2018 NFL Draft: How Colts should use newfound picks

By Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com  |  March 18, 2018 at 3:05 PM
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Let's measure the seismic shift from Saturday's trade in which the Indianapolis Colts grabbed four picks in the NFL Draft from the New York Jets.

To do so, the Colts agreed only to drop from No. 3 to No. 6 in the first round. According to our official draft abacus, they slip down three spots to net two more picks in the top 49, totaling four in that span. (They also get a 2019 second-round pick.)

At first, as usual, this put immediate attention on that No. 3 spot the Colts gave the Jets, with the focus on the annual tradition of somebody moving up to target some specific player, usually a quarterback.

And, yes, if the Jets can solve this century's quagmire at quarterback with that pick, it will be draft capital well spent from the perspective of New York general manager Mike Maccagan and head coach Todd Bowles.

As for the Colts, franchise quarterback Andrew Luck is apparently on the mend -- still or again, depending on one's perspective -- and they now have four of the first 49 picks in this draft.

General manager Chris Ballard put the Colts in position to be big winners, right? If so, who are the prospects that Ballard and new head coach Frank Reich might target with pick No's. 6, 36, 37 and 49?

Speaking for NFLDraftScout.com, I will provide an educated guess with three candidates and a rationale for each pick.

--No. 6 overall: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Rationale: Excluding the quarterbacks, Nelson is almost universally regarded as one of the five best players in the draft. His brawling style and durability would be welcome additions to a Colts' line flush with talent but lacking health, and therefore, consistency.

Other options at No. 6 include Alabama's heady, versatile defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick or gambling on the upside of Virginia Tech's terrifically toolsy Tremaine Edmunds.

--No. 36 overall: Ronald Jones, RB, Southern California

Rationale: Ask the folks in Jacksonville (Leonard Fournette), Kansas City (Kareem Hunt) or New Orleans (Alvin Kamara), few positions can spark a playoff run like a playmaking running back. Jones, a terrific all-around back with track speed, is perfectly suited to today's up-tempo RPO offenses.

Several other top-rated running backs highlight the Colts' top options at No. 36. Frankly, any of the top seven backs on NFLDraftScout.com's RB rankings would be a significant upgrade at a position the club should reinforce to protect Luck.

Beyond that, a blue-collar edge rusher like Ohio State's Sam Hubbard would help the Colts' transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment. A long, physical corner like Auburn's Carlton Davis would be another good fit.

--No. 37 overall: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Rationale: Whether the Colts take advantage of the better value at receiver on Day Two than in the first round or not, Indianapolis is going to feature a lot of inexperience at receiver next season. Other than star T.Y. Hilton, there is not a receiver on the roster with a single NFL touchdown reception. The 6-3, 218-pound Sutton is a proven weapon in the red zone with the sharp route-running and soft hands to quickly became a QB favorite.

Fellow wideout James Washington from Oklahoma State is another polished pass catcher who would be a good value at No. 37. The Colts could go back to the Stanford well with tackle-happy tough guy Harrison Phillips, a 6-3, 307-pounder who finished first in the bench press at the Combine (42 repetitions of 225 pounds) and more importantly, led the nation's defensive linemen in tackles last season with an incredible 100 stops.

--No. 49 overall: Rasheem Green, DE, Southern California

Rationale: The Colts ranked 31st in the NFL a year ago in sacks, recording just 25 in 16 games (the Bucs had 22), in part prompting the switch to a 4-3 base. Generating more of a pass rush would be a lot easier with a toolsy prospect like Green, a 6-4, 275-pounder who registered 10 sacks in the Pac-12 last season and appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential.

Green checks in at 50th on NFLDraftScout.com's overall rankings, although the lack of talented pass rushers in the draft and free agency could push him up the board on draft day. There is terrific value at three other positions of concern -- interior OL, RB and WR -- the Colts addressed in this exercise, which is why Indianapolis looks like a potentially big winner in this trade. Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett and Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver are two other schematic fits with second-round values.

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