As the names keep coming off the NFL Draft board, it sure seems as if the Indianapolis Colts are going to land a projected first-round pick in the second round.
That was the thought process during Scout’s Mock Draft, where publishers made selections for their NFL teams.
Kansas State offensive guard Cody Whitehair, considered one of the best at his position, appeared to be falling to the Colts with the 48th overall selection.
But then … no. The New Orleans Saints grabbed him one spot before the Colts were on the clock.
Plan B was to look at the Colts’ needs, which might not be how general manager Ryan Grigson looks at it. He’s always said the draft is about taking the best player available, regardless of position, because teams need NFL-ready players.
Because my first-round mock pick was center Ryan Kelly, it would seem necessary to draft defense in the second round. Yeah, Whitehair is offense and he almost fell to the Colts, but that would have shored up the O-line after taking Kelly.
Looking at the pass rushers available, it sure appears to be as Grigson suggested at February’s NFL Scouting Combine — kind of thin. It didn’t make sense to select a reach player in the second round, so what else do the Colts need?
The free-agent departure of inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman prompted a prospect search for his position. Of the inside linebackers available, Missouri’s Kentrell Brothers stood out as a tackle machine and second-round prospect. He was compared by one reviewer to Colts leading tackler D'Qwell Jackson.
That resonated. Jackson is 32 and has two years remaining on his contract. If Brothers pans out, the Colts successfully replace Freeman with a guy who could eventually become the defensive leader, Jackson’s role now.
Some will ask about inside linebacker Nate Irving, who the Colts brought in a year ago from Denver. Irving was unable to show much in his first season after rehabbing from knee surgery. He’ll have every chance to win that job in 2016, but it’s fair to say there’s uncertainty at the position. If he’s never the same, the Colts will cut their losses with him after this season.
While the Colts still need to address other areas in addition to an outside linebacker pass rusher — running back, cornerback or defensive tackle come to mind — shoring up the inside linebacker spot made the most sense.
Right after taking Brothers, another guy given serious consideration was taken with the next pick, UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark. A tempting pass-rush pick was Boise State outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, who went at No. 51 to the New York Jets.
One other thought about the second round. Notre Dame center Nick Martin was taken with the 60th pick by the New England Patriots. If the Colts don’t draft Kelly, my selection, they could address center in the second round with Martin.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.