2018 NFL Draft Reset: Colts to look for defense, defense, defense

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The Indianapolis Colts went into the veteran free agency market looking to improve overall depth at several positions, such as the offensive line and in the receiving corps.

While the Colts stuck to their game plan and didn’t get involved with many of the higher-priced free agents available, Indianapolis did succeed in adding some second-tier players who could prove valuable over the course of the 2018 regular season.

The team added guard Matt Slauson (Chargers), tight end Eric Ebron (Detroit), wide receiver Ryan Grant (Washington), and defensive end Denico Autry (Oakland). All four should provide immediate help at their respective positions.

Indianapolis also retained the services of several unrestricted free agents, such as kicker Adam Vinatieri, guard Jack Mewhort, running back Christine Michael and cornerback Pierre Desir.

The Colts parted ways with defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (Oakland).

Here is a closer look at where the Texans are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.

THE BREAKDOWN

2017 finish: 3rd AFC South (4-12)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 284.6 (31st)

RUSHING: 103.8 (22nd)

PASSING: 180.8 (30th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 367.1 (30th)

RUSHING: 120.4 (26th)

PASSING: 246.6 (28th)

TEAM NEEDS

  1. Outside pass rusher: Indianapolis has tried to fill the void through veteran free agency. But the franchise needs an outstanding young pass rushing talent that can anchor the defensive line and be a playmaker. There will be some people available for the Colts to choose from, such as North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb and Boston College’s Harold Landry.
  1. Middle linebacker: With a new defensive coordinator running the show and the need for more athletic skills required of the team’s inside linebackers, Indianapolis will be looking for help at all three linebacking positions in the new 4-3 defensive alignment. But middle linebacker is where the Colts will be looking for immediate help.
  1. Cornerback: Gone are Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin, who began the 2017 season as starters in the Colts secondary. Davis was released during the season and Melvin was allowed to move on via free agency. Pierre Desir is back and Quincy Wilson is expected to move into a startering role in his second season. Nate Hairston, another second-year player, appears set as the team’s top slot cornerback. Still, finding depth at the position will be crucial in this draft.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

–CB Pierre Desir: UFA; $1.75M/1 yr, $750K guaranteed/$750K RB.

–G Jack Mewhort: UFA; 1 yr, $1.5M/1 yr, $300K guaranteed/$700K RB.

–RB Christine Michael: UFA; $790K/1 yr.

–K Adam Vinatieri: Potential UFA; $3.625M/1 yr, $2M guaranteed/$1M RB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

–DE Denico Autry: UFA Raiders; $17,.8M/3 yrs, $6.5M fully guaranteed.

–TE Eric Ebron: FA Lions; $13M/2 yrs, $6.25M guaranteed/$5.25M RB.

–LB Najee Goode: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.

–WR Ryan Grant: UFA Redskins; $5M guaranteed/1 yr.

–C/G Matt Slauson: UFA Chargers; $2.5M/1 yr, $750K guaranteed RB.

PLAYERS LOST

–ILB Jon Bostic: UFA Steelers; $4M/2 yrs, $1.4M SB.

–RB Frank Gore: UFA Dolphins; $1.105M/1 yr, $90K SB.

–DT Johnathan Hankins (released).

–CB Rashaan Melvin: UFA Raiders; $5.5M/1 yr, $4.85M fully guaranteed/$3M SB.

–OLB Barkevious Mingo: UFA Seahawks; $6.8M/2 yrs, $3.2M fully guaranteed/$2.2M SB.

–WR Donte Moncrief: UFA Jaguars; $9.6M/1 yr fully guaranteed; $4M SB.

*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 6 overall)

Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):

–Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Colts’ decision to trade back is perhaps the best indication yet that the club is satisfied with Andrew Luck’s recovery. Acquiring three second-round picks (including the Jets’ 2019 selection) to move down three spots and still have arguably the best player in the entire draft available? That’s a huge win for the Colts, who could use Nelson’s size, athleticism and nastiness inside.

Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):

–Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Colts need offensive line and defensive help, but the firepower of Barkley might be too enticing. His presence and production in the backfield greatly helps Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.

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