The Colts only have two draft picks in the top 150 in the 2014 draft, quite the drawback in a draft stacked with talent. Because of the scarcity of those picks, there’s quite a bit of attention on the potential players available in rounds two and three from Colts fans and analysts.
But the fifth, sixth and seventh round picks might be, sneakily, even more important for Indianapolis. The Colts have gotten precious little production from their late-round picks in recent years. Ryan Grigson has bought himself plenty of draft “credit” with the drafting of Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton early in 2012, but the late-round picks, both that year and the following, have been invisible.
The Colts have had 10 late-round draft picks in the last two years, six of them have played less than 15 snaps. The other four have contributed, but their long-term future with the team is very much in doubt (Vick Ballard, LaVon Brazill, Josh Chapman and Montori Hughes). The Colts need some production from their late picks.
With that in mind, here are three of my favorite prospects that could potentially be available late in the draft.
DT Caraun Reid, Princeton
Reid does one thing well, and that’s rush the passer. If you can rush the passer in the NFL, somebody will find a place for you.
While he wouldn’t fit the traditional nose tackle position all that well (he isn’t particularly stout and can be overwhelmed by double-teams), he’d be phenomenal as a rotational inside lineman on passing downs. Reid is incredibly quick off of the snap and explodes through gaps better than most of the interior linemen in this draft. For a team that desperately needs interior pass rush, Reid could pay huge dividends.
From NFL.com’s scouting report on Reid:
Very quick off the ball. Disruptive shooting gaps and working half a blocker. Active and energetic — feet are always running. Plays hard and competes. Very good sack production from the interior (20.5 career sacks). Good intelligence. Is very young (entered college as 17-year-old freshman) and still growing into his body — has physical upside. Good length and hand-eye coordination — 7 career blocked kicks.
Tends to stand straight up, negating his quickness and power out of the gate. Is not stout and can be waylaid by the double team. Marginal upper-body strength (diminished from 2011 pectoral surgery). Shows little feel for blocking pressure and can be late to locate the ball. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Pushed around too easily. Durability issues have crept up throughout his career.
Reid could very well be gone by the time the Colts’ fifth-round pick comes around, but it’s not a certainty. If he slides into the fifth, he’s a slam dunk pick.
CB Walt Aikens, Liberty
One of many long, athletic corners in the draft, Aikens is a small-school prospect with big-school history. Aikens was recruited by Clemson and Louisville after graduating high school, and went to Illinois as a freshman. But an off-the-field incident (stealing a computer from a dorm room) led to his removal from the football team at Illinois and transfer to Liberty.
Aikens reminds me of Montori Hughes, but at the corner position. He has ideal size and enormous amounts of athletic potential, but will need to be coached into that potential and will need to be monitored for character concerns. In the sixth or seventh round, he’d be ideal value, but the fifth, which is more likely, isn’t a bad spot for him either.
Outstanding size. Good press strength. Good athletic ability. Can keep stride with receivers down the field and ride the hip pocket in man coverage. Aggressive tackler (though often shoots low) — led the team in tackles as a senior and is unafraid to mix it up. Takes on blocks with physicality and attacks the run. Adequate production on the ball. Has gunner experience.
Is tight-hipped and lacks ideal foot speed, which creates separation in man coverage. Average instincts — can be late to diagnose run-pass reads and locate the ball, is a tick slow to sort out routes and too easily lured by nods and fakes. Often plays into the boundary. Benefits from facing average competition. Character will require closer examination following dismissal from Illinois after a misdemeanor theft conviction.
WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
Arguably the best route-runner in the draft Abbrederis would likely be a second or third-round pick if it wasn’t for his injury history. Abbrederis is a protoypical slot receiver with his strong hands and deceptive route-running, but has suffered concussions. While Abbrederis says it’s only been one concussion, there have been rumors of up to three or four occurring, which is very concerning.
If he’s healthy, Abbrederis is the kind of receiver who could come in and play right away if necessary, and could be that potential successor to Reggie Wayne in the slot in a year or two.
Uses his hands well to swat away press. Stems his routes. Sells his patterns. Nice hands. Good field and boundary awareness. Gives effort to engage and shield cornerbacks as a blocker. Outstanding football intelligence — like a quarterback on the outside. Productive three-year starter. Mature and humble. Hardworking and coachable. Carved up Ohio State CB Bradley Roby to the tune of 10-207-1.
Has a slender build and needs to bulk up and get stronger. Ordinary pop off the line. Builds to average speed. Could struggle to separate vs. quick-twitch covermen. Lets throws into his body and breaks stride to catch. Not a jumpball player (30 1/2-inch vertical jump). Straightlinish after the catch — pedestrian agility and elusiveness. Has a history of concussions. Bench-pressed 225 pounds just four times, lowest of all combine participants.