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Colts 7-round mock v1.0: Pass-rush priority

Georgia's Leonard Floyd and Notre Dame's Nick Martin would be solid picks. (Photos: Icon)

In one month, Ryan Grigson will make the second-most-important draft decision of his career.
The Colts hold the 18th pick in the first round. Aside from the aberration of 2012, when they wound up with Andrew Luck at No. 1, this will be the highest they’ve picked since 2002, when Bill Polian ignored the doubts about a particular prospect’s size and trusted Dwight Freeney’s ability and wound up with one of the most prolific pass-rushers in NFL history.
It’s a particularly poignant tale, because Grigson desperately needs to make the right choice from a pool of talented but flawed edge rushers in the first round.
Though it’s commonplace for mock drafts to give the Colts an offensive tackle at No. 18 overall, that isn’t as pressing as widely perceived. Joe Reitz can hold down the right side until Denzelle Good is ready, and that may be sooner than you think. The primary O-line needs are in the middle, for a center and at least one guard, and quality players for those positions can be found in the later rounds.
The same is not true of the edge rushers. The strongest defensive counterpoint to the surge of the passing game has been the emergence of defenses with multiple pass-rushers that can attack from a variety of angles. The Colts might be able to get one more good year from Robert Mathis but beyond that, the cupboard is bare. Trent Cole is back for reasons only Grigson understands. Bjoern Werner, Jonathan Newsome and even Daniel Adongo are all gone.
And so, with the most pressing need – but far from the only – need in mind, we present the 2016 Colts Full Mock Draft, v1.0.
FIRST ROUND (18) – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia.
Or maybe Darron Lee of Ohio State. Or Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. Maybe even Shaq Lawson of Clemson or Su’a Cravens of USC. Or possibly even Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame. Each of those prospects has at least one certified NFL-level tangible to encourage belief as a pass-rusher, and each has a major question mark. 
With Floyd, it’s his size (6-4, 232) and the modest production in college that didn’t match his athleticism. Lee has unreal speed (4.43 at the combine, fastest for a linebacker in nearly 10 years and faster than all but six wide receivers) and two big years at Ohio State, but is still very new to the position and has much learning to do. Lawson is more of an end in a 3-4 than a stand-up linebacker. Cravens is more of a hybrid safety. And Spence may be the purest physical prospect of them all but the most troubled personally, given his history of drug-related problems, including a banishment from the Big Ten. 
Smith is the most complete talent but is coming off a major knee injury that could cause him to miss a big chunk of his rookie season. That will cause him to drop out of the top 10 and if he slides all the way to 18, he could prove impossible for the Colts to pass. There seems little chance of him sliding that far, but knee injuries have a way of scaring teams when they’re on the clock.
So why Floyd? Grigson doesn’t like to take character risks early, which rules out Spence. Lawson isn’t likely to be around at 18 but and might not fit the Colts’ scheme-specific needs. Lee is very raw and has intriguing speed, athleticism and potential, but has just two seasons of college experience at the position. 
Floyd is a more complete player. He tackles well, can match up in coverage and appears to have skills more oriented to the NFL than the NCAA.
SECOND ROUND (48) – Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame.
This is where it all starts to make sense. The younger brother of Zack Martin, Nick has the much-desired position flexibility, having started at both center and guard at Notre Dame. He has a fairly complete skill set and also is a natural leader, something the Colts’ line desperately needs.
THIRD ROUND (82) – Dominique Alexander, ILB, Oklahoma.
With Jerrell Freeman’s departure and D’Qwell Jackson’s advancing age, this is an area of near-term need. Alexander (6-0, 230) has speed and cover skills, but isn’t really a thumper in the run game. The Colts have thumpers, for now (Jackson and Nate Irving). They need athletes.
FOURTH ROUND (116) – C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame.
With just one year of full-time experience at the position, Prosise will need time to learn the nuances of becoming an NFL running back. But with Frank Gore, Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman under contract, the Colts don’t have an immediate need. Because all three will be free agents in 2017, they do have a need to develop someone to take over and Prosise has the strength, speed and receiving skills to be a productive three-down back.
FIFTH ROUND (155) – Isaac Seumalu, OL, Oregon State.
Much like Jack Mewhort, played everywhere up front in college, starting at center, both tackle spots and right guard, and would be a more highly ranked prospect if not for lingering concerns over a foot injury that caused him to miss the 2014 season. He has a low center of gravity and developed a reputation as a brick wall in pass protection and a true stalker as a run blocker. If healthy, he could be a steal. 
SIXTH ROUND (194) – Traded to Oakland for ILB Sio Moore.
SEVENTH ROUND (239) – Ian Seau, OLB, Nevada.
They might be tempted to go for a tackle here, but you really can’t have too many pass-rushers. The nephew of the late Junior Seau has nice burst and moves well for a player of his bulk (6-2, 260). He had 18 sacks and 27 tackles for loss his last two seasons. It’s unusual to find a player this intriguing this late in the draft.
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