The Colts had a pretty good 2018 NFL draft. They filled needs, made good trades, and drafted players with high upside. Let’s get to the grades for each Colts selection.
Round One, Pick Six: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Nelson is a mauling run blocker and a great pass blocker. He has all of the makings of an All-Pro lineman for the next decade. The Colts taking Nelson fills a need and also went with their formula of taking the best player available. They missed out on Bradley Chubb by one pick; Nelson is a very solid consolation prize. Keeping Andrew Luck healthy should be the Colts’ main priority. Nelson should do just that and open up gaping holes for Marlon Mack and co to run through. Six may be a bit high for a guard normally but Nelson is a special talent. He should be a building block for this roster for years to come.
Round Two, Pick 36: Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Darius Leonard adds much needed competition to this linebacker corps. He has excellent range, great length, and good athleticism to go with his instincts. Leonard will be an excellent weak side linebacker day one in the Colts’ 4-3 defensive scheme. Although Leonard is a great player and fills a need, this pick gets docked points due to the fact that they passed on some very good players.
Round Two, Pick 37: Braden Smith, G, Auburn
The Colts doubled up at guard with the pick of Braden Smith. He is a big, strong, mauling guard who will help protect Andrew Luck for years to come. Although the Colts have Jack Mewhort, he never seems to be healthy and can play tackle if need be. Smith gets points docked as well due to the talent the Colts passed on. But, the Colts are sticking to their formula of building through the trenches, which is a formula to win.
Round Two, Pick 52: Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers
Turay is a raw edge rusher with incredible potential. He has excellent ball get off and bends around the edge very well. He has the strength, athleticism, and edge rusher to be a big sack guy in the future. Turay could use a counter move and isn’t the best with his hands. Robert Mathis is a huge fan of Turay and could potentially turn him into great pass rusher in the future.
Round Two, Pick 64: Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State
The Colts continued to beef up the trenches with the pick of Lewis. Lewis had a good junior season but struggled last year. He plays with good strength and effort but isn’t very athletic and doesn’t have a go to pass rush move. He projects as a rotational lineman in the Colts’ 4-3 scheme. The Colts left better prospects and more positions of need on the board with the selection of Lewis
Round Four, Pick 104: Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
The Colts opened up day three nabbing the fastest running back in the NFL draft. Hines ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the combine. He is blazing fast and incredibly explosive. Hines can take a screen and turn it into a 30 yard gain. He can even line up in the slot and play some receiver with his great hands. Him and Marlon Mack running behind the Colts’ improved line could make for a running game that gives Andrew Luck quite a bit of help.
Round Five, Pick 159: Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Fountain was the offensive MVP at the East-West Shrine Game and had an incredible Pro-Day, putting up a 4.46 40, 14 reps, and a 42.5 inch vertical jump. The 6’1″ 210 pound receiver is a raw big play threat who provides very good competition in the Colts’ receiver corps.
Round Five, Pick 169: Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss
Jordan Wilkins provides more competition in the Colts’ running back room and gives more evidence that the Colts may use a running-back by committee approach. He is a patient and shifty runner with good size (6’1″, 216) but doesn’t have elite speed and doesn’t run with power.
Round Six, Pick 185: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
Deon Cain is the Colts’ steal of the draft. I personally had a fourth round grade on him but many projected him to go in the second or third round. Cain is a smooth athlete who plays with great physicality and runs his routes very well. He has good quickness and can take the top off of you. A 6’2″ receiver with great speed and route running is a steal in round six. He needs to keep his focus and avoid drops. Don’t be surprised to see Cain steal a starting spot this year in Indianapolis.
Round Seven, Pick 221: Matthew Adams, LB, Houston
Adams is a strong linebacker who ran a 4.63 40 and benched 30 reps at his pro day. He provides more competition in the linebacking corps that plagued the Colts last year.
Round Seven, Pick 235: Zaire Franklin, Syracuse
The Colts spent their last draft pick, whom they traded Henry Anderson for, on another linebacker. I’m surprised they didn’t address corner here given the fact they didn’t take one earlier.
Overall Draft Grade: A-
The Colts didn’t address the cornerback position at all and passed on some high tier talent in round two but overall had a very successful draft. They got an elite talent in Nelson, some excellent front seven players to bolster the trenches. As we see with Philadelphia, building through the trenches is a winning formula. The Colts drafted some skill position players on day two that could become big time contributors in the future. In the end, this draft wasn’t the flashiest for the Colts but should make a big impact on the roster in the years to come.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.