Today, reader and occasional contributor Stephen Reed checks in with another look at possible selections in the 2012 NFL Draft. As the midway point passes on this winless season, we have to look at the possibility that the Colts do not “earn” the number one pick in next year’s NFL draft. Given our schedule as compared to our nearest competition, it is more likely the Colts will be selecting between picks 2-5. That being said, let’s take a look at the consolation prizes in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.First, many prognosticators who don’t have the Colts with the number one pick have them selecting either QB Landry Jones or QB Matt Barkley. While both are impressive talents, they are not of the same caliber as Luck. The only QB prize in this draft is Andrew Luck. As everyone has said, ad nausea, he is a once in a generation talent and it would theoretically be worth having him sit behind Peyton Manning for 2+ years. Anyone else would be a waste for this pivotal time during the twilight of Manning’s career. The next player many drafts have the Colts selecting is OT Matt Kalil. If he is the best LT in this draft class it is hard to argue against this pick. He would give the Colts one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL by moving Anthony Castonzo to RT and allowing Ben Ijalana to move to a more natural position at RG. Another OT to consider if the Colts pick at 5 or higher is Jonathon Martin from Standford. He excels in pass protection, which the Colts value immensely. If the Colts are unable to select Luck, the most important team goal is to protect Manning. As this season has shown, as long as Manning is standing in the pocket, the Colts have a chance to win. I’ve seen a few mock drafts having the Colts selecting DE Quinton Coples. The main explanation provided is they feel Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are slowing down with age. I don’t agree with this analysis. Opposing teams still game plan to stop or slow down those two. However, it does seem like the Colts are beginning to slowly progress into a new defensive philosophy valuing bigger, more versatile DEs and DTs. Quinton Coples fits that mold. At UNC, he has played both DE and DT for one of the nation’s better defenses. The same defense that produced five NFL draft picks last year. He provides needed size and a quality motor, which translates well into our current and potentially future defensive scheme. Building a quality defense to help get Manning, or whoever is leading our offense, the ball back quickly is something the Colts have needed for years. While I don’t agree with the next selection, I’ve seen one or two drafts having the Colts select RB Trent Richardson from Alabama. Unless it is an Adrian Peterson-like talent, there is no reason to spend a top five pick on a RB. Peterson was selected seventh overall. The careers of RBs are typically much shorter and their production declines too rapidly for this to be a justifiable selection. The Colts look better with Delone Carter, and it seems Donald Brown is running better now that he is getting carries. Thus, selecting Richardson would be a wasted pick. The WR position in this draft is very intriguing. If the Colts feel comfortable with Castonzo and Ijalana at LT and RT respectively, the next approach this franchise takes in the draft is to surround Peyton Manning with exceptional talent. WRs Alshon Jeffrey and Michael Floyd are tremendous WRs but both have flaws. Jeffrey is slow and seems to be struggling when he doesn’t have another receiver or tight end to draw coverage away from him. Michael Floyd has injury issues but is an absolute playmaker on the field when healthy. However, the most intriguing WR prospect is Justin Blackmon. He is the most talented and consistent WR in this draft. Unlike a certain current Colts WR, he has solid hands and almost never drops a pass. Blackmon is an elite playmaker even while receiving double coverage. He would be the immediate replacement for Reggie Wayne when Reggie either retires or the Colts don’t sign him to a long-term deal. Reggie could help groom Blackmon as Harrison did to him if Reggie stays with the franchise. At 0-8 it should be apparent the Colts need more talent and depth throughout the roster. As I’ve said in my previous article, if the Colts do “earn” the number one pick, I believe they should trade it to a team desperate for a franchise QB, Miami or Denver, and stockpile the king’s ransom of draft picks and players to plug current holes and build a solid foundation for life after Manning. However, if that is not an option the Colts should draft either Kalil to protect Manning or Blackmon to give Manning a more consistent weapon in the passing game. They are the best talents available outside of Andrew Luck, and the best options to help build for the future of the franchise. Go Colts!
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