Indianapolis Colts 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
2012 proved to be quite the comeback season for the Indianapolis Colts, just one year removed from a horrendous 2-14 season that caused owner Jim Irsay to completely clean house, which, most notably, marked the end of the Peyton Manning era in Indy.
You all know the story. They drafted Andrew Luck first overall, who came in and promptly showed why many were calling him perhaps the greatest QB prospect since his predecessor. New head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September, and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, also in his first year with the team, stepped into his place on an interim basis. Arians did a fantastic job filling-in, winning the league’s Coach of the Year award and parlaying this job into a head coaching opportunity in Arizona.
With the inspiration of Pagano, Luck and the Colts reeled-off a series of dramatic, last-second wins, culminating in an improbable 11-5 season and an AFC Wild Card berth. They were promptly dispatched by the Super Bowl champion-to-be Baltimore Ravens in the first round, but the building blocks are clearly in place for this franchise.
Where can they look to improve for 2013?
Offense: RB, OL, WR depth
Andrew Luck enjoyed a very productive rookie season, which is rather surprising considering he was having to do it behind one of the worst offensive lines in the entire league. They’re in need of upgrades all over that line, with the young Anthony Castonzo as the only guy that really belongs as a starter. The rest? Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn, Joe Reitz, Jeffrey Linkenbach, Winston Justice, A.Q. Shipley, you name it. Justice was the only one in that group that wasn’t a complete butcher, but we’ve seen enough Winston Justice to know who he is. Football Outsiders ranked the Colts’ offensive line in the bottom-half of the league in both run blocking and pass protection.
Translation? An overhaul is in short order here.
The Colts are picking 24th in the first round, and, although there are also several big-time positions of need on defense, seeing them take an O-lineman in the first round wouldn’t be a shock, either. Someone like Alabama’s Barrett Jones, North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and perhaps Kentucky guard Larry Warford are a few options.
Indy could also stand to upgrade at running back. Rookie Vick Ballard showed some promise last season, but Donald Brown, a former first-round pick, is an unexplosive back/injury waiting to happen. They won’t address this need high in the draft, and rightfully so, but look for them to either shop for something on the free agent market (which is ripe with solid players this spring) or pick someone up late in the draft.
Lack of depth in the receiving corps is also an area of concern. Reggie Wayne will turn 35 midway through next season, and, even coming off of his spectacular 2012 season, the clock is certainly ticking on him.
Another rookie, T.Y. Hilton, really came on late in the year and looks like he has the potential to be a big-time playmaker in this offense. Even Donnie Avery quietly enjoyed a strong year. That said, Hilton and Avery are each sub-six-foot speedsters, far from the big, physical guy you’d normally think of as your No. 1 receiver.
Like with running back, the free agent class of wide receivers should be pretty strong, headlined by Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, who could be of some appeal to the Colts. If they don’t opt to go down that road, a few later-round prospects that fit the bill are Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers and Marshall’s Aaron Dobson.
Defense: CB, DT, LB, S
Vontae Davis was a solid preseason pick up for the Colts coming over in a trade from the Dolphins, but across the way, the rest of the Colts pass coverers struggled throughout the season. It’s so dire a need that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them jump on a corner with pick No. 24. Washington’s Desmond Trufant (brother of Marcus!) may be available for them at that spot. Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes may be another prospect to watch here, though he may be a bit of a reach with a first-round selection.
Indianapolis was also one of the league’s worst teams in terms of stopping the run. In fact, they ranked dead-last.
We know they have very productive veteran pass rushers on the edge in Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, but the interior of their line straight-up sucks (sorry, Fili Moala). This would be another area in which the Colts would be wise to use one of their higher draft choices. The back end of the first round is ripe with interior defensive line types, such as Georgia’s John Jenkins, Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins, LSU’s Bennie Logan and Kawann Short out of Purdue. The first two, Jenkins and Hankins, may be more proper fits as nose tackles for Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 unit. They could also probably upgrade a bit at defensive end.
The aforementioned Freeney is still a solid player, but he will be a free agent, and his production slightly declined last year as he made the move from 4-3 end to 3-4 rush linebacker. They spent a first-round pick on TCU’s Jerry Hughes a few years back, but, like with Donald Brown, he’s been a bust pick thus far.
Unless one of the higher-rated guys somehow slips all they way down to No. 24 (like Barkevious Mingo or someone), they’ll probably address this later in the draft, as it has more to do with depth than immediate need. Texas A&M’s Sean Porter, Florida State’s Brandon Jenkins and Stanford’s Chase Thomas are a few mid-round prospects that may interest Indianapolis.
Joe Lefeged was solid after replacing Tom Zbikowski across from Antoine Bethea at safety, but he may not be a starting-caliber player, either. Expect the Colts to look to fill that void at some point, as well.