In anticipation of the NFL Scouting Combine returning to Lucas Oil Stadium this week, it’s time to throw some names around of players the Indianapolis Colts might be keeping an eye on.
This is the first in a three-story installment on the players the Colts should be looking at. Like every other NFL team, the Colts aren’t going to share insight on this six-day process of working out players, getting them tested and sitting down for interviews.
So this is an educated guess, beginning with players on the offensive side of the ball.
On offense, the Colts’ needs are obvious: Offensive line, running back and wide receiver, and not necessarily in that order. What is most important is subject for debate, but this much is usually true about the NFL Draft, a certain number of skill players go rather high.
Because the Colts pick 29th out of 32 teams, barring a trade we can eliminate some of the most-publicized prospects. What’s always a guessing game is who could fall to the Colts that might be rated higher on their draft board?
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has always said he looks to draft the best NFL-ready player available, not the highest-rated player available to fill the most important need. That’s why mock drafts and suggestions typically miss on players suggested.
There are a lot of promising running backs in this draft, enough that one will be available in the second through fourth rounds, should they go that direction. While many typically don’t get drafted in the first round, it’s fair to say a few likely go.
That said, we’ll rank the order of position importance on offense at offensive line, wide receiver and running back.
On the offensive line, it’s probably unrealistic to expect Iowa guard Brandon Scherff (fifth in our overall player rankings), Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat (12th) LSU guard La’el Collins (14th) or even Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (19th) to fall to the end of the first round. Never say never, but the Colts will give these guys their due diligence and check them out.
After that, the list of offensive linemen who should be on the Colts’ radar because of their expected availability with the 29th pick are Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings (29th), South Carolina guard A.J. Cann (30th), Florida State center Cameron Erving (31st), Auburn center Reese Dismukes (41st), Colorado State offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo (42nd), Utah offensive tackle Jeremiah Poutasi (45th), Duke guard Laken Tomlinson (46th), Florida State guard Tre' Jackson (63rd) and Louisville guard John Miller (66th) and Oregon offensive tackle Jake Fisher (70th).
Moving onto wide receiver, the Colts have T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and rookie Duron Carter. Because of how the Colts got pushed around in the trenches in their 45-7 AFC Championship Game loss at New England, fans might be upset if the first pick isn’t used on a lineman, but should they decide to grab a wide receiver, here are some of the guys they will be watching closely.
Barring a trade, forget about Alabama’s Amari Cooper (Scout’s second-ranked player), Louisville’s DeVante Parker (15th), West Virginia’s Kevin White (17th) and probably Oklahoma’s Dorial Green-Beckham (24th).
After that, the list of guys the Colts should be watching closely for a possible first- or second-round selection are Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong (27th), Ohio State’s Devin Smith (32nd), Auburn’s Sammie Coates (34th), Michigan’s Devin Funchess (35th), Fresno State’s Josh Harper (51st), USC’s Nelson Agholor (62nd), Duke’s Jamison Crowder (67th) and Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett (79th).
When thinking wide receiver, think size. Hilton and Moncrief have speed and Moncrief some size, but if the Colts don’t re-sign Reggie Wayne, they could value a stronger receiver who won’t get jammed at the line of scrimmage.
Georgia’s Todd Gurley is coming off an injury, but has incredible upside. He’s been ranked high in some mock drafts, but is listed 23rd in our rankings, so it’s possible he could drop. Perhaps not likely, but possible.
Indiana’s Tevin Coleman (40th) might drop due to conditioning concerns, but he’s got a ton of talent. The other possibilities are Miami’s Duke Johnson (52nd), Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah (54th), Boise State’s Jay Ajayi (61st), Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon (71st), Northern Iowa’s David Johnson (88th) and Minnesota’s David Cobb (97th).
Johnson and Cobb were particularly impressive at the recent Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.