Josh Padgett - @jpadgett94
This is my first article for Dynasty Happy Hour. I will be covering the Colts for DHH this year and I look forward to sharing as much info as I can get my eyes and ears on with all of you. Without further ado, let's get into how this off-season went for the Colts.
Tyrell Adams, LB
Denico Autry, DE
Eric Ebron, TE
Ryan Grant, WR
Matt Slauson, C/G
Round 1, Pick 6 (6 overall): Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Round 2, Pick 4 (36 overall): Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Round 2, Pick 5 (37 overall): Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
Round 2, Pick 20 (52 overall): Kemoko Touray, EDGE, Rutgers
Round 2, PIck 32 (64 overall): Tyquan Lewis, DL, Ohio State
Round 4, Pick 4 (104 overall): Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State
Round 5, Pick 22 (159 overall): Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Round 5, Pick 32 (169 overall): Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss
Round 6, Pick 11 (185 overall): Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
Round 7, PIck 3 (221 overall): Matthew Adams, LB, Houston
Round 7, Pick 17 (235 overall): Zaire Franklin, LB, Syracuse
Undrafted free agents: Michael Badgley, K, Miami, Chris Cooper, S, Stony Brook, Lashard Durr, CB, Mississippi State, Steve Ishmael, WR, Syracuse, Robert Jackson, CB, UNLV, Tomasi Laulile, DT, BYU, Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina, George Odum, S, Central Arkansas, William Ossai, LB, San Jose State, Henre’ Toliver, CB, Arkansas
With 11 draft picks and 10 undrafted free agent signings following a quiet free agency period, the Colts brought some new blood into the building. While it is too early to grade the draft by player or as a whole, I will be discussing some of the more interesting new players and how they will affect the depth chart in Indianapolis as well as how this could affect the value of these players or some of their new teammates.
Quenton Nelson, while not the sexiest pick, is an incredible remedy to the widely known struggles of one of the worst offensive lines in the league since 2015. Nelson will bring a level of stability to the line along with Ryan Kelly, the center from Alabama who the Colts drafted in the first round last year. Pair those two with longtime tackle Anthony Castonzo and 2018 second round pick Braden Smith and all of a sudden there may be a competent line forming. While the driving force in this offense is Andrew Luck, at least when he returns to the field, this line will be much better suited to protect him and allow him to make plays. Selecting two offensive linemen this early in the draft should help to boost the stock of Colts skill position players including Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Marlon Mack.
There is a distinct lack of skill position talent currently on the roster, is something Ballard did not address well enough in the draft. Throwing a bunch of late round picks at the wall and seeing what sticks is not a good way to arm the franchise quarterback with weapons as he re-enters the prime of his career. The flip side to that coin though, is that Peyton Manning made everyone on the field better, and maybe Luck can do that too. Two skill position draft picks that Ballard did stick out: Nyheim Hines and Deon Cain. Hines has become a dynasty twitter darling and figures to find an interesting role as a change of pace back behind Mack (who figured to be the change of pace back behind a guy like Derrius Guice until the Colts passed on him with all three of their second round picks). Hines will also immediately slot in as the kick and punt returner. Whether or not it provides fantasy value, it will at least give him more opportunities to show the coaches what he can do. Frank Reich is a creative offensive mind who will use Hines in unique ways which will give him some dynasty allure.
Deon Cain, easily the better receiver of the two drafted by Indianapolis, was supposed to be the next man up in the Clemson wide receiver parade. This didn’t go exactly as planned. Cain, however, flashed on tape and I figured he should have gone higher in the draft despite an imperfect senior season. Clemson really started to rely on him this past year, accounting for a solid 25% of the team’s yards through the air. Cain was a deep threat (averaged over 19 YPC in his sophomore year) prior to 2017, when he showed that he can run a greater variety of routes. More targets, more catches, and more being asked of him showed he can handle being a top target on good offense. He can handle the WR2 role in Indianapolis, where he will compliment Hilton well. Cain will outperform Daurice Fountain, there is a role for Fountain as well in an offense devoid of skill position talent. Chester Rogers could get in the way of the two rookies, but Ryan Grant should not be an issue. Grant will be learning the offense the same as the rookies he won’t present much of a threat to two players who are both more talented than him.
The wildcard in all of this is undrafted free agent Steve Ishmael from Syracuse. He is a good route runner, though not a great athlete, who broke out his senior year with 105 catches and over 1300 yards. He reminds me of Doug Baldwin in terms of style of play. Baldwin wins on route running and strength in the short area of the field. Ishmael could carve out a role on this team with a lot of uncertainty at the receiver position. While definitely not somebody to go pick up today, don’t be too surprised if he sneaks onto the roster and a name we could certainly be hearing come pre-season.
The most likely acquisition from this offseason to make a direct impact on your fantasy team is Eric Ebron. He may not have lived up to the hype of being the 10th overall pick in 2014, but he just turned 25 and a change of scenery could help him get in the groove. Doyle will be a great mentor for him as well. His athletic profile is half that of Ebron and he has been able to put it together and beat out other weapons for targets before. The savvy, the route running, and the winning attitude of Doyle will rub off on Ebron. The Colts should run a lot of 12 personnel allowing both of them to get on the field plenty. Moving from a Lions team where Ebron was well down the target share list to a Colts team lacking weapons could prove to be the break he needed. He can fill multiple roles for the offense, either play across the middle of the field or getting deep on linebackers and safeties better than anyone else on this roster. He also steps in as the best red zone target on the team with his size and athleticism. Cheap in fantasy right now and a guy I would be looking to buy, he should return top 10 value at tight end in 2018. If Luck is tossing him the rock, we could soon be witnessing the tenth overall pick the Lions were expecting.
Overall, look for this Colts offense to improve with or without Andrew Luck. With most Colts weapons, view this offseason as a buy low window. In conclusion, this Colts offseason has quietly been a good one. When your highest profile move was signing Eric Ebron, you can easily have a sense of disappointment. I was expecting some more splash moves with the cap room that the Colts had to work with, but the moves that were made make sense and a direction has clearly been established for the future. A full season from Luck will bring more hope to a franchise that has been searching for a little while. Here’s hoping next year’s version of this article has a lot more fireworks, but for now, Colts fans should be content.