Indianapolis Colts Early Mock Draft: A running back in the first round?


The Indianapolis Colts have plenty of needs on their draft board as they get ready for the 2017 season. As early mock drafts come out, the Colts look to fill a hole on the offensive side of the ball.

Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Colts can almost pick any position on the roster and determine that it is a top need. We looked over the most important spots they need to fill in the upcoming draft earlier this week.

Obviously we aren’t deep into the offseason with the playoffs only in the second week, the National Title Game having just ended, and the NFL Scouting Combine over a month away. Draft rankings are sure to change as more players declare their intentions to go pro.

But in the early mock drafts we’ve seen a number of experts pick Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the first round for the Colts. Cook is generally seen as a top 10 prospect in this year’s draft. Many position rankings have him as the best running back as well (between him and Leonard Fournette).

Cook is a highly efficient rusher with above average abilities in every category you’d want from a running back. He’s been the most productive back over the past two years, rushing for over 1,600 years both seasons and amassing 46 rushing touchdowns in his three year career. He had almost 5,400 yards from scrimmage in the past three seasons.

More from Horseshoe Heroes

Cook is a game breaker who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He would be the kind of player the Colts have sorely lacked in the backfield for the past five (really, 10) seasons.

His biggest flaws are his size (5-11 and 210-pounds) and fumbles (12 in three seasons). He also needs to develop as a blocker. Cook’s size raises concerns about his ability to take the punishment in the NFL. However some have compared him to NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, as he has a similar style of play.

Considering he isn’t exactly a power back, current Colts coach Chuck Pagano might want to shy away from him. It is clear that Pagano wants a bruiser at the position and someone who can impose their will on opponents. But that does mesh with the team’s personnel and Cook would be an ideal fit with Andrew Luck at QB.

Pro Football Focus has Cook as their seventh best player in the draft. Here’s what they said about him:

"The nation’s best big-play running back, Cook can turn the slightest crease into an explosive play as he possesses angle-changing speed. He led all running backs with 90 missed tackles forced on the ground while averaging 4.2 yards after contact per rush in 2016. He did a better job of maximizing yardage when his blocking wasn’t there, all while maintaining his big-play ability that can change the game in a hurry. Florida State also used Cook a lot more in the passing game last season and that only adds to his value as a player who needs plenty of touches and he’ll be sure to make a major impact on the offense."

Here are what some of the mock’s have to say about Cook to the Colts as well.

Luke Easterling at Draft Wire notes that Frank Gore is nearing the end of his career and that the Colts need a game-changer at the position.

"Frank Gore can’t play forever, and Andrew Luck needs a young, dynamic runner he can rely on to keep opposing defenses honest. Cook is an explosive playmaker who can make an instant impact on all three downs."

Easterling’s three round mock has the Colts taking EDGE rusher Dawuane Smoot from Illinois in the second round and Pittsburgh guard Dorian Johnson in the third.

Over at CBS Sports, Rob Rang also likes Cook to the Colts in the first. Here are his thoughts:

"Adding some juice to the backfield in Indianapolis could be the perfect way to support Andrew Luck and few are better than Cook, who has rushed for more than 1,600 yards each of the past two seasons while gaining 2,046 yards from scrimmage in 2016 — more than 500 better than the great Warrick Dunn‘s school record 20 years earlier."

Production is king in college football, and Cook has that in spades. Even with the questionable offensive line in Indianapolis, the threat of Cook would makes opponents pay attention to the run game.

Over at Sporting News, Eric Galko has the Colts taking a running back, but this time it’s Fournette. His thoughts on the pick:

"Frank Gore has once again fought off Father Time and produced as a feature back, but the Colts, in the best running back class in the last decade, shouldn’t get complacent at the position."

There is a debate between Fournette and Cook at the position and really the Colts couldn’t go wrong with either one. Fournette has been compared to Adrian Peterson, and that’s worked out pretty well for the Vikings. He would also be a better fit for what Pagano wants at the position, for whatever that is worth.

We’ll have more draft coverage on the Colts in the coming days, weeks, and months.