Colts finish up 2017 draft with two more defenders
The Indianapolis Colts set their sights on adding depth to the defensive with their final two picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Indy added Temple corner Nate Hairston and Northwestern inside linebacker Anthony Walker with the picks.
The Colts made it painfully clear that they were addressing all of their defensive needs in this years draft spending six of their eight picks on that side of the ball. With a bunch of selections in rapid succession on the final day of the draft, the Colts potentially end their day with Temple cornerback Nate Hairston and Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker in the fifth round.
Temple CB Nate Hairston
Hairston was a wide receiver before converting to corner for his final two seasons. He has great instincts for a player with little experience at the position and as a bonus is a great edge setter against the run.
Hairston is still coming into his own as a cornerback but has the potential to turn into a starting-caliber player in the NFL. Has to work on his technique but all of his flaws can be chalked up to his lack of experience at the position. He’s already improved by an impressive amount in his two years at CB.
From Pro Football Focus on Hairston:
"Round 5, pick No. 158: Nate Hairston, CB, TempleHairston only allowed 23 receptions in 2016 and quickly brings down wide receivers who do get a catch on him. Hairston allowed an average of just 2.1 yards after the catch, which ties him at No. 2 in the draft class. Hairston allowed just 0.63 yards per cover snap in 2016, which ties him at No. 8 in the class in that regard. — Jordan Plocher,"
Northwestern LB Anthony Walker
Walker was a standout talent in the Big Ten in his final two seasons in college. In 2015, he was named first-team All-Big Ten and third-team AP All-American. In that campaign he had 122 tackles, with 16.5 for a loss. In 2016 he was named to the second-team All-Big Ten as a junior. His numbers were down last season (105 tackles and 10 for a loss) but it would have been tough for him to top that sophomore season.
"Round 5, pick No. 161: Anthony Walker, LB, NorthwesternWalker has the size and athleticism to play inside linebacker in the Colts’ defensive scheme. He’s at his best when being able to attack the line of scrimmage, as his 1.51 yards allowed per tackle was the best mark in the draft class. When asked to move backwards into coverage, he’s had struggles locating the ball and receivers in his zone, an area he will need to improve. — Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt"
Walker has the potential to turn into a productive starter over the next few seasons and checks all the boxes for what you want out of a linebacker. His work ethic will ensure that he’ll do whatever it takes to develop, but that doesn’t guarantee how good a player he’ll turn into.
Both Walker and Hairston add depth to the Colts defense and have the potential to turn into quality players, if not starters. The defensive focus on this draft from GM Chris Ballard has been much appreciated and it looks like the team has found quality players across the roster.