62° Good Afternoon
62° Good Afternoon

2014 NFL Draft primer: Indianapolis Colts

Mississippi State offensive lineman Gabe Jackson runs a

Mississippi State offensive lineman Gabe Jackson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Credit: AP / Michael Conroy

This is the final primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit. The draft begins at 8 p.m. Thursday.


2013 record: 11-5

Key offseason acquisitions: DE Arthur Jones, WR Hakeem Nicks, MLB D'Qwell Jackson.

Key offseason departures: FS Antoine Bethea, RB Donald Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, C Samson Satele, G Mike McGlynn, MLB Pat Angerer.

Biggest holes: Interior offensive line, free safety, edge rusher

In a way, the Colts already spent their first-round pick on running back Trent Richardson, who came from Cleveland in exchange for what would become the 26th overall pick.

Richardson averaged 2.9 yards per carry with the Colts, though there weren't too many holes with the likes of Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn up front. Donald Thomas (who is coming off a torn quad and a torn bicep) and Hugh Thornton currently are starting at guard, while 2013 fourth-rounder Khaled Holmes is penciled in at center. Even with one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Andrew Luck, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is adopting a power run offense in Indy, but they need to make some improvements along the interior line in order for that to come to fruition.

Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson would be a good choice, provided he's available at the end of the second round. Jackson (6-3, 331 pounds) has a great blend of power and light feet. He shows good knee-bend, drives through opponents as a run blocker and stays balanced in the passing game. There are a few questions about Jackson's consistency, but if he can put it all together he could be a long-term solution inside.

The Colts drafted a center last year but do it again this year as well. Colorado's Weston Richburg is the top center in this year's class and could be an immediate starter. Richburg started at center, guard and tackle at various points for the Rams. He's durable (he started all 50 games of his Rams career), smart, makes good pre-snap calls and moves well for a 6-3, 298-pounder. He helps his fellow linemen out and stays active if he's not blocking anyone off the snap. He won't maul any nose tackles in the run game, but his athleticism and intelligence would be an asset on the Colts' line.

If the Colts aren't enamored with their current starting center from USC, they could draft another potential starting center from USC: Marcus Martin. Martin uses his size (6-3, 320 pounds) and strength to power through defensive linemen off the snap. He's also versatile, having started for two years at guard before replacing Holmes at center. He's not as polished as Richburg and will often go for the knockout shot instead of a sustaining block, but he has a great deal of upside and can play anywhere on the interior line as a rookie.

The Colts also could use some more help in the secondary. They re-signed Vontae Davis to a four-year, $39 million deal, but lost free safety Antoine Bethea to San Francisco. They still have LaRon Landry at strong safety, though he's better when asked to play in the box. A rangy, ball-hawking complement to Landry could be an option at 59.

Florida State's Terrence Brooks would fit well if he's on the board at this pick. The playmaking safety is athletic (4.42 40, 38-inch vertical) and has good hands and ball skills. He's also a big hitter, though at times that can get him into trouble as he occasionally fails to wrap up ballcarriers. He has the tools to become a valuable presence out in centerfield for years to come.

Minnesota's Brock Vereen also is an option here. The brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen played both cornerback and safety with the Golden Gophers. His athleticism showed at the Combine, when he posted a 4.47-second 40, put up 25 reps on the bench press and clocked a 6.90-second three-cone drill and a 4.07-second 20-yard shuttle). Vereen relies on his intelligence and instincts when in coverage and can diagnose routes quickly. However, he only had four career interceptions at Minnesota and isn't considered a ball hawk.

Possible options in the third round and later include Arkansas center Travis Swanson, LSU guard Trai Turner, Florida guard Jon Halapio, Stanford guard David Yankey, USC safety Dion Bailey, North Carolina safety Tre Boston, Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford.

New York Sports