2013 Colts draft needs: Protecting QB, help on 'D' the top concerns in Indy

John Harris
Special to Yahoo! Sports

LAST SEASON Rush Offense – 104.4 ypg (22nd)
Pass Offense – 258.0 ypg (7th)
Total Offense – 362.4 ypg (10th)
Scoring Offense – 22.3 ppg (18th)
Rush Defense – 137.5 ypg (29th)
Pass Defense – 236.8 ypg (21st)
Total Defense – 374.2 ypg (26th)
Scoring Defense – 24.2 ppg (21st) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Offensive line, any spot
Defense: Pick one

Quarterback The Draft Board

7th round Alex Carder, Western Michigan (6-2, 220)
Sean Renfree, Duke (6-4, 225)

Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. Transition complete. OK, don’t sue me for forgetting the Curtis Painter/Dan Orlovsky 2011 link, but we’d all like to move on from that year no matter how important it was in helping the Colts obtain Luck. Unless Colts backup Drew Stanton is lusted after in the offseason, drafting a QB isn't a priority and won’t precipitate a discussion until the sixth round at the earliest. A free-agent veteran would make much more sense than using a late-round selection unless the Colts find value that they can spin later in a trade.

Quite frankly, there is really no need to investigate a QB in this draft at all, but in the seventh round, if the Colts could consider drafting a project.

Running Back The Draft Board

7th round Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (5-10, 170)
George Winn, Cincinnati (5’11, 210)
D.J. Harper, Boise State (5-9, 205)

The run game was Robin to the passing game’s Batman for a number of reasons. One, the Colts fell behind in a number of games and HAD to throw to get back in the game. Two, the Colts' offensive line was ineffective (more on that later). Third, not one of the Colts running backs averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry this season. Lastly, that Luck character is pretty good.

But, I’ve been a huge fan of former Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard and like him in this offense, with Donald Brown, if he’s brought back. Given Ballard’s effectiveness late in the season and Brown’s return from injury, the running back position shouldn’t be a huge priority until late in the draft, especially without second- and fifth-round selections currently and holes elsewhere.

Backs like McCalebb and Harper are speed demon specialists who could be worth a look late in the draft given the pressure they can put on a defense.

Wide receiver The Draft Board

4th round Chris Harper, Oregon (6-1, 228) 6th round Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Wash. (6-4, 214)

Reggie Wayne can’t play forever, but he was seemingly rejuvenated with Luck's arrival. Still, the Colts needed more than just Wayne in the passing game on the perimeter going into the 2012 season. Donnie Avery and rookie T.Y Hilton stepped up, combining for 110 catches and 10 touchdowns during the regular season. LaVon Brazill provides some depth to the position that has gone from question mark to positive.

Could it still use an upgrade? Perhaps. Avery is an unrestricted free agent who drove up his value with a solid season, but the Colts would be wise to re-sign him. What Indianapolis doesn’t have is a big, physical receiver who can win in the intermediate ares of the field. Due to concussions, Austin Collie’s return isn’t something to bank on in 2013 (and he’s an unrestricted free agent too), but the Colts made do without a receiver of that ilk. Consequently, it’s not an early round priority, but if there’s value on day three, the Colts could be interested.

Harper is what Hilton and Avery are not – big and physical. Harper’s stock will rise and fall with his 40 time at the NFL Combine and on his pro day. I just don’t see the Colts looking this early at receiver. But, Harper is great value in the fourth round if he falls that far.

Tight End

After making this position a priority in last year’s draft, don’t expect the Colts to target the tight end. The 2012 NFL Draft yielded Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. That duo should man those positions for the next seven to nine years. While Fleener has some room to grow, Allen was a beast most of the season.

Offensive line The Draft Board

1st round G Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-2, 322)
G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (6-3, 310)
RT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-7, 303) 2nd round C Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-4, 305)
G/RT D.J Fluker, Alabama (6-6, 335)
RT Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-5, 298)
RT Kyle Long, Oregon (6-7, 312) 3rd round RT Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-6, 310)
4th round RT Menelik Watson, Florida St. (6-5, 320) 5th round C Khaled Holmes, USC (6-3, 305) 6th round RT Reid Fragel, Ohio St. (6-7, 298)
7th round RT John Wetzel, Boston College (6-7, 313)
G Lane Taylor, Oklahoma St. (6-2, 328)

The QB position is set for the next decade plus; now, it’s GM Ryan Grigson’s responsibility to find a way to keep Luck from getting too beat up. LT Anthony Castonzo is a starting point and is perhaps the only safe starter heading into next season. The Colts need a consistent right tackle to replace the Winston Justice/Bradley Sowell duo that was present in 2012.

This draft isn’t stocked with tackles now that Michigan’s Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews decided to return to school, but there are some quality options at guard in the first two rounds.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see multiple picks on the offensive line and perhaps even free agent acquisitions as well.

