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2017 NFL Draft, Indianapolis Colts: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

2017 NFL Draft Reset: Colts on youth movement

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws under pressure from the New Orleans Saints during the first half of play at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, October 25, 2015. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws under pressure from the New Orleans Saints during the first half of play at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, October 25, 2015. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

With the hiring of Chris Ballard as the Indianapolis Colts' new general manager, there is a new focus on retooling the team's overall roster to get younger on both sides of the football.

Eight players 29 years old or older retired, were released or were not re-signed. Seven of those were defensive players.

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Ballard opted not to re-sign several of the team's veteran free agents, preferring to concentrate on signing younger available veteran free agents from other teams while also taking direct aim on the upcoming draft.

Of the Colts' nine unrestricted free agents, only tight end Jack Doyle, cornerback turned safety Darius Butler and running back Robert Turbin were given new contracts.

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Both restricted free agents, offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison and defensive lineman Zach Kerr, will be back. Exclusive rights free agent tight end Erik Swoope is being counted on to be big part of the Colts' offensive game plan.

As for roster additions, Ballard has been busy.

The Colts brought in linebackers Jabaal Sheard (New England), John Simon (Houston), Sean Spence and Barkevious Mingo (New England); nose tackle Al Woods (Tennessee); defensive end Margus Hunt (Cincinnati); offensive lineman Brian Schwenke (Tennessee); punter Jeff Locke (Minnesota); wide receiver Kamar Aiken (Baltimore); and tight end Brandon Williams (Seattle).

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Additional personnel moves are probable. In fact, don't be surprised if Indianapolis decides to trade down from the 15th pick in the first round in an attempt to add more draft picks.

Here is a closer look at where the Colts are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, No.15 overall.

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THE BREAKDOWN

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

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)

TEAM NEEDS

1. Edge rusher/linebacker: Still the top need for a Colts defense that is currently in remodel mode. Indianapolis lost franchise sack leader Robert Mathis to retirement and did not re-sign UFA Erik Walden. Finding a young outside rush linebacker in the first round would be a plus.

2. Cornerback: The Colts released 2016 veteran free-agent signee Patrick Robinson, who has since been added to the Philadelphia roster. Veteran Pro Bowl performer Vontae Davis returned, but he has been bothered by injury and inconsistency issues. Adding an athletic, play-making cornerback somewhere in the first three rounds is the plan for now.

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3. Running back: Veterans Frank Gore and Robert Turbin will be back for 2017. Indianapolis would like to find the eventual heir apparent to Gore in this year's draft. The Colts, though, are not expected to address the running back situation until the middle to later rounds. That plan could change if the right running back drops into their laps earlier in the draft.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

S/CB Darius Butler: UFA; $3M/1 yr, $1.5M SB/$2.5M guaranteed.

TE Jack Doyle: Potential UFA; $18.9M/3 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed.

RB Robert Turbin: UFA; $2.7M/2 yrs, $500K guaranteed.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

WR Kamar Aiken: UFA Ravens; 1 yr, terms unknown.

LB Margus Hunt: UFA Bengals; $4.1M/2 yrs, $500K guaranteed.

P Jeff Locke: UFA Vikings; $3.45M/2 yrs, $1.25M guaranteed.

LB Barkevious Mingo: UFA Patriots; $2M/1 yr, $500K SB.

C/G Brian Schwenke: UFA Titans; $1.3M/1 yr, $300K SB.

DE Jabaal Sheard: UFA Patriots; $25.5M/3 yrs, $12.75M guaranteed, $7M injury only at time of signing.

LB John Simon: UFA Texans; $17M/3 yrs.

LB Sean Spence: UFA Titans; $2.5M/1 yr, $750 SB.

TE Brandon Williams: UFA Seahawks; $855K/1 yr, $80K SB.

DT Al Woods: FA Titans; $5M/2 yrs.

PLAYERS LOST

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S Mike Adams: UFA Panthers; $4.2M/2 yrs, $650K SB/$1.15M guaranteed.

TE Dwayne Allen (traded Patriots).

LB Chris Carter: UFA Redskins; $855K/1 yr, $80K SB.

C/G Jonotthan Harrison: Not tendered as RFA/Jets; terms unknown.

LB D'Qwell Jackson (released).

DT Arthur Jones (released).

DT Zach Kerr: Not tendered as RFA/Broncos; $3.25M/2 yrs, $500K SB/$1.5M guaranteed.

OLB Robert Mathis (retired).

P Pat McAfee (retired).

LB Josh McNary: Not tendered as ERFA/Jaguars; terms unknown.

T/G Joe Reitz (retired).

CB Patrick Robinson (released).

G Hugh Thornton: UFA Falcons; $690K/1 yr.

MOCK DRAFT

NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 15 overall)

Rob Rang:

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. Sure, adding a defender would appear to make the most sense, but injecting the speed and playmaking ability of McCaffrey into a backfield currently built around steady (but slow) veterans Frank Gore and Robert Turbin could be precisely what the Colts need to spark a return to the playoffs.

Dane Brugler:

Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. Coming from Kansas City, new Colts general manager Chris Ballard understands the impact of speed on defense and that is exactly what Reddick offers. He can line up inside or outside and give position flexibility to drop in coverage or blitz.

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Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team's current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.

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