The Indianapolis Colts had perhaps one of the strangest seasons I can think of in 2017. Star quarterback Andrew Luck did not play a single snap the entire season after injuring his shoulder the season before, leaving the team in the hands of former Patriots backup QB Jacoby Brissett. The results were… not good. Through bad coaching — and I mean really really bad coaching, — injuries to key players, and bad bounces, the Colts finished the year 4-12.
But not all is “doom and gloom” with the Colts. The Colts had 9 halftime leads last season, which was one of the highest amounts in the NFL despite only winning four games. Many could point to horrible coaching as the main reason, and that is likely one of the major reasons the Colts fired Chuck Pagano in favor of New England Patriots play caller Josh McDaniels. To add on to that optimism, the Colts are in prime position to trade down in the draft (as I did here trading pick 1.03 for picks 1.06 and 2.49) with teams needy for a QB. All that said, here is my mock draft for the Colts:
Round 1 Pick 6: Bradley Chubb EDGE NC State
Bradley Chubb to the Colts is probably one of the easiest to predict picks in the entire draft. The Colts are in desperate need of not only guys who can get sacks, but guys who can at least generate pressure. In 2017, the Colts ranked 31st in the NFL in total sacks, ranking above only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The easy option is the EDGE rusher out of NC State. Chubb is far from a perfect prospect, which is why I was able to trade back and still pick him in this mock, but he is the best pass rusher in this class. His blend of size, technique, and athleticism is very impressive, and the production was certainly there in college. He can immediately step in from day one and have a major impact helping this defense turn the corner. He may not be a Joey Bosa or Myles Garrett-level pass rusher, but Chubb is at the head of this class in that aspect.
Bradley Chubb is a strong SOB with a great motor. Takes on a chip from the RB and then blows past the RT. It’s a mistake if he doesn’t go in the Top 5. pic.twitter.com/pN3CcmczGo
— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) January 26, 2018
Round 2 Pick 36: Sony Michel RB Georgia
It may be an unpopular pick going running back this early in the draft, but the Colts are in desperate need of a young, three down running back. Frank Gore, no matter what your opinion of him, is not getting any younger, and I am of the belief that rookie fan favorite Marlon Mack will always be a solid change of pace / third down back in the NFL. The perfect player to compliment these two is Georgia running back Sony Michel. Michel has the ideal size (5’11” 216 pounds) combined with excellent vision and burst to be a great running back in the NFL. I think the two most impressive traits that Michel displays, that many other successful running backs have, are his versatility and insane contact balance. His ability as a receiver won’t limit them on first down like Gore has, and his contact balance is perhaps the best in the class. Michel would be an instant upgrade for the Colts and would be an excellent weapon to add to Andrew Luck’s arsenal.
Round 2 Pick 49: Braden Smith OG Auburn
It’s no secret that the Colts need offensive lineman. The last time Andrew Luck played, he was constantly under pressure and getting hit, which led to his many injuries. In order to prevent that from happening again, the Colts must upgrade their front five. They have two above-average players in Ryan Kelly and Jack Mewhort, along with a solid tackle in Anthony Castonzo. However, they need to upgrade the right side of their line. A big, athletic mauler who could immediately step in and start is Braden Smith. Smith not only has elite size (6’6” 285 pounds), but he has insane flexibility that enables him to beat quicker defenders to the spot. I think a lot of people will fall in love with UTEP guard Will Hernandez, but Smith brings the same mentality and strength, but with better footwork and mobility. Smith is a first round prospect to me and the Colts would benefit greatly from adding him in the second round of this draft.
Round 3 Pick 67: DJ Moore WR Maryland
The Colts are in desperate need of a solid number two receiver on their roster. Are we seeing a trend here? TY Hilton is one of the top players at his position in the NFL, but he can’t do it all alone. The Colts passing game last year relied almost solely on Hilton getting open deep. Which is… not a great formula for winning. Donte Moncrief was the team’s number two receiver, but he was wildly inconsistent and is set to hit free agency. The Colts would be wise to target the draft’s most underrated receiver in DJ Moore. Moore may not offer great size (5’9” 180 pounds), but he makes up for that by doing almost every thing else at an upper-echelon level. His route running skills are very deceptive; he sets up defenders effortlessly and is then able to move around them with ease. His hands are among the best and strongest in the class. He simply catches everything, no matter the traffic or contact, that is thrown his way. Lastly, his ability as a ball carrier is unmatched. He plays almost like a running back with the ball. Moore would simply be the best option to compliment the league’s best deep threat on the Colts’ offense in 2018.