The Colts should have nearly every draft-eligible offensive lineman on their radar, but Chance Warmack at No. 24 would be a dream. I thought there was no way David DeCastro would be available for the Steelers in last year’s draft and he was, so there’s no way of saying how it’ll play out. He’d be the moon, while a guy like Jonathan Cooper would be the stars in the opening round. 

Defensive line The Draft Board

1st round DT/DE Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (6-3, 295)
NT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio St. (6-3, 320)
NT Jesse Williams, Alabama (6-3, 320)
DT/DE Sharrif Floyd, Florida (6-3, 303)
NT John Jenkins, Georgia (6-3, 358)
DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU (6-5, 270) 3rd round DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 272) 4th round NT Kwame Geathers, Georgia (6-5, 355) 5th round DE Joe Kruger, Utah (6-6, 280)
DE Everett Dawkins, Florida St. (6-2, 304) 

The transition to the 3-4 may take a few years to fully take hold. Regardless, the Colts need help up front, especially with a few key unrestricted free agents on the roster.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the defensive line depth in this draft is off the charts, so the Colts will have a handful of “value” NT or DE options on the board throughout the draft to improve those rush defense numbers noted above.

With DE Cory Redding being the only sure thing on the Colts' D-line, targeting help in the first round makes a ton of sense, too. Sheldon Richardson is a big-time 4-3 "3 tech", but I could see 3-4 teams moving him out to a "5 tech" in that scheme (a la J.J Watt who made the transition from 4-3 DE inside to 3-4 DE seamlessly). Johnathan Hankins can play all over the front so the Colts could put him over the nose or move him out to DE to help perimeter run defense.

Linebackers The Draft Board

1st round OLB/DE Sam Montgomery, LSU (6-5, 260)
OLB/DE Dion Jordan, Oregon (6-6, 243) 3rd round OLB John Simon, Ohio St. (6-2, 256)
OLB Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-2, 230) 4th round ILB Nico Johnson, Alabama (6-2, 249)
ILB Kevin Reddick (6-2, 246)
ILB A.J Klein, Iowa St. (6-1, 246)
OLB Meshak Williams, Kansas St. (6-2, 245)
OLB Lerentee McCray, Florida (6-2, 249)
ILB Kiko Alonso, Oregon (6-3, 242) 7th round ILB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (6-1, 234)
ILB Albert Rosette, Nevada (6-2, 245)

The biggest question for the Colts may be what to do with OLB Dwight Freeney. He made the transition from 4-3 DE to 3-4 OLB; unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly what the Colts envisioned. Plus, he’s 32 and has lost a half-step to a full step. The Colts could, and should, let him walk to help kick-start the youth movement at OLB and put Jerry Hughes on the spot to become the player the Colts drafted in 2010.

The Colts’ ILB play has been adequate, but not to the point where they can possibly ignore that position on Day 3.

I don’t think there is any way for the Colts to pass on protection for Andrew Luck in the first round, but finding a pressure player on the edge makes perfect sense if they do pass on OL help. If the Colts do follow convention and pick an offensive lineman early, targeting a player like John Simon in the third round is the next logical play provided he falls that far.

Secondary The Draft Board

3rd round S Jonathan Cyprien, FIU (6-0, 209) 4th round S Shawn Williams, Georgia (6-0, 211)
S Zeke Motta, Notre Dame (6-2, 215)
CB Leon McFadden, San Diego State (5-10, 193)
CB Tharold Simon, LSU (6-2, 193) 5th round S Duke Williams, Nevada (5-11, 201)
CB Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 194) 6th round S JJ Wilcox, Georgia Southern (5-11, 214)
CB Sanders Commings, Georgia (6-0, 223) 7th round S Rashard Hall, Clemson (6-1, 213)
CB Josh Johnson, Purdue (5-10, 199)
CB Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma St. (5-8, 183)

The trade for Vontae Davis was necessary given the dearth of cornerback options in training camp and he played admirably in his first season in Indianapolis. But the Colts aren’t set in the secondary by any stretch – in fact, they could use an upgrade at each secondary position.

CB Jerraud Powers is an unrestricted free agent, while CB Cassius Vaughn is a restricted free agent who made key plays down the stretch of the season. Suffice it to say, the holes at OL, DL and pass rusher could force the Colts to look at free agent options in the secondary, lock up Vaughn and look at CB and/or S on Day 3.

I’d love to see Jonathan Cyprien in the third round or Zeke Motta in play for the Colts in the fourth round. Motta is a physical presence in the middle of the field, but he improved in coverage throughout his four-year career. Plus, he can be a monster on special teams.

John Harris hosts The John Harris Show for Yahoo! Sports Radio.

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