Indianapolis Colts' Biggest Combine Takeaways
With the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine now in the books, we'll turn our attention back to our mock drafts and free-agency predictions very soon.
But before we do that, let's go over all the key takeaways from recent news for Indianapolis. The past weekend was an active one, and the Colts were not free from rumors, drama and moving draft stock.
The key is picking out what actually could affect the Colts come May. With that in mind, here are my eight biggest takeaways from the Colts' recent news.
Free Agency Will Probably Be Quiet
Although the Colts have nearly $40 million in cap space for 2014, according to Spotrac, don't expect the Colts to go after big-name players in the upcoming free-agency period.
According to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts are anticipating a fiscally responsible free-agency period this year as opposed to last season. In 2013, the Colts signed players like RT Gosder Cherilus, S LaRon Landry, DE Ricky Jean Francois and CB Greg Toler to somewhat expensive contracts. Cherilus and Landry were the most notable of the group.
Considering that even that group isn't filled with blue-chip free agents, the chance that the Colts would go after any big names in 2014, such as S Jairus Byrd or C Alex Mack, is slim.
That's not to say the Colts won't spend in free agency. The money will be spent, but expect more short contracts as the Colts look forward to Andrew Luck, Jerrell Freeman and T.Y. Hilton contracts in coming years.
But Eric Decker Is a Possibility
"Kyle, you just said that the Colts aren't going to go after any big-name free agents, so why is Eric Decker's face on this slideshow?"
That's a phenomenal question.
Despite the Colts' insistence that they will stay away from "big-money" contracts, Vic Lombardi of Denver's CBS4 mentioned Tuesday that the team is interested in Eric Decker in free agency:
Among the teams that have interest in Eric Decker ... Indy. If he can't play with PFM, he'd love to roll with Andrew Luck.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 27, 2014
If true, it's an odd move for Indianapolis. Decker has played with Peyton Manning for the last two years in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league, which has artificially raised his numbers. Decker, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke, is looking for No. 1 receiver money, which is something that he's probably not worth.
If the Colts want to go for a top receiver in this year's free agency, I'd look for a guy like Seattle's Golden Tate, San Francisco's Anquan Boldin or Green Bay's James Jones way before I looked at Decker.
Colts Like Where They're At
When asked about the possibility of moving up in the draft this past weekend, Ryan Grigson seemed to indicate that the Colts were content with where they rest at No. 59 overall.
Per the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder, Grigson said:
Our board is pretty heavy with talent. We feel like with all the quality juniors that came out that if there's a year not to have a (number) 1, we're happy that this is the year because there are some quality football players that will be there for us at (Round) 2 and the rounds after.
Grigson's assessment is one shared by many, especially at the receiver position. NFL Network's Mike Mayock recently called this draft the best receiver draft he's seen in years (h/t David Fucillo of Niners Nation).
With the depth available and the high cost of moving up, it would be a major surprise if the Colts traded up come May.
Jordan Matthews Rising out of Reach
With all the depth at wide receiver, senior Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews was one of the targets I profiled early on as a potential second-round pick. Unfortunately, Matthews may just be playing himself out of the Colts' reach.
Matthews' lack of explosion and high-end speed was the biggest question about him prior to the combine, and he squashed a lot of those fears with a 4.46 40-yard dash. Matthews also confirmed his strength with 21 reps in the bench press and his route-running and fluidity in drills. With fantastic measurables to go along with strong drills, Matthews had as good of a combine as one could have.
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews has the biggest hands among WRs at the NFL Combine - 10 3/8. Measurements: 6-3, 212.— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) February 21, 2014
Having already had a solid Senior Bowl week, Matthews only helped himself even more with a strong combine. While Matt Miller's most recent draft has Matthews taken at No. 60, others have him creeping up toward the first round:
Vandy's Jordan Matthews runs a 4.4. Dominated SEC, very smart, big WR, if he's not a first rounder I have no idea what NFL wants.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) February 23, 2014
Donte Moncrief Rising into Discussion
Another receiver to have a strong combine was Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief. Unlike Jordan Matthews, however, Moncrief still seems to be in the Colts' range. CBS Sports had Moncrief as a projected third or fourth-round pick prior to the combine, and even Moncrief's blazing 4.40 40-yard dash shouldn't boost him out of the Colts' reach.
A big-bodied receiver at 6'2", 221 pounds, Moncrief is an experienced route-runner with strong hands, arguably the two most important characteristics for a receiver. While Moncrief isn't one of the draft's best route-runners or pure pass-catchers, his combination of base skills and physical talent is unique.
With high upside along with a strong base of fundamental skills, it seems unlikely that Moncrief would last until the Colts' third-round pick at this point. Depending on how NFL teams value him, he could be a bit of a reach in the second, but his skill set gives him an edge that would make him well worth it in my mind.
Colts Support Jonathan Martin
Whether the Colts are considering bringing offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in or not is unknown, but if they are, the former Stanford player has supporters.
While neither player actively expressed a desire to sign Martin, both were clear in their support of the player when asked. Does this mean the Colts will bring him in?
No. We don't even know if they're exploring the possibility. But the Indianapolis locker room is likely one of the best environments for Martin right now, and if the Colts consider moving him to guard, it could work out well football-wise as well.
Vontae Davis Will Be a Colt
While the wedding hasn't taken place yet, the Colts and Vontae Davis are on their way. Let's say they're still in the engagement stage. Nothing is guaranteed, but both sides want the long-term deal to get done, reports Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star.
Davis likes Indianapolis, the Colts like Davis' press-man cover skills in their hybrid defense. It's a win-win for everybody. If worse comes to worst, the Colts have the cap space to slap Davis with the franchise tag for a year.
In the end, Davis will be a Colt next season. If he's not, something went horribly wrong in the Colts' offseason.
Pep Hamilton's Not Going Anywhere
Despite some hand-wringing by fans and analysts, the Colts are insisting that the hiring of offensive guru Rob Chudzinski means nothing about Pep Hamilton's future as the Colts' offensive coordinator.
According to Mike Wells of ESPN.com, Grigson sees Chudzinski as an additional resource, not a replacement.
First and foremost, I'll say Chud is a resource. His role will continue to evolve. He's a great football mind to bounce things off of. He's going to do evaluations. He's going to help in all three phases; special teams, defense, offense, player evaluation, game day, all those types of things to help our head coach and help our team and help us get better. I think it's a great pickup.
It really is a welcome addition in Indianapolis, which desperately needed another offensive voice through much of last season. With Pagano's background being on the defensive side of the ball and Pep Hamilton having limited NFL experience, Chudzinski's background is extremely helpful.