While polling Twitter about some ideal Colts draft picks this year, I was given some insight by Colts fan Kyle Rapoza:
@coltsauth_kyle i think an ILB like Ogeltree or A.Brown are possible too. angerer and conner are FA next year— Kyle Rapoza (@kyler11) April 5, 2013
So often we think of team needs and draft priorities in terms of the glaring holes for the coming year, but a good GM knows that the draft is how you build for the future. With the Colts' activity in free agency, there no longer are glaring holes in the starting lineup (although I'm still not satisfied with the starters at RG, C, and OLB), but rather a lack of top-end, elite talent across the board.
There are several positions that could use an upgrade in talent right away, such as defensive line, guard, or outside linebacker, there are several positions that will be begging for talent after this season, and it's important that they don't get overlooked simply because they'll be taken care of for 2012. So, lets take a look at the positions which will be losing the most in 2014.
2014 Free Agents: Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner, Scott Lutrus
We may as well start with the position that sparked my thought process. With Angerer and Conner as free agents next year, and neither one being top talent, the Colts very well could go into the 2014 offseason with just Jerrell Freeman (right) and Mario Harvey on the roster. If someone like Arthur Brown falls to the #24, and they feel like he is a long-term star at the position, we very well could see a surprise pick.
2014 Free Agents: Antoine Bethea, Joe Lefeged
The Colts have LaRon Landry as a long term starter, but they'll need another starter with two of their top three safeties free agents. Bethea has been a quality starter since he was drafted in 2006, but the new regime doesn't have any loyalties to Bethea, and he turns 30 next summer. The Colts very well could let him try his luck in free agency, and they'll need a dynamic replacement to hold the secondary together (I don't trust Landry at all). It was for this reason that my ideal draft pick is Jonathan Cyprien, the game-changing safety from Florida International.
2014 Free Agents: Vontae Davis, Sergio Brown, Josh Gordy, Cassius Vaughn
Greg Toler and Darius Butler are signed on for multiple years, but outside of that the Colts' cornerback group is a short term fix. Davis could get resigned or extended before that happens, but it's not a guarantee. Either way, the Colts could use a lock down corner to put in their top four, which is why Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant have been mentioned as possible targets for the Colts' first rounder.
2014 Free Agents: Joe Reitz, Mike McGlynn, Jeff Linkenbach
The Colts know that their long term answer at guard isn't on the roster. Donald Thomas makes a nice addition to start at one spot (likely left guard in 2012), but the other spot is wide open after 2013 (and lacking talent in 2012). There are plenty of options in the middle rounds for guards, such as fan favorite Barrett Jones, who could also play center.
2014 Free Agents: Aubrayo Franklin, Lawrence Guy, Kellen Heard, Ricardo Mathews, Brandon McKinney, Fili Moala, Lawrence Sidbury, Martin Tevaseu
With most of their defensive linemen on short, low-risk deals, the Colts desperately need some long term answers there, even when it just comes to depth and rotational guys. The only linemen currently on the roster for 2014 are Cory Redding (who will turn 34), Drake Nevis, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Josh Chapman (who has yet to play an NFL snap. Datone Jones is the popular choice right now in the first, but there should be plenty of depth to be found later in the draft as well.
Wide receiver- Darrius Heyward-Bey is the only loss at wide receiver in 2012, but Reggie Wayne isn't getting any younger, and a future #1 wide receiver is still a big need.
Kicker- Adam Vinatieri is a free agent after this year, and the Colts will be looking to replace the famed kicker. Pat McAfee would petition the front office to let him both punt and kick field goals, but there's no knowing whether Grigson would approve that.
Update: this got deleted somehow in the original publishing, but is important to note.- KJR
Running Back- Donald Brown's contract expires after 2013, and the Colts very well could begin looking for a feature back that fits Pep Hamilton's offense better than Ballard/Brown. It's not a good idea to draft one high, but a mid-late round flier on a running back is not out of the question.
I feel that this is the year where the Colt's Draft gets exciting(and that says something because last year I left the Colts Cave until the draft was over.) I think that our roster is "good" when grading the talent. That "good" allows our team to pick anyone who we value as great and this could easily be and I think it has to be if we are wanting another ten+years of sustained success, that we draft those players who can help make the roster great. Both now and in the future will be looked at when evaluating talent where as last year it was a tad bit more of now because as we heard over and over "we weren't rebuilding we were reloading and we needed to win now." We did that, now lets build a great roster and fill the BPA whole on the roster! Go Colts!
Side note, I am new to this site but in no way new to reading and interacting on Colt's blogs. I have long been around Stampede Blue but I really like to read Kyle's articles and that has landed me here more often. Great read and I like what I see from other fans!
I have suggested Ogletree before because I think he is a dynamic talent that doesn't come across at #24 that often, his slow 40 might have hurt him some but he plays much faster, and he is so versatile that he can be used in various packages and his coverage abilities allow him to be an asset in 3rd down situations, something that we lack at times.
WIth that being said I think WR is a now and future type draft pick, I also like safety especially Cyprien, but I have a feeling Landry will be around for a while Cyrien has a bunch of potential I think he is better at a SS role instead of FS.
Also Arthur Brown is good, but I think he gets caught up in miss direction and play action way too often, teams should exploit that at the next level, he really closes good, as well as takes on lockers and explodes when making contact.
At 24 I can only see WR, CB, ILB, DE as real possibilities unless someone amazing falls, I should add that I doubt we reach.
we could pick up raiders cast of rolando mcclain, he had his better days as a 3-4 ILB, and could revise his career here, i know he a knucklehead, but sometimes a change of teams,can do a player some good,expecially leaving oakland, im sure if he clears waivers,we can sign him for a 2 year vet min type of deal
@kendrickjones68 He's very similar to Kavell Conner, but if you can get him for cheap, it wouldn't hurt to have more depth at the position.
Isn't the purpose of the later rounds of the draft and UDFAs to fill longer term needs? Players that came to college under sized, born late in the school calender or simply went to non football powerhouses. Think Jeff Saturday and Pierre Garcon. Jimmy Johnson has Bill Belichick stop by Miami University and give a speech to the team, that reminds them that NFL teams have to find players that "Were not born on third base".
Teams simply have to find at least one or two late round or UDFA keeper each year to stay competitive.
The first 1-2 rounds should yield an NFL ready player however, after that you can start looking ahead a year.
By the way it would be interesting to know which positions in the NFL are most likely to be filled by later round and UDFAs?
Expecting to find a long term starter ever year in late rounds is a dream. Jeff Saturday and Pierre Garcon are BIG outliers. Wouldn't you like to find one there? Sure. But it's more common to find depth guys at that point.
@Kyle Rodriguez Kyle, you're point about the probability of finding late round and UDFAs who become starters is undoubtedly true across all 32 teams. However, the teams that routinely make the playoffs in spite of high draft seeding, like New England and Colts are forced to find late rounders and UDFAs who are significant contributors.
There are pools of later round players and UDFA that do get consistently over looked. These players often share common characteristics. Value and market inefficiency opportunities exist even in the NFL draft. The better teams take the time to exploit them.
@Kyle Rodriguez The high draft seeding would have more effect on the 1st couple rounds as opposed to the later ones.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle if Ogletree drops you can't hesitate on that pick.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle nice write up. Glad my comment sparked an idea!
Wow - those are a lot of D-lineman the Colts stand to lose in '14! Kinda makes me really think the colts need to go with a pass-rusher in the draft; or maybe even pursue some FA D-lineman next offseason. But who knows, maybe josh chapman is a stud?