Draft season is upon us, and with it, my first Indianapolis Colts mock draft of 2017.
Colts fans, it’s been an up and down past few months. The team underachieved down the stretch, missing the playoffs. Then, Public Enemy No. 1, Ryan Grigson, was fired. In his place, the top general manager candidate on the market was hired in former Kansas City Chiefs director of football operations, Chris Ballard.
After that, it was Cloud 9 as the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots, 28-3, in Super Bowl 51. And then, a crash back down to earth again after the Pats put together their predictable comeback victory. After washing off the general sense of football sickness, it is time to pour full concentration into free agency and the draft. Happier times!
***The Colts are projected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick for the free-agent loss of tight end Coby Fleener last offseason. Compensatory picks will be officially announced at the Scouting Combine in two weeks. The Colts also currently do not have a seventh-round pick in 2017 due to a 2015 trade with the Cleveland Browns for defensive lineman Billy Winn***
Takkarist McKinley | Edge Defender | UCLA | 6’2″, 258lbs
I had Alabama pass-rusher Tim Williams here initially but made a last-minute swap for Takkarist McKinley. I do still really like Williams as a prospect and would welcome him with the Colts’ first-round pick, but this is more about McKinley than anything. In my most recent Colts Big Board, you will find that I have moved McKinley into my No. 2 spot. This is based on forecasting his potential as a complete player and overall game-wrecker.
McKinley has the potential to develop into not just a pass-rusher, but a player who can set the edge as well. Not only do the Colts need help critically on the edges because of no pass-rush, but they also have a lackluster run defense.
Haason Reddick | Inside Linebacker | Temple | 6’1″, 237lbs
Haason Reddick was an edge defender in college, but a strong showing as an off-ball linebacker during Senior Bowl week opens up possibilities for both he and teams like the Colts. The Colts need inside linebacker help, especially after letting Jerrell Freeman walk in free agency last offseason. A player who could develop into a Freeman-type clone is Reddick himself.
Because of his naturally athletic body and what we’ve seen, Reddick appears to be a player who could be fluid in coverage. Though he played on the edge in college, he had enough responsibilities outside of rushing the passer that should make this a smooth transition for him. He also has very good read-reaction skills.
Eddie Jackson | Safety | Alabama | 6’0″, 194lbs
There is too much uncertainty in the Colts’ safety group for them to do nothing about it this offseason. Between Mike Adams and Darius Butler facing free agency and T.J. Green still needing time to develop, the Colts need some reliability at the position, and Eddie Jackson could provide that.
Jackson missed half of 2016 after breaking his leg, but he did not have much left to prove anyhow. With a cornerback background, he has displayed decent cover and tracking ability in his career. Plus, as is required of any Nick Saban-coached defender, toughness and tackling are key. The Colts get a tough, well-rounded safety here.
Fabian Moreau | Cornerback | UCLA | 6’0″, 205lbs
Throwing the cornerbacks into it, the Colts’ entire secondary is a question mark. Starting outside corners Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson are consistently injured, and neither plays well while hurt. Fabian Moreau needs some time to develop, but head coach Chuck Pagano is pretty good at getting the most out of defensive backs. Moreau transitioned from running back and spent much of 2015 hurt, which hampered his collegiate development. However, he did show improvement in 2016 when he was on the field.
Kareem Hunt | Running Back | Toledo | 5’10”, 208lbs
Much of #ColtsTwitter are members of the #KareemHuntHive by now, and I’ll count myself among the crowd. Every year, there seems to be some mid-round running back that comes out and takes the league by storm. Hunt is a compelling candidate, potentially becoming this year’s Jordan Howard.
Hunt has a well-rounded game, able to catch as well as pass protect. He has dealt with some injuries, which actually makes coming to Indianapolis an ideal scenario for him. The Colts have Frank Gore under contract for one more year, so they don’t need a new starting running back right now. What they can do, though, is pepper Hunt into the mix with Gore, giving Hunt time to get the feel of the pro game while also not overexerting himself into injury.
Daeshon Hall | Edge Defender | Texas A&M | 6’5″, 265lbs
Not the Aggies edge defender every Colts fan would dream of having, but Myles Garrett’s book-end, Daeshon Hall, is a really quality edge option for the Colts on Day 3. People don’t seem to know what to make of Hall yet. Is he a five-tech in a 3-4, a three-tech in a 4-3? I have him going to the Colts as a strong side outside linebacker.
Erik Walden currently fills that spot for the Colts, but he is a 31-year-old free agent who is much closer to the 3.0 sacks per year that he averaged for most of his career than the 11.0 that he put up in 2016.
Austin Rehkow | Punter | Idaho | 6’3″, 205lbs
I hate making this pick, but it’s necessary if the Colts don’t sign a new punter/kickoff specialist in free agency. When Pat McAfee retired, it left multiple holes on the Colts’ special teams unit. McAfee was not only a Pro-Bowl punter and high-quality kickoff specialist, but he also held on extra point and field goal attempts. Plus, he was trusted with audibling into trick plays and onside kicks.
Rehkow is the highest-rated punter in the draft. He was also Idaho’s kicker and kickoff specialist. If there’s a specialist in the draft that can be multi-dimensional like McAfee, it’s Rehkow.
This mock draft does accomplish several things for the Colts, though there are some things left out.
McKinley and Hall add two pass-rushers to the defense. Plus, an inside linebacker in Reddick who was also an edge defender in college. The collective linebacker corps gets some much-needed love. The secondary also gets some reinforcements with a couple of players who could step in and play soon if needed. There’s not much to worry about with Jackson and Moreau.
I would have liked to put a Day 2 defensive lineman in here, but the Colts will live otherwise. I believe they will re-sign Zach Kerr, plus they will be getting Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford back healthy. The trio teams up with Hassan Ridgeway, David Parry and T.Y. McGill. The Colts could also use a late-round offensive lineman. However, this is an extremely shallow class, and it’s not a critical need after drafting four linemen in 2016. You could also make a case that the Colts need a new nickel if Butler is not re-signed or re-signs back as a safety.
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, Google+ and FanCred. Check out his other work HERE.