It’s no secret that the Colts defensive backfield needs a massive makeover this offseason. Vontae Davis had a sub-par year and Greg Toler is a dumpster fire for the most part. Heck, even Darius Butler had a bad season. The Colts drafted D’Joun Smith from Ohio State last season, but he dealt with injury after injury and couldn’t get on the field much to show if he was a future starter or not. Smith has the talent to be a mainstay in the defensive backfield, but without seeing what he really can do it’s too much of a risk for the Colts to hang their hat on him. Mike Adams and Dwight Lowery held their own this season and I do think they can do the same next season with Clayton Geathers growing his talents this offseason. The cornerback position was dreadful this past year and the Colts desperately need to inject some talented youth into the mix.
I have said it since the season ended, “The Colts’ biggest need is offensive line.” The only way they pass on a premier offensive lineman in the first round is if an amazing pass rush OLB falls to 18 or a shutdown corner is the best player available. That is the only way they pass on an offensive lineman in the first round…I hope. There is plenty of talent at the cornerback position in the upcoming draft and hopefully the Colts can land someone that can stay healthy, have an immediate impact on the Colts defense, and get drafted at a reasonable position.
Here is my list of potential cornerbacks. Enjoy.
1. Jalen Ramsey-CB (Florida State)
Before anyone says anything, yes I am aware that Ramsey will more than likely not be available at #18, but we have seen stranger things happen. Marcus Peters fell to the Chiefs at #18 last season so there is hope. Ramsey is the cream of the crop when it comes to cornerbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has great size and speed and possess great vision on the field. He loves contact and wraps up his tackles instead of trying to make a highlight reel hit. Ramsey will be a star in the NFL and if the Colts are lucky enough to land him he could eventually take over as the best defensive back on the team in a year or two. Ramsey is an absolute playmaker and is what the Colts need in the defensive backfield. Having he and Vontae on the field at the same time would be amazing to watch and would make the back end of the Colts defense as solid as it was in 2014. Ramsey is no doubt a reason to pass on an offensive lineman in the first round, but only if the Colts are lucky enough to land him.
2. Vernon Hargreaves III-CB (Florida)
Hargreaves had a great 2015 campaign landing him as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Hargreaves has been touted since the beginning of the college football season as the next big thing for his position in the NFL. Everyone knew he was going to play out this season and enter the draft and he put up numbers that show why he belongs. He posted 4 interceptions this year and was a leader for the Gator defense. Hargreaves is a special talent, but sometimes can fall prey to playing with too much aggression. He isn’t the greatest tackler in the world, but he can get the job done for the most part. Hargreaves isn’t on the same level as Jalen Ramsey, but he isn’t a slouch either. He should go in the first round, but he could be available to the Colts as he could possibly continue to slide out of the top 10.
3. Kendall Fuller-CB (Virginia Tech)
Fuller is an “iffy” pick for some, but not for me. Fuller suffered a torn meniscus this past season and only played in three games. However, his body of work speaks for itself. Fuller isn’t as talented as his brother Kyle Fuller, cornerback for the Chicago Bears, but he has talent nonetheless. This past season is full of “what if’s” for Fuller, but they are viable questions. What if Fuller doesn’t tear his meniscus? Well he could have been first team All-American and a sure-fire first round pick like his brother. What if he played the whole season and could be the best corner in the nation? No one knows and those questions could go on and on. Obviously with his injury and lack of tape for 2015 he won’t be drafted in the first round and more than likely will fall out of the second. His area right now is the third and fourth rounds. These are the rounds where teams will gamble a little on players with superior talent. Todd McShay has said that Fuller has a chance of going in the first, but I can’t see that happening. If Fuller goes in the second round I won’t be surprised, but that is a stretch to me as well and only if corners are flying off the board.
4. KeiVarae Russell-CB (Notre Dame)
Russell’s 2015 season didn’t end on a high note like many other’s seasons did. He suffered a broken tibia against Boston College which ended his season. That doesn’t take away from the tremendous talent that Russell has displayed during his time with the Irish. Russell was the best cornerback the Irish had and played that way. He blankets receivers and shows a great knack for pushing receivers toward the sidelines on deep routes. He can plays the ball well and has shown to have ball-hawking skills. Despite what some have said about him, Russell is a great cover corner who is physical and has no problem playing the run just as well as he plays the pass. He doesn’t make spectacular plays or tackles, but he gets the job done which is what the Colts truly need. He won’t come up with many interceptions, but he will get his hand in and knocks balls loose and make sure it’s an incomplete pass or a possible forced fumble. Russell has some baggage that comes with him as well. He missed the 2014 season due to academic problems though he seems to have turned that around. He was part of the investigation into academic dishonesty and was suspeneded from Notre Dame for the rest of the fall and all of the next spring semester. He completed his suspension and was allowed back in at the end of May 2015. He will have to prove that he isn’t a waste of talent who rides the coattails of others. He has a great size for the NFL, but his broken leg is going to hamper his draft status. He could possibly recover by the time the combine rolls around, but that might be pushing it. If he misses the combine he will have to shine at the ND Pro Day to have a chance of going on day two of the NFL Draft.
5. Deiondre Hall- CB (Northern Iowa)
Hall is the dark horse in this group. He has all the physical and mental tools to be a star in the NFL, but the biggest knock on him is the level of competition that he faced while at Northern Iowa. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference and many analysts love what they have seen from him. Hall has a big body and the best part is he doesn’t lack the speed to be a press-coverage corner. Hall was invited to the Shrine Game and accepted, but then the Senior Bowl committee called and he ducked out on the Shrine Game for an even bigger stage. He will need it to show everyone in the country that just because he went to a small school doesn’t mean he can’t play with the big boys. Even with a good showing at the Senior Bowl and the Combine Hall likely won’t go before the third round. That’s good news for the Colts who need to focus on their offensive line before anything else anyway.
The Colts, hopefully, aren’t going to re-sign Greg Toler. Also, D’Joun Smith isn’t a proven enough player to think that he will be solid as the #2 corner on this team. Any of these guys would be an immediate upgrade to what the Colts have had the past couple of seasons and I can only assume the issue will be addressed with a decently rounded draft selection and not a free agent or an undrafted pool of guys looking to make a practice squad.