2017 NFL Draft

Projecting the draft: Indianapolis Colts

Projecting the draft: Indianapolis Colts

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
The unthinkable has happened and Peyton Manning will don a different NFL uniform other than the Colts' blue and white for the first time since he was drafted. The Post-Manning era in Indianapolis will almost certainly have some bumps with the turnover on the roster from past years, but the city is buzzing with excitement for the future. And the No. 1 reason why is because the Colts hold the first overall pick in a draft class with two franchise-level quarterbacks.

Not only is Manning gone, but the Colts introduced a new General Manager, Ryan Grigson, and coaching staff led by defensive-minded head coach Chuck Pagano. Grigson, who spent the previous nine seasons in the Philadelphia Eagles' front office, is a former NFL offensive lineman and will make his debut on draft weekend as the main decision-maker when his team is on the clock.

The first pick is a no brainer – it will be a quarterback. But the better question is, which quarterback will it be? After they pick their quarterback, the roster has several other holes that need to be addressed and Grigson and company currently hold 10 draft picks in their arsenal to rebuild a winner.

Five prospects the Colts might consider:

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 1)
I know, I know, obvious, right? Maybe not. Many believe the first overall choice should be Baylor's Robert Griffin III because of his immense upside and the fact that he brings a different style from Manning, avoiding comparisons to the future Hall of Famer. However, Luck is the smart and correct choice with the first overall pick because he can step in from day one and command a very average offense. He doesn't have the biggest arm or athleticism of RGIII, but what he brings to the field mentally is unmatched for a rookie and will set him apart in the huddle. The quarterback position is extremely tough to judge and the draft is about as unpredictable as the lottery, but Luck is as close to a “sure thing” if there ever was one. It's unrealistic to think Colts' fans will forget the name Peyton Manning, but Luck is the perfect candidate to pass the torch as Indianapolis transitions to a different era.

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 26)
Perhaps we haven't seen the last of the Luck-to-Fleener connection. With a rookie quarterback under center, the Colts need to surround him with weapons to help make his job easier and Fleener would achieve just that. The tight end has been a position of strength the past decade, but with Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme playing elsewhere in 2012, the Colts would be wise to draft an upgrade over the current top tight end on the depth chart, Brody Eldridge. With the second pick in the second round (34th overall), Indianapolis will have the opportunity to draft a first round player who might fall out of the initial 32 picks and that could easily be the former Stanford tight end. He is a big, fast receiving tight end with the versatility to line up all over the offense. Fleener has first round ability, but with few teams needing a starting tight end in the later stages of the opening round, Fleener's fall could be Grigson's gain.

G Brandon Brooks, Miami (OH) (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 67)
The Colts added Samson Satele to replace Jeff Saturday at center, but that still leaves holes at both guard spots. Ben Ijalana is expected to take over one of the guard positions and Brandon Brooks would be a nice candidate for the other one. The former MAC stand out, who was snubbed from the NFL Combine in February, was a four-year starter and went from a 290-pound freshman to 353 pounds as a senior, possessing the overall framework and girth that NFL teams covet in linemen. Brooks is still a little rough around the edges and is far from a finished product, but has definite pro upside and could develop into a mauling inside blocker with strong coaching. He should be considered in the second or third round.

CB Dwight Bentley, La-Lafayette (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 107)
Regardless of the defensive front seven alignment, the Colts need to make a considerable effort to improve their secondary. Last year, Indianapolis ranked last in the NFL in opponents completion percentage (71.2%) and interceptions (8), needing an upgrade on the outside at cornerback. Dwight Bentley made the most of his late invitation to the Senior Bowl, showcasing his fluid lower half and speed to stay in receivers' pocket up and down the field. He was a consistent performer the past four seasons and does a nice job creating with the ball in his hands on turnovers (7 career INTs, 28.3 average on INT returns and 3 defensive scores). Bentley is still a little rough around the edges with only average size and strength, but presents an excellent value in the third or fourth round for the Colts to develop.

NT Josh Chapman, Alabama (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 108)
As the Colts transition to coach Pagano's 3-4 defensive scheme, the addition of a nose tackle to anchor the middle of that three-man front is imperative to the overall defensive success. The Colts' currently have Antonio Johnson and Brandon McKinney slated to share the nose tackle duties, but neither is considered the long-term answer and depth at this position is never a bad thing. Chapman (6-1, 316) manned the middle of Nick Saban's 3-4 defense in college and might be the most natural nose tackle in this draft class. He has been somewhat of an afterthought during the pre-draft process because he has been shelved after tearing his ACL, despite playing through the pain for several weeks. Chapman is still rehabbing from the injury, but would be a nice pick in the fourth round for Indy to groom as their nose tackle of the future.
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