This week, general manager Chris Ballard reiterated yet again that the Indianapolis Colts draft approach will be to draft the best player available. Teams will always have needs, but they must not sacrifice taking premium players just to fill immediate needs. With that said, we turn to our next round of rankings. Today, I rank the top options that the Colts may have in the third round. Best player available circumvents need.
1. Kareem Hunt | Running Back | Toledo | 5-10, 216 pounds
The Colts need a running back for the future, plain and simple. Frank Gore will play this season at 34 years old, and Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson are the only other backs under contract. Unless someone like Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon or Christian McCaffery becomes available to the Colts in Round 2, taking Hunt in Round 3 may be the best value for the Colts. Hunt appears to be a ready, three-down back – he is a productive, slippery runner, and he is capable in the passing game, both as a blocker and pass-catcher.
2. Fabian Moreau | Cornerback | UCLA | 6-0, 206 pounds
Moreau was flirting with a first-round grade before tearing a pectoral muscle at his pro day. And, the only reason the injury would drop him to the third round is because a Lisfranc foot injury cost him his 2015 season. Moreau looked great in 2016, however, staying in receivers’ hip pockets and showing tremendous athleticism. The Colts need help in the secondary desperately. They are a season-ending injury to Vontae Davis away from making Rashaan Melvin the CB1. The Colts face Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Sammy Watkins and Doug Baldwin in 2017, as well as Allen Robinson and DeAndre Hopkins twice each.
3. Derek Rivers | Edge Defender | Youngstown State | 6-4, 248 pounds
You can never have too many pass-rushers in the NFL. No matter what the Colts have done in free agency or in the first couple of rounds in the draft, taking pass-rushers is never off of the table. Rivers would be a terrific option for the Colts on Day 2. Even if he is not ready to start right off of the bat, he can rotate in as a designated pass-rusher with Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and Akeem Ayers.
4. Marcus Maye | Safety | Florida | 6-0, 210 pounds
Since studying Maye, I have found a way to work him into a good chunk of my draft coverage. He is a safe, ready, do-it-all safety. He can play in the box, in the slot or in deep coverage. He’s not the center-fielder that Malik Hooker or Marcus Williams are, but if you can imagine a much younger version of former Colts safety Mike Adams, that’s what I see in Maye. The Colts need security at the safety position. Darius Butler is 31 and both he and Clayton Geathers find themselves frequently dealing with injuries. Also, T.J. Green was not ready for the sizeable role that he was forced into in 2016.
5. Tarell Basham | Edge Defender | Ohio | 6-4, 269 pounds
Basham is another quality pass-rusher that the Colts could set their sights on. He wins with power and subtle pass-rush moves rather than sheer agility. He has the ability to play the run as well, so he could make a good candidate to set up shop at strong-side outside linebacker. Basham racked up 42.5 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks while at Ohio.
6. Desmond King | Safety/Nickel | Iowa | 5-10, 201 pounds
King was a lockdown corner in college but his lack of deep speed will almost certainly force him into a nickel and/or safety role in the NFL. Wherever he lands, the Colts could certainly use his services. They lack a nickel since Butler converted to safety, and we have already discussed the Colts’ need at safety. King could be a tremendous ballhawk for the Colts, having intercepted 14 passes and broken up 33 others at Iowa.
7. Teez Tabor | Cornerback | Florida | 6-0, 199 pounds
I expect Tabor to be a steep faller in the draft. He may not even be lucky enough for it to end in Round 3. Before the Combine and his pro day, he was considered a first-rounder. He had some issues with speed on tape but it was made worse by how badly he tested (4.62 forty at Combine, 4.75 at pro day). They were the kind of workouts that make you go back and watch more, and there are plenty of red flags. Right off of the bat, I do not like how much cushion Tabor gives outside receivers. How often he does it is a sign of weakness. With that being said, he was a very good player at Florida. There is no denying that. Tabor could perhaps play inside at the nickel or make the switch to safety. He has good ball skills, is physical with receivers and gets his nose dirty in tackling.
8. Corn Elder | Cornerback | Miami (FL) | 5-10, 183 pounds
Elder has one big flaw – his size. In a day and age where the prototypical receiver is getting bigger, a 5-10 cornerback is a bad sign. However, if he was 6-0, he’d be getting more love. Elder sticks to his man, he is both fast and quick, tough and he tackles. He will likely start out in the nickel but could prove to become a reliable outside corner.
9. Ahkello Witherspoon | Cornerback | Colorado | 6-3, 198 pounds
Witherspoon is basically the inverse of Elder. Witherspoon has tremendous size and speed but doesn’t play that way. He is great in coverage but struggles with tackling. I can’t even say that he is a poor tackler because that would insinuate that he tries. A somewhat disturbing trait that I have noticed with many members of the draft-eligible Colorado defensive backs is their unwillingness to scrap it up and get tough, Witherspoon included. They do not look to hit people or tackle unless they absolutely have to. Otherwise, they avoid contact.
10. Isaac Asiata | Offensive Guard | Utah | 6-3, 323 pounds
There is likely going to be an offensive lineman taken by the Colts at some point in this draft, so they might as well make it a good one. Asiata is both a good pass protector and run blocker, but his movement skills aren’t all that. When he gets to be in the confines of the line of scrimmage, he is a mauler. The Colts are expected to have an open competition on the starting right side of the offensive line in training camp. Asiata could sneak in and steal a spot at right guard.
Jake Arthur is the AFC South Division Manager, Indianapolis Colts Team Manager, Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS on Twitter as well as on Facebook. Check out his other work HERE.