Colts pick up Notre Dame linebacker in new mock draft
The Indianapolis Colts get a front row seat at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend, and a new mock draft has them taking a talented, but injured prospect.
The Colts have needs at almost every position heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. One of those positions is linebacker, and it hardly matter if they look at middle or outside either. With the possibility of Jerrell Freeman leaving, and the desperate need of a pass rusher, the Colts are sure to be scouting linebackers closely at the Combine this week.
Over at The Big Lead, Jason McIntyre has the Colts taking a player from their own backyard. With the 18th pick, McIntyre has the Colts taking Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith. Here are his thoughts on the pick:
"18. Indianapolis Colts – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame. The fears that he could miss most of the season (or all of it) will certainly scare off some teams contending for a Super Bowl, but Smith is undeniably a 1st round talent. I had him Top 10 pre-injury."
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Smith is an absolute playmaker and was always either making a tackle or near the ball last season. But he also might be the poster child for not playing in bowl games after tearing his ACL against Ohio State on January 1st in the Fiesta Bowl. The problem with Smith is that he isn’t expected to play in 2016 following the surgery.
He’ll likely undergo a standard medical exam that will determine the progress he’s made over the past month and a half, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ever be ready to play this season. Smith is going to drop in the draft due to these injury concerns, and depending on the results of his medical examinations this week, it could be a free fall.
That isn’t to say the Colts should avoid Smith, he might be the best linebacker in the draft and his past two seasons in college have been exceptional. The problem is that GM Ryan Grigson was basically just given a new lease on life and taking a player in the first round who can’t play for a year won’t generate any good will with his boss, coach, or the fans.
But if we look forward, could Smith be a good addition to the team? Absolutely. If you ever watch the Irish this season, Smith was more than likely the guy making the play on defense. His range is exceptional, he’s great in coverage and against the run, and started all 39 games in his career. Smith has the athletic ability to play any linebacking role and might have actually been miscast as a 4-3 middle linebacker at Notre Dame.
The Colts would be asking him to switch schemes and position, to an extent. If they wanted to take advantage of his athletic ability and range, they’d move him to outside linebacker who has a limited pass rush role (at least until he develops more in this area) and ask him to set the edge. The Colts haven’t had much luck when it comes to converting players in scheme or position, but Smith has the raw ability to make it work.
Next: What will Grigson look for at the Combine?
The Colts taking Smith in the first round seems like a stretch considering the injuries. This would be an outstanding pickup in the second round, and might even be worth trading to keep Smith in Indiana.