What Positions Should the Indianapolis Colts Be Targeting in the NFL Draft?

Kyle J. Rodriguez@@coltsauth_kyleCorrespondent IMay 2, 2014

Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey celebrates with safety Jimmie Ward after their 30-27 victory over Iowa in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Every fan and analysts has favorite NFL prospects that they'll be looking at during the draft next week, prospects they know better than others. It's impossible for any one person to know each of the 300-plus prospects available. Part of the way we look to aid fans in the preparation for the draft is by narrowing it down to certain players that fit what the franchise should be looking for and introducing those players. 

Another way to narrow down the process is by identifying certain positions that can be labeled as "needs." For the Indianapolis Colts, this isn't quite as helpful by itself, as nearly every position could be labeled as a need for the franchise.

So instead of merely creating a list of positional needs, today we are going to look at each position and each round of the draft, creating a veritable game plan for the Colts. 


Early Rounds

The Colts have a second and a third-round pick on the second day of the draft, and it's unlikely that the team will be able to move up into the first round, according to ESPN's Mike Wells

With just two early picks, the Colts have to be smart about the positions they spend said picks on. With this draft being so deep, it's very possible to draft instant starters in both the second and third rounds. There are two positions that need instant starters and should be upper-tier targets: safety and center. 

Both of these positions have some developmental prospects and depth already on the team, with Khaled Holmes at center and Delano Howell at safety. More depth could be used at safety, but a true starter to pair with LaRon Landry is the real target in this year's draft. You could also throw nose tackle in this category, although slightly lower on the totem pole. 

But an immediate starter isn't the only possibility in the early rounds. It's also a good place to look for long-term starters, especially if one drops unexpectedly. The Colts could be looking for long-term starters at wide receiver, cornerback, inside linebacker, edge-rusher and guard.

Running back is also a sleeper here. Right now, the Colts have three backs whose collective ceiling is fairly low, depending on Trent Richardson's development. 

These long-term starters would potentially be players who fell and would compete with starters immediately for playing time. Whether they actually started this season would be moot. 


Late Rounds

In the late rounds, Indianapolis should be targeting positions that need depth or competition behind the starters, positions that can also contribute on special teams and positions that could use young prospects to develop behind entrenched starters. 

Positions that need depth include guard, nose tackle, cornerback, offensive tackle and tight end. Special teams contributions could be had by many positions, but especially running backs, cornerbacks and linebackers. Young developmental talent would be ideal at offensive line, edge-rushers, inside linebacker, cornerback and safety. 

Antoine Bethea, one of the best examples of late-round talent being effective early and often.
Antoine Bethea, one of the best examples of late-round talent being effective early and often.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Now, don't get me wrong, the late rounds of the draft are unpredictable and wild. Really, the best way to attack them is by following your board. Take the best talent left, and trust that its most effective uses will be figured out later. The draft should never be a place where you lock yourself into one position, and the late rounds are no different. 

But with a broad framework in place, we can now identify ideal rounds in which prospects would be available at certain positions. 



Target Rounds: None

Ideal Role: None

The team doesn't need another quarterback. If the Colts want a new backup quarterback, they should look at undrafted free agents. There's no need to waste a draft pick on one.


Running Back

Kent State's Dri Archer is one potential running back target.
Kent State's Dri Archer is one potential running back target.USA TODAY Sports

Target Rounds: 3rd-5th

Ideal Role: Third-down back and potential return man

Colts fans won't want to see the team spend an early pick on a running back, and I don't blame them. But if the Colts trade down and pick up an extra fourth or fifth-round pick, a running back could be an excellent pickup. I don't trust any of the current backs on the roster. 


Wide Receiver

Target Rounds: 2nd-5th

Ideal Role: Future starting receiver, potential Reggie Wayne replacement

There's no need to draft another developmental, late-round project with Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill on the roster. If the Colts draft a receiver, it should be early in the draft. In a draft as deep as this, the fifth round could still yield excellent talent, but the second or third round would be ideal. 


Tight End

Target Rounds: 6th-7th

Ideal Role: Third tight end, special teamer

Both the short and long-term starters at tight end are locked into place, but the depth behind Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener doesn't inspire confidence. 


Offensive Tackle

Target Rounds: 5th-7th

Ideal Role: Developmental tackle with versatility to swing inside for depth

Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus are the starters, but more depth on the offensive line is always appreciated. 


UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is the only guard I would want to take in the second round.
UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is the only guard I would want to take in the second round.Alex Gallardo/Associated Press


Target Rounds: 2nd-7th

Ideal Role: Depth guard with upside to compete with Hugh Thornton for a starting role

The Colts' situation at guard is complicated. Thornton and Donald Thomas are the starters, but it's certainly upgradeable. Plus, there may be a possibility of Thomas shifting inside to play center, so strong depth is a must. 



Target Rounds: 2nd-3rd

Ideal Role: Starting center

There's little desire to draft a developmental center when Holmes is on the roster. If the Colts go center (outside of general OL depth), it should be early with a player who can compete to start right away. 


Nose Tackle

Target Rounds: 2nd-7th

Ideal Role: Starter or potential starter to compete with Josh Chapman

Chapman is really the only true nose tackle on the roster currently, so the Colts could look for help at any point in the draft. With other needs being more critical early, I'd prefer them to wait until later in the draft. 


Defensive End

Target Rounds: None

Ideal Role: None

The Colts are incredibly deep at defensive end with Cory Redding, Ricky Jean Francois and Arthur Jones all likely rotating as starters. Then you have depth/developmental players like Fili Moala, Montori Hughes and Jeris Pendleton. There's really no reason to waste limited draft picks on a 3-4 defensive end.


The Colts have shown interest in Boise State edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence.
The Colts have shown interest in Boise State edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence.USA TODAY Sports

Outside Linebacker/Edge Rusher

Target Rounds: 2nd-4th

Ideal Role: Future starter at ROLB to replace Robert Mathis, rotational pass-rusher

With Cam Johnson, Bjoern Werner, Justin Hickman and Daniel Adongo on the roster, there's no need to bring in yet another project at the position. But pass-rusher is a huge need, and if the Colts find good talent or value at the position in the early rounds, it would behoove them to acquire it. 


Inside Linebacker

Target Rounds: 2nd-7th

Ideal Role: Future starter, rotational player as a rookie

The Colts' depth at inside linebacker is full of unproven or poor players, outside of Josh McNary. The team needs another long-term starter to pair with Jerrell Freeman, but this draft isn't particularly deep at inside linebacker. They likely won't find a starter in this draft without moving up, but depth is a possibility in any round. 



Target Rounds: 2nd-7th

Ideal Role: Compete with Greg Toler for starting time by the end of the season

Vontae Davis is good and Darius Butler is a decent slot corner, but the rest of the Colts' cornerbacks are questionable to say the least. The team needs both starting talent to compete with Toler and depth, so a corner could come at any time in this draft. 



Target Rounds: 2nd-7th

Ideal Role: Immediate starter

The Colts need both starting talent and depth at safety as well, but the need for depth is a much lesser need. Ideally, the team would look to draft a safety in the second or third round, but the potential to contribute on special teams makes a late-round pick a strong possibility as well. 


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