Colts focus on offensive line in two more mock draft

Nov 21, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) blocks against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) blocks against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL Draft is just a week away and to the surprise of no one the Indianapolis Colts are still focused on offensive lines in new mocks.

Offensive line. That is dominant theme of the Colts offseason as it relates to the NFL Draft. According to the analysts, the Colts HAVE to leave the first round with a lineman, regardless of how much a stretch the pick might be.

This has been the theme for the past few years as the Colts offensive line has been a mess and led to Andrew Luck taking an inordinate amount of hits during his four years in the league. But that doesn’t mean the Colts will fold if that 18th pick isn’t a lineman, especially not when this draft is so deep at those positions.

Now we have both of ESPN’s draft experts putting up their final mock drafts and they both have the Colts taking an offensive tackle in the first round. In fact it is the same player, Ohio State’s Taylor Decker, who has been mocked to the Colts so, so many times.

Todd McShay’s Mock 5.0 came out today, and here are his thoughts on the pick:

"After failing to protect Andrew Luck last season, the Colts must come out of this draft with a more solidified offensive line. Decker would be a great place to start. He’s a perfect fit at right tackle, Indy’s biggest need, and has one of the highest floors of anyone in this draft."

He might as well have copy and pasted his thoughts from before. But at least McShay knows that Decker would move to the right side of the line because left tackle is set with Anthony Castonzo. McShay’s counterpart at ESPN doesn’t seem to do as much research before making his picks.

Mel Kiper put up his ‘Grade A’ mock draft this week and picked the first three rounds for the Colts. Here’s his whole breakdown

"Round 1 (18): Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio StateRound 2 (48): Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USCRound 3 (82): Austin Johnson, DT, Penn StateAnalysis: I have offensive line as a need if I’m the GM here, and Decker makes sense at No. 18. He played both left tackle and right tackle for Ohio State, and while you don’t assume he’s going to simply come in and lock down the left side, I’m drafting with idea that I can’t go wrong by adding O-line help. It’s all about getting better in front of my franchise player both in the running game and in pass protection. With Cravens I’m getting the good kind of “tweener” — a guy who could be a safety or an undersized outside linebacker, but I consider both of those need positions on this roster, and the talent is significant here. Johnson steps in as rotation help early on as an interior defender on the defensive line."

Kiper clearly missed that Castonzo is on the roster. It isn’t the first time either as he’s mocked Decker to the Colts before and stated he’d start at left tackle from day one. Decker could switch sides of the line, but that would likely be detrimental to his development.

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If Decker can make the switch, then he’d be a very good addition to the offensive line and more than likely be an anchor for years to come. The other two picks are a bit more interesting as we haven’t talked about either one before.

Cravens is an interesting player as a hybrid safety-linebacker but it looks like he’s converting to linebacker full time. The Colts aren’t exactly set at safety, but Cravens would definitely fit the role as a cover linebacker they really need. His versatility would allow the Colts to use him in a lot of different ways and add a more dynamic player to the defense.

Johnson is an excellent run defender with some promising pass rush skills at defensive tackle. The Colts actually have a lot of depth as this position but have two players coming back from season ending injuries, so more talent doesn’t hurt. He has all the tools to be a very good player, but just needs to put them all together and develop a bit more.

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Those latter two picks would definitely help the Colts. Decker certainly isn’t a bad pick either, but the situation might not be right and Kiper’s reasoning definitely isn’t correct. A smarter line move would be to fix the interior and work out, but with so much talent in the trenches the Colts are sure to find some capable linemen next weekend.