Grading the Draft: Indianapolis Colts

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

The Colts went into this year's draft with a new general manager in Chris Ballard and a laser focus on the defensive side of the football, and they came away with several players who have the ability to make an immediate impact on that side of the football.


Malik Hooker


Ohio State


Quincy Wilson




Tarell Basham




Zach Banner




Marlon Mack


South Florida


Grover Stewart


Albany State (GA)


Nate Hairston




Anthony Walker Jr.



UDFA Signings: Darrell Daniels, TE, Washington; Rigoberto Sanchez, K, Hawaii; Deyshawn Bond, OC, Cincinnati; Brandon Radcliff, RB, Louisville; Jhaustin Thomas, DE, Iowa State; P.J. Walker, QB, Temple; Bug Howard, WR, North Carolina; Dalton Crossan, RB, New Hampshire; Chris Muller, OG, Rutgers; Jerome Lane, WR, Akron; JoJo Naton, WR, Akron; Colin Jeter, TE, LSU; Trey Griffey, WR, Arizona; Garrett Sickels, DE, Penn State; Jerry Ugokwe, OL, William & Mary; Reginald Porter, CB, Utah; Chris Lyles, DB, Mississippi College; Thomas Hennessy, LS, Duke

I'm not sure the Colts were expecting Malik Hooker to still be on the board at No. 15, but they were more than happy to stop his slide out of the top 10. Adding an impact player with All-Pro potential at a position of need was a home run for Indianapolis, and Hooker's athleticism, ball skills and controlled aggression will help him make his mark early this season once he's recovered from hernia surgery.

The Colts attacked their secondary again in Round 2 with the pick of Quincy Wilson. Wilson is a physical corner with good size (6-1, 211) and impressive ball skills who has to clean up the technical aspects of cornerback position to reach his true upside, but he should start opposite Vontae Davis and get a lot of opportunities to make plays.

Tarell Basham was a top-50 player on our board and another high-ceiling pick for Ballard as he rebuilds the defense. Basham has growth potential in his 6-3, 269-pound frame and needs to add bulk before he plays an every-down NFL role, but his athleticism and fluidity give him great long-term upside as well as the traits to make an early impact rushing off the edge.

Indianapolis attacked another annual weakness in the late-fourth round with tackle Zach Banner. Banner is a solid athlete at 6-8 and 353 pounds who had a rough week of practices at the Senior Bowl and needs to work on his balance and play to his size, especially in pass protection.

Frank Gore continues to stave off Father Time, but Marlon Mack adds depth to the Colts backfield as a powerful runner who shows good quickness and burst on the inside. His upright running style is a negative at just under 6-0, which is tall for a running back, but he'll have an opportunity to climb the depth chart behind Gore if he impresses in camp.

The Colts attacked the third and final level of their defense by picking Grover Stewart with their final fourth-round pick. Stewart started to garner buzz after dominating NFLPA Game practices and ended up being the draft's most-requested player as intrigue continued to build. He ran a 5.11 40-yard dash at 6-4, 334 but is a project who needs work before he'll be ready to contribute at the NFL level.

Nate Hairston is a former wide receiver who played cornerback his final two years at Temple. The light flipped on for Hairston as a senior and he showed well at the Shrine Game, but he needs to gain experience and work on his technique in order to hit his ceiling.

Indianapolis' last pick was one of its best values, as Anthony Walker Jr. had a solid third-round grade on our board. He possesses good range and is explosive and forceful moving downhill while also showing the ability to run down the seam with tight ends. At just under 6-1 his height could hurt him in some matchups, but he has the look of a three-down linebacker as a third-day pick.

The Colts had one of the best UDFA hauls in the league this season, led by Darrell Daniels. A borderline fourth-rounder on our board, Daniels ran a 4.50 40-yard dash at 6-3, 247 and should have no issue stretching the seam for Andrew Luck and the Colts offense. He's a natural receiver who needs to get stronger and improve his run blocking to be more than just a move tight end.

Garrett Sickels and Jhaustin Thomas add more depth to the Indianapolis defensive line. Sickels was productive as a first-step lineman at Penn State but lacks the size (6-3, 261) for defensive end and the speed (4.82) to play linebacker. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Thomas is a freaky athlete with good upside who flashed for Iowa State after transferring from junior college. He's very worthy of a practice-squad spot.

Bug Howard and Trey Griffey are both taller receivers with good upside who show the ability to make tough catches and the upside to become solid depth as possessions receivers on Sundays.

Analysis: It's difficult to look at what Ballard did in his first draft with the Colts and not be impressed. He upgraded the defense with high-upside players without sacrificing value, and the lone offensive player Indianapolis drafted could see action as a rookie. Ballard attacked every level of the defense with draft picks and signings, and the Colts should look very different on that side of the ball in 2017. Grade: A-