Round 4 Pick 106: Fred Warner ILB BYU
The Colts really need to upgrade at inside linebacker. Not only were last year’s players — guys like Antonio Morrison and Jeremiah George — unreliable, they were just slow. Fun fact: starter for the Colts Antonio Morrison ran a 5.1 40 yard dash coming out of college. That’s insanely slow, and it shows in the NFL. The league is changing to slimmer, more athletic linebackers and the Colts need a young athlete to take over at that spot. Speedy linebacker Fred Warner may be the answer. Warner fits the new mold in terms of size (6’4” 230 pounds) and brings an insane combination of range and awareness to the middle linebacker position. He is also an excellent pass defender, possessing the ability to cover tight ends and track the ball downfield. Warner may not be an instant starter due to some questions in run defense, but as a pass down defender who could develop, Warner would be an excellent pick in the fourth round.
Round 5 Pick 142: Marcell Frazier EDGE Missouri
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a common theme going on in this draft. The Colts really, really need pass rushers. To reiterate from earlier in the article, the Colts were 31st in the NFL last season in sacks, only mustering 25 on the season. Marcell Frazier may be raw, but he has the potential to be a good pick in the long run. Ideal size of 6’5” 265 pounds combined with above-average speed and hand usage, Frazier has the raw makings of an elite pass rusher. Coming from a school that has had its fair share of stud pass rushers make an impact in the NFL (Kony Ealy, Markus Golden, Charles Harris, Aldon Smith, and Shane Ray all came out of Missouri), it’s safe to say that Frazier has had some of the best coaching a pass rusher could have at the college level. The only real issue with him is consistency on a down-to-down basis. Sitting behind Chubb and being a situational pass rusher may suit him well, as he would only be asked to pin his ears back and attack the quarterback. Overall, Frazier would be a high-upside pick with the ability to be an excellent pass rusher. Pretty good for a 5th rounder.
Round 6 Pick 181: Brandon Facyson CB Virginia Tech
Cornerback is surprisingly not a very dire need for the Colts heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. Diamond in the rough Rashaan Melvin looked excellent last season, showing off enough skill to, at the very minimum, be a suitable stand-in cornerback #1 for the near future. Rookie Nate Hairston displayed a lot of skills in the slot this past season, and that appears to be his role going forward. So that just leaves the question of who will play opposite Melvin on the other side. The role will likely go to Quincy Wilson, but the Colts could use another young corner as competition / depth. Brandon Facyson would be the type of guy the Colts need to bring in. Facyson is one of the more polished, high-floor corners in this class. Working under legendary defensive coach Bud Foster for five years, Facyson has almost flawless technique in coverage. He is excellent in press and flips his hips with almost no wasted motion, despite not being the greatest athlete. Facyson is likely never a star in the NFL, but he is the perfect player to push Wilson and provide excellent depth along the way.
Round 7 Pick 221: Azeem Victor ILB Washington
Now here’s the big, risky pick. Azeem Victor is a great talent who offers excellent range, athleticism, and physicality at the inside linebacker position. Victor likely would have been a day two pick in this draft if it weren’t for getting arrested for a DUI and suspended from the team this past season. The Colts are in a great position to take him here in the 7th round though. They already picked up Fred Warner earlier in this draft, and him along with last year’s pick Anthony Walker can be a suitable pair at inside linebacker. So immediately there is no need for Victor to be relied on in case there was another incident. So essentially the Colts would be taking little risk on a Day 2-caliber player in the 7th round. Plus GM Chris Ballard was with the Chiefs when they drafted DT Chris Jones and WR Tyreek Hill, and those both ended up working great for that team. Victor just seems like an obvious choice here with the talent and athleticism he could bring to the Colts defense.