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Indianapolis Colts: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017

By The Sports Xchange
Indianapolis Colts: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017
Indianapolis Colts holder Pat McAfee (1) takes off on a fake field goal as kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) looks on in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on December 24, 2016. The Raiders won 33-25 but lost QB Derek Carr to a broken fibula. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Indianapolis Colts breakdown: Free agency, draft shopping list

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As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine (March 1-6), the Indianapolis Colts must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve upon their 8-8 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Colts' roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and to reference during the Combine.

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There is new leadership with general manager Chris Ballard replacing Ryan Grigson, though Chuck Pagano remains the head coach. Ballard will be charged with forging a working relationship with Pagano while finding the talent to lift the Colts from two consecutive .500 seasons.

With outside linebacker Robert Mathis retiring, the pass rush has to be addressed, along with the secondary. Another question is how long running back Frank Gore can continue playing at a high level.

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THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 3rd in AFC South (8-8)

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STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 364.4 (10th)

RUSHING: 101.8 (23rd)

PASSING: 262.6 (T5th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 382.9 (30th)

RUSHING: 120.4 (25th)

PASSING: 262.5 (27th)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

TOP THREE NEEDS

PASS RUSHING OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

The Colts need to find an athletic outside pass rusher. Indianapolis tried free agents there in 2016, but the team needs to find a long-term solution.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Chandler Jones, Arizona (27, $2.04M)

Nick Perry, Green Bay (27 in April, $5.05M)

Melvin Ingram, L.A. Chargers (28 in April, $2.1M)

DeMarcus Ware, Denver (35 in July, $10M)

Julius Peppers, Green Bay (37, $8.67M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/18 Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt, 6-3, 230, 4.74, 1 (underclassman)

2/26 Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, 6-2, 258, 4.58, 1

3/27 Tim Williams, Alabama, 6-3, 252, 4.76, 1

4/31 Haason Reddick, Temple, 6-1, 237, 4.54, 1-2

5/48 T.J. Watt, Wisconsin, 6-4, 243, 4.76, 2 (underclassman)

INSIDE LINEBACKER

The Colts tried a couple of young inside linebackers in 2016, but the team needs more athletic playmakers at the position.

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UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Dont'a Hightower, New England (27 in March, $1.93M)

Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh (31 in May, $9.6M)

Malcolm Smith, Oakland (28 in July, $3.5M)

Akeem Dent, Houston (30 in September, $2.25M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/7 Reuben Foster, Alabama, 6-1, 236, 4.72, 1

2/41 Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, 6-2, 240, 4.78, 2 (underclassman)

3/44 Jarrad Davis, Florida, 6-1, 238, 4.78, 2

4/108 Anthony Walker Jr., Northwestern, 6-1, 235, 4.63, 3-4 (underclassman)

5/112 Kendell Beckwith, LSU, 6-2, 252, 4.82, 3-4

CORNERBACK

Indianapolis has struck out with a couple of free agent additions at the position. The Colts need a physical, play-making cornerback.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

A.J. Bouye, Houston (26 in August, $1.67M)

Trumaine Johnson, L.A. Rams (27, $13.95M)

Logan Ryan, New England (26, $693K)

Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo (27 in September, $3.02M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

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1/10 Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State, 6-0, 195, 4.47, 1 (underclassman)

2/15 Teez Tabor, Florida, 6-0, 201, 4.50, 1 (underclassman)

3/21 Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, 6-1, 196, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)

4/23 Sidney Jones, Washington, 6-0, 181, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)

5/34 Desmond King, Iowa, 5-11, 206, 4.53, 1-2

UFA KEEPERS

LB Erik Walden (32 in August, $4M)

S Mike Adams (36 in March, $2.425M)

ROSTER REVIEW

DEPTH CHART

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.

* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.

& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Andrew Luck. Backup -- Scott Tolzien.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Frank Gore. Backups -- Josh Ferguson, Jordan Todman, Robert Turbin (UFA).

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Dwayne Allen. Backups -- Jack Doyle (UFA), *Mike Miller, Erik Swoope.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief. Backups -- Phillip Dorsett, Chester Rogers.

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OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Anthony Castonzo, *RG Jack Mewhort, C Ryan Kelly, RG Joe Haeg, LT Le'Raven Clark. Backups -- T Pierce Burton, C Austin Blythe, *T Isiah Cage, G Denzelle Good, Jonotthan Harrison, T Joe Reitz, *Hugh Thornton (UFA), Jeremy Vujnovich.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- *DE Kendall Langford, *DT Arthur Jones, DT David Parry. Backups -- DT Henry Anderson, NT Zach Kerr, DT T.Y. McGill, DT Kelcy Quarles, DT Hassan Ridgeway, DE Kristjan Sokoli.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- OLB Robert Mathis (UFA/retired), *&ILB D'Qwell Jackson, ILB Edwin Jackson, OLB Erik Walden (UFA). Backups -- OLB Akeem Ayers, OLB Chris Carter, OLB Trent Cole (UFA), ILB Deon King, *OLB Curt Maggitt, ILB Josh McNary, ILB Antonio Morrison, OLB Deiontrez Mount, ILB Luke Rhodes.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Vontae Davis, S Mike Adams (UFA), S T.J. Green, CB Rashaan Melvin. Backups -- CB Darius Butler (UFA), S Matthias Farley, *S Clayton Geathers, CB Charles James, CB Chris Milton, CB Darryl Morris (UFA), *CB Patrick Robinson, *CB Frankie Williams, *S Andrew Williamson.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Adam Vinatieri, P Pat McAfee, KOR Jordan Todman, PR Chester Rogers, LS Matt Overton.

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