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25 prospects Colts fans should watch at the NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: A group of coaches and scouts from various NFL teams observe the action during day two of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – NFL prospects report to the Combine, or underwear Olympics as it’s sometimes called, this week. Franchises will get the chance to interview players, many of whom teams will be speaking with for the first time. Medical checks are always crucial as well. Last year we saw potential first-round pick Maurice Hurst fall to the fifth round after a medical check brought to light his heart condition. For others, medical checks will be an opportunity to show teams they have recovered from a previous injury and are ready to contribute.

The real fun starts March 1 when workouts officially begin. That Friday we’ll see running backs, offensive linemen and special teamers, positions the Colts solidified through last year’s draft. Saturday we’ll watch quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers. Defensive linemen and linebackers will run drills on Sunday, followed by defensive backs on Monday.

While game tape accounts for the majority of a prospect’s evaluation, the Combine is a chance for players to distinguish themselves from the pack. Getting official measurements and times can help teams separate guys who are closely ranked. Though the Combine is far from an end-all-be-all, it will certainly have an impact on most players’ draft stock.

With three draft picks in the first two rounds, and four in the first 90 selections, the Colts have an opportunity to add several more starters to their young nucleus. General manager Chris Ballard’s first two picks last year (Quinton Nelson & Darius Leonard) were elected First-Team All-Pro as rookies. The next Colts star will likely be in Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.

Colts Draft Picks

First Round – 26th Overall

Second Round – 34th Overall (From Jets)

Second Round – 59th Overall

Third Round – 90th Overall

Fourth Round – 123rd Overall

Fourth Round – 135thOverall (Compensatory)

Fifth Round- 154th Overall

Sixth Round – 187th Overall

Seventh Round – 218th Overall

Defensive Ends

Ballard has made it clearthat finding a dominant edge-rusher is his top priority this offseason. Only 11.5 of Indy’s 38 sacks came from defensive ends last season. Jabaal Sheard’s 5.5 sacks led the defensive end group, but the veteran turns 30 in May and is entering the final year of his contract. Last year’s second-round picks Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis showed promise as rookies but have a lot of progress to make before they can be counted on as starters. Even if the Colts sign a pass rusher through free agency, adding young talent through the draft will remain a must. Here’s a glimpse at the top defensive end prospects who might be available for Indianapolis.

Montez Sweat – Senior – Mississippi State

Combine Height: 6’6” – Combine Weight: 260 lbs

Sweat is an explosive athlete with great length and a non-stop motor. He dominatedat the Senior Bowl and could elevate his stock even further with an impressive performance at the Combine.

Brian Burns – Junior – Florida State

Combine Height: 6’5” – Combine Weight: 249 lbs

A long, thin edge-rusher with elite burst and bend, Burns comes equipped with a variety of pass rushing moves. He had 23 sacks in 33 college games but must add weight and strength.

Charles Omenihu – Senior – Texas

Combine Height: 6’5” – Combine Weight: 280 lbs

Omenihu has ideal size and length. His hand-usage improved this season, and his sack total rose as a result. The buzz around Omenihu will grow once his athleticism is on display at the Combine.

Zach Allen – Senior – Boston College

Combine Height: 6’4” – Combine Weight: 281 lbs

Allen is a hard-nosed football player who wins with instincts, effort, grit, size and strength. He displays solid athleticism for his size, but an impressive Combine performance could send his stock soaring.

Chase Winovich – RS Senior – Michigan

Combine Height: 6’3” – Combine Weight: 256 lbs

A polished prospect who plays every down with maximum effort, Winovich’ isn’t an athlete who can bend around the edge. How he tests at the Combine will help teams determine his ceiling.

Oshane Ximines – Senior – Old Dominion

Combine Height: 6’3”  – Combine Weight: 253 lbs

Ximines was highly productive playing in Conference USA but lacks elite physical traits. He’ll need to show out at the Combine to convince teams his skillset is transferable to the pros.

Wide Receivers

Indianapolis lacks the weapons to win shootouts right now. The Colts went 0-5 this past season (including playoffs) when their opponents scored 30 or more points. Chester Rogers finished second among Colts wide receivers with 485 receiving yards. His 30.3 receiving yards per game average was the second-fewest of any team’s number-two wide receiver. Whatever angle you look at it, upgrading the receiving corps should be one of Ballard’s top priorities. Here’s a look at some of the best receiver prospects performing at the Combine.

D.K. Metcalf – RS Sophomore – Ole Miss 

Combine Height: 6’3”– Combine Weight: 228 lbs

A size-speed freak who routinely makes highlight-reel catches, Metcalf is expected to post eye-popping Combine numbers. His medical evaluations will be critical after suffering a broken neck in October.

N’Keal Harry – Junior – Arizona State 

Combine Height: 6’2”– Combine Weight: 228 lbs

Harry has a colossal catch radius and excels at running with the ball in his hands. His ability to separate has been questioned, placing an added emphasis on how he runs at the Combine.

Kelvin Harmon – Junior – North Carolina State 

Combine Height: 6’2”– Combine Weight: 221 lbs

Maybe the most well-rounded receiver in this class, Harmon runs polished routes, has strong hands and good size. He could put himself in the round-one conversation with an impressive 40-yard-dash time.

Deebo Samuel – RS Senior – South Carolina 

Combine Height: 5’11”– Combine Weight: 214 lbs

Samuel has the quickness and route running prowess to make defenders look silly. He is a versatile weapon with experience taking handoffs and returning kicks, but his injury history is concerning.

Riley Ridley – Junior – Georgia 

Combine Height: 6’1”– Combine Weight: 199 lbs

Riley is a bigger version of his brother Calvin, who turned heads as a rookie for the Falcons. Georgia’s run-heavy offense limited his production, but Riley can illustrate his desirable traits at the Combine.

Hakeem Butler – RS Junior – Iowa State 

Combine Height: 6’5”– Combine Weight: 227 lbs

Butler uses his size to box-out defenders, win jump balls and run through defensive backs. Like other large receivers in this class, his performance in the speed drills will determine how high he is drafted.

A.J. Brown – Junior – Ole Miss 

Combine Height: 6’ 1/2″– Combine Weight: 226 lbs

Brown was productive from the slot in college, which is where he belongs in the NFL. He runs crafty routes and is savvy after the catch but lacks top-end speed and burst. Combine measurables will be key.

Defensive Tackles

The Colts received tremendous production last season from a patchwork defensive interior. Denico Autry led the team with 9 sacks and has two more years on his contract. Margus Hunt’s 5 sacks were fourth-most, but the veteran is set to become a free agent and will turn 32 this summer. Team captain Al Woods was the run-stuffer of the group, but like Hunt, he’s also an impending free agent that will turn 32 before the season begins. Today’s NFL places added emphasis on pressuring the quarterback from inside. Finding a cornerstone at defensive tackle is a box the Colts need to check.

Christian Wilkins – Senior – Clemson

Combine Height: 6’3”– Combine Weight: 315 lbs

Wilkins was a highly productive three-year starter with excellent quickness, hands and versatility. His character is off the charts. Wilkins needs to increase his power to improve at the point of attack.

Jerