The Indianapolis Colts are coming off of back-to-back disappointing seasons where they were unable to live up to the fans’ expectations. Jim Irsay and company knew that the 2017 NFL Draft was important, especially with Chris Ballard running his first draft with the Colts as the new general manager. Ballard not only did well, he came through with what many in the media believe was one of the best drafts of all teams.
Chuck Pagano held onto his job for at least one more season, despite many calling for his head following last season. Ryan Grigson did fall on the sword, however, after many poor free agency moves and draft classes.
Looking ahead at the upcoming NFL season, the Colts will have a lot of competition in the AFC South. Jacksonville and Houston have improved dramatically this offseason and the Titans are also taking steps to improve.
Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense has been fine for the past few years, but the Indianapolis defense has been a major problem. Ballard made it a point to focus on defense in this year’s draft, which will help take the team back to the top of the AFC. Just a few years back, the Colts were top contenders with the New England Patriots to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
All of that being said, what grade does each 2017 draft pick get for the Indianapolis Colts?
Round 1, Pick 15 – Malik Hooker, Safety
Malik Hooker falling to No. 15 was exactly what Ballard needed to take the defense to the next level. He was widely considered to be one of the top defensive playmakers in the draft, and he just happens to play a position of need for the Colts. Hooker will be asked to step into an immediate role and has the potential to be a true star in the near future.
Round 2, Pick 14 – Quincy Wilson, Cornerback
Another need for the Colts was finding help at the cornerback position across from Vontae Davis. Quincy Wilson is exactly the kind of cornerback that the Colts needed to find. Wilson is NFL ready and will likely start for the Colts come Week 1.
Round 3, Pick 16 – Tarell Basham, Defensive End
Indianapolis saw Robert Mathis retire to start the offseason, which made finding another defensive end a major need. Tarell Basham recorded 9.0 sacks last season at Ohio State and could end up being a steal for the Colts in the third round. He still has a lot of work to do to reach his full potential, but Basham was a great pick by Indianapolis.
Round 4, Pick 31 – Zach Banner, Offensive Tackle
Standing in at 6-foot-8 and 353 pounds, Zach Banner is an absolute monster. Indianapolis has needed to find more protection for Andrew Luck, which is where Banner will come in. He may not play immediately, but with a couple years of hard work, Banner could work his way into the starting lineup.
Round 4, Pick 37 – Marlon Mack, Running Back
Frank Gore isn’t getting any younger, and the Colts knew that they needed to take a running back at some point in the draft. Marlon Mack picked up 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns on 174 carries last season. His numbers vaulted his name up draft boards, and the Colts may have gotten a future starter in the fourth round.
Round 4, Pick 38 – Grover Stewart, Defensive Tackle
Looking at the running backs in the AFC South division alone, the Colts could use all the defensive line help that they can find. Grover Stewart is a big body for the line at 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, which will help defend against the run. He is still a work in progress, but the Colts feel that he will become a role player for them in the future.
Round 5, Pick 14 – Nate Hairston, Cornerback
Nate Hairston is far from a household name and is a very raw talent that the Colts took a flier on. Last season at Temple, Hairston racked up 27 total tackles to go along with two interceptions and three passes defended. Hairston has a lot of work to do to earn a role with the Colts, but as a fifth-round pick, he was worth a shot.
Round 5, Pick 17 – Anthony Walker Jr., Linebacker
Indianapolis finished off their 2017 draft class by selecting Anthony Walker Jr. out of Northwestern. He totaled 105 total tackles to go along with two sacks, an interception, five defended passes, and four forced fumbles. Walker may not be a big name from this draft class, but don’t be surprised if he becomes one for the Colts.
What are your thoughts on the 2017 Indianapolis Colts’ draft class? What grades would you give them for their picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Darron Cummings/AP Images]