The Indianapolis Colts must focus heavily on defense in the 2015 NFL Draft if they want to be competitive in the future. Its time for the team to shift from a free agent focused approach and put their faith in the draft.
The success of the Colts throughout the Peyton Manning years was built on the backs of rookie contracts. The team rarely dipped into free agency, largely because they didn’t have the money for most of those years.
The Colts drafted well, and then re-signed the impact players. Rarely do big free agent signings pan out and the league is littered with examples. Albert Haynesworth to Washington comes to mind.
Considering the current history of free agent signings with the current front office, why should we think that they’ll do a better job this year? The Colts have some money to spend (roughly $25.6 million) and will therefore be active in free agency.
So far, Colts GM Ryan Grigson is about one-for-three on drafts. He doesn’t get credit for Andrew Luck, but the rest of the 2012 class has been outstanding. 2013 has largely disappointed with first round pick Bjoern Werner regressing in his second season and others failing to stay healthy.
2014’s class took a hit before the draft even started when Grigson traded the first round pick for Trent Richardson. An unforgivable sin. The rest of the class has played very well with Jack Mewhort looking like a long term starter and Jonathan Newsome leading the team in sacks as a rookie.
This will be a crucial draft for the Colts as the cap will get tighter once Luck is eating up to $25 million a year. The Colts need to start the transition to a draft focused team in 2015.
This draft needs to be about defense. In the past two playoff losses, the Colts have surrendered a combined 88 points and over 400 rushing yards.
That means this team has failed to do the one thing they’ve been preaching since Chuck Pagano took over: be tough. Or have grit. Some random aphorism and being physical.
So what do they need to focus on in the draft? It is a very easy answer: defense. Then defense in the middle rounds. And maybe a little more defense near the end of the draft as well.
This starts up front along the defensive line where the Colts haven’t shown any improvement in three years under Pagano’s 3-4 defense. The Colts could essentially start up front in the first round, and work their way back on defense in each round.
The Colts have to double down on the draft and start looking at the future of what is a fairly old defense. Three of the team’s best players, Robert Mathis, Cory Redding, and Mike Adams, are well into their 30s as is D’Qwell Jackson. Adams is a free agent and might not return to the Colts.
They need help at help at every position on this side of the ball and the draft is where they should find the team’s upgrades for the future.