- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Colts should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Defensive Line
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus featured a strong package of fire zone blitzes last year, many involving unheralded star corner Kenny Moore from the slot. Eberflus also drew raves for some of his zone coverage disguises. Still, the Colts’ main identity is simple, straightforward zone coverage, with an emphasis on sound execution. It’s remarkable they were able to establish and build on this style in 2018 considering they had no fearsome pass rushers. They can’t count on getting away with that again. Adding ex-Chief Justin Houston in what’s likely a 30-snaps-a-game role was a good first step, but they still must fill the rotation around him. The jury is still out on last year’s second-round defensive ends, Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis. At defensive tackle, aside from Denico Autry, the Colts don’t have a natural 3-technique. (And they might not even view Autry in this light given that they aligned him at one of their two nose-shade positions on base downs last year.) When the Colts are on the clock, they must take whichever remaining defensive lineman has the best initial step. That’s key in their four-man rush concepts, which are based on penetration, stunting and slanting.
Hidden Need: Wide Receiver
Signing Devin Funchess to a one-year, incentives-laden contract doesn’t fully address Indy’s bereft wide receiver position. Besides the fact that Funchess, who is a favorite of head coach Frank Reich’s and got paid more than double what many expected, might not work out (he didn’t in Carolina), you still need depth behind him and options should you be unable to re-sign him after this season. It’s borderline shocking the Colts didn’t find a way to retain Dontrelle Inman, a razor-sharp route runner who showed excellent chemistry with Andrew Luck. Maybe they feel they can find a younger version of Inman in this draft.
Also Looking For: Defensive Back
The starting unit is fine, but No. 4 corner is a position of concern—especially considering that you’re one injury away from that player seeing 65 percent of the snaps as your No. 3. And it wouldn’t hurt to find a replacement for departed dime safety Mike Mitchell.
Who They Can Get
Could Clemson DT Christian Wilkins slip to the late first round? He'd be an ideal fit in Indy, and if the Colts are in love they have the ammo to move up considering they own the No. 34 pick from the Jets. This is also a potential landing spot for Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons, a top-five talent in this draft who will miss all of 2019 after tearing his ACL. The edge players who would still be on the board are pure edge rusher Brian Burns of Florida State, as well as solid but less dynamic options like Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson. They'll also have their choice of big-bodied wideouts to push Funchess, with A.J. Brown of Ole Miss, N'Keal Harry of Arizona State, and/or Hakeem Butler of Iowa State likely to be on the board in the late first/early second. You wonder if a long corner like Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson will appeal to them due to his long-term ceiling.
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