback. That’s a good sign for the Colts, who sit in prime position to trade down.

Realistically, trading down doesn’t always present itself for teams. So what happens if the Colts don’t trade down? Do they go after an offensive lineman to protect their quarterback? Drafting an offensive playmaker to help with the resurgence of Andrew Luck could very much be in play for them. Finding a consistent edge rusher could be their top option. There are plenty of options for the Colts, but let’s take a look at the three most realistic options for them.

Saquon Barkley, RB from Penn State

The talent level for Saquon Barkley is through the roof, we all know that. He’s got elite burst, balance and lower body strength. We all know some of the flaws with him, though. Hesitating while approaching the line-of-scrimamge (LOS), trying to do too much laterally, and he’s limited in pass protection.

On the play above, you see Barkley lined up in the slot. Trace McSorley (QB 9) puts him in motion and gives him the hand-off. Barkley displays his burst in the open field. He plants and accelerates up field. He’s not the only back that can do this, but he does it consistently and better than anyone else.

 

The graph above is an interactive graph for all of you. You can see a pretty complete spider chart with Saquon Barkley. Out of all the running backs in this class, nobody will have a chart like this. Nick Chubb‘s spider chart is also impressive, but again, Barkley is the top back in this class. For the Colts to draft him, it would be a great landing spot for him. He’d be the replacement for future Hall of Famer Frank Gore. Also, with Frank Reich as the new head coach, this offense is going to look different. Reich loves to run an up-tempo offense that consists of multiple formations and a lot of no-huddle. Run-pass options (RPOs) have become the most common discussion among offenses all over football. Reich will run them and having a healthy Andrew Luck with Saquon Barkley would provide this offense with multiple options to move the ball downfield. Many people won’t like the idea of taking a running back this early, but with Barkley’s size, strength and overall athletic ability, he’s going to be hard for teams to pass on. The Colts are included on this list.

Bradley Chubb, EDGE from North Carolina State

https://streamable.com/db7w6

How many times have we read about another dominant edge rusher from North Carolina State? Bradley Chubb is no different. He had a 2017 season for the Wolfpack, and to finish it off he had a great Scouting Combine. Measuring in at 6’4 and 269 pounds, Chubb looks the part of an every-down defensive end in a four-man front.

On the play above, you’ll notice a really nice inside pass rush from Chubb (DE 9). He begins his rush aiming for the outside shoulder of the left tackle, but then counters back inside with a nice swim move that makes him untouchable. The quarterback clearly sees the rush, feels the pressure, and just tosses the ball. These are plays that Chubb can bring you on Sundays that impact what can happen on every down.

For the Colts, they’ve needed an edge rusher since the Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney days. It seems like centuries ago, but they’re well overdue for a consistent threat off the edge. At this point, Chubb seems to be the most realistic option for the Colts, and he’s certainly my favorite fit for them outside of Quenton Nelson.

https://streamable.com/9xu3c

On this play, you’ll notice Chubb (DE 9) rushing off the edge. He’s consistently shown his ability to cross the tackle’s face inside, bend and tackle the ball carrier at the line-of-scrimmage. This isn’t a tackle for loss, but it’s a great run stop from the powerful edge rusher.

Over the last two seasons, Chubb has posted a ridiculous 44 tackles for loss (TFL). That’s incredibly productive, and it goes to show that he’s more than just a pass rusher. He has a presence in stopping the run, and even though the NFL is a pass-first league, stopping the run is still important. For Chubb, he’ll bring his blend of speed-to-power on Sundays and he’ll post great numbers for any team that drafts him.

Roquan Smith, LB from Georgia

 

I promise this isn’t a typo. Roquan Smith is a top-5 player in this draft. He’s got incredible quickness, range, and his mental processing is off the charts. Mind you, his change of direction is some of the best I’ve ever seen from a linebacker. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time the Colts had a good linebacker. Can you? Right now they have Jabaal Sheard, Jon Bostic, and Antonio Morrison as their linebackers. That’s far from great. Last year, they drafted Anthony Walker out of Northwestern, and while I was a fan of his game, he’s still going to need more time to develop into an every-down linebacker.

By drafting Roquan Smith, the Colts get a player that’s already developed and is ready to go. He’ll play every-down and would be a tremendous leader for this defense. From stopping the run or dropping into coverage, there’s not much that Smith can’t do. The Colts would be doing their defense big favors by drafting him, especially as they switch over to a base 4-3 defense. He could play as a MIKE linebacker, but playing him outside as a SAM or WILL would be more ideal.

 

Above, you’ll notice the measurables for Roquan Smith. Some would consider him “undersized”, but that’s actually today’s linebacker. You want a guy that can run fast, come in under control and disrupt anything the offense is doing. Smith will be able to do that for the Colts’ defense. He ran a 4.51 during the 40-yard dash and yes, I know, that’s not the most important number. However, it’s still an impressive number to see for his straight line speed.

At the NFL Scouting Combine he did tweak his hamstring during some of the drills, so his day was cut short, but it doesn’t look like it will be a long-term injury. He’ll be ready to go for the Bulldogs’ pro day and there shouldn’t be any limitations for him when gets to a team’s training camp. This might not be the most popular option among mock drafts, but let’s be real, this is the NFL Draft, so expect the unexpected. This would be the pick that turns plenty of heads on the opening night of the draft, but it makes plenty of sense.

 

National Scout for Cover 1. Host of Cover 1 | The NFL Draft Podcast. NFL Draft Enthusiast. X's and O's. Heard on ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio.

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