Indianapolis Colts positions to fill in the 2017 draft

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off their second straight disappointing season, but that at least means a slightly better draft pick. With either the 14th or 15th pick in the draft (determined via coin flip) the Colts will be in a good position to pick up a talented player.


The Colts need a little of everything.

If GM Ryan Grigson is coming back in 2017 (and we’re still not 100 percent on that right now) he is going to have to nail this draft. This is basically his last shot to keep his job and if he can’t find immediate impact players this time around, the Colts will once again be missing the playoffs.

The Colts have plenty of positions of need, namely on defense. On that side of the ball the team is in desperate need of playmakers. There are a few bright young talents, but it remains to be seen what they will develop into (namely safety Clayton Geathers and DE Henry Anderson).

Offensively, the Colts obviously don’t need to draft a quarterback (although a quality, cheap backup would be nice). And assuming they re-sign Jack Doyle, the Colts also don’t need to look at any tight ends either. Wide receiver is a debateable spot as well, but there are many clear needs much higher on the list.

Here are the most important positions for the Colts to address:

Outside linebacker/EDGE rusher

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This position has been part neglected, part “not drafted due to lack of available talent.” The Colts signed Trent Cole thinking he could spell Robert Mathis, but when you have two over the hill pass rushers you have nothing.

A good pass rush completely changes your defense and can win a team a championship (see: Broncos). Being able to harass the passer allows for so much more flexibility on defense and the Colts have to find their guy in 2017. They don’t want to reach on a player, so at 14 or 15 he might not be there in the first round. But pass rush is paramount in this upcoming draft.

Inside linebacker

This has been a position of weakness throughout the past five years and it became clear very quickly that the young players the team currently has are either limited, projects, or not starting quality (or all three). They need to find linebackers who have coverage ability and can tackle.

The soft middle of the Colts defense has been an issue for far too long and getting D’Qwell Jackson back next season really doesn’t help with these issues.


Just anywhere in the secondary. Cornerback or safety. Geathers could be a player, but it remains to be seen how he’ll recover from his neck injury. Vontae Davis is very good, but the Colts really lack a option besides him (Patrick Robinson was a disappointment).

T.J. Green was bad at safety this season, and Darius Butler looked better in that position when asked to make a switch. Mike Adams is getting up there in years and the Colts have to solidify this position.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that coach Chuck Pagano is still so focused on run stopping. He wants players who hit hard and plug up the holes, ignoring the fact that the NFL is so very much a passing league. This has been a philosophical disconnect between him and Grigson as the latter tries to make Pagano happy by occasionally drafting or signing a guy that really doesn’t fit in the modern NFL anymore.

Running back 

Frank Gore broke the elusive 1,000 yard mark at 33 years old. That means his production is three years past falling off a cliff. He isn’t going to get any faster in 2017 and that means finding his replacement. Robert Turbin had his moments, but he isn’t a game changing running back by any stretch of the imagination.

Early mock drafts have the Colts taking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, and he would be a distinct difference maker. However that pick is going to be determined (or should be) by the defensive players available at that point in the draft. This is also a fairly deep draft at running back, and the Colts could find a talented player later on.

Offensive line?

Despite all the pressure Andrew Luck was under in 2016, the Colts simply can’t afford to keep dumping picks into the offensive line. They have to hope that the players drafted in 2016 develop into quality starters.

Towards the end of the season, Luck went multiple games without taking a sack. While that seemed like progress, it was actually a hollow stat. The pressure remained the same, but Luck simply didn’t go down. And there lies the truth of pass protection: sacks are on the quarterback, pressure is on the line.

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The best thing Luck can do is get rid of the ball quickly. But it would certainly help if the Colts didn’t routinely call for seven-step dropbacks. The offensive line is a group effort between the blockers, coaches, and quarterback.

For the Colts in 2017, this is a must win draft. Their cap space is smaller, and free agency has rarely worked out for them anyway, and they must find a way to build a team around the draft. For some reason it looks like Jim Irsay is giving them another chance, and they better not blow it this time around.