Kevin Weidl of ESPN outlines why there should be no debate regarding the Indianapolis Colts’ first pick in the upcoming 2012 draft before moving on to the second round.
Nevertheless, while nearly everyone is convinced Stanford QB Andrew Luck will be joining the Colts, the direction of the 34th pick is far less clear.
With HC Chuck Pagano and DC Greg Manusky coming to town, the Colts will be swapping out the 4-3/Tampa 2 defense for a 3-4 or hybrid defense. This change signifies even more draft possibilities for a team that already had plenty of holes. The offensive rebuilding project will beg for attention as well, so it’s difficult to limit prospects to one side of the ball.
Defensive options: As Weidl suggests, the Colts will require a strong anchor, so don’t be surprised if Pagano tries to snatch up massive NT Dontari Poe out of Memphis, who would be expected to do his best Haloti Ngata impression. There’s also uncertainty at DE, so if Nick Perry (USC) made it through the end of the first round, he would warrant a long look. Colts fans know well the value of a solid strong safety and would love to see Mark Barron (Alabama) fall to them, but unless he does and with so many other needs remaining, the early second round will likely prove too early for a position of lower value.
Offensive options: Assuming Luck at #1 and the departure, the Colts will want to put him in position to succeed right away. One could see them giving Luck a weapon at WR, and while Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) likely won’t last through the end of the first round, Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) could. OL is another obvious area for the Colts to address, and if they do, look for them to go with the best player available.
Given all of the above, and despite the lower positional value of TE, Coby Fleener (Stanford) makes an awful lot of sense here. The position could be valued higher than ever (thanks to Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski‘s monster 2011 season) and Luck would probably love to see such a familiar target as he adjusts to the NFL. A stronger team with fewer needs might target Fleener near the end of the first round, but if he makes it into the second, I’d be surprised to see the Colts pass him up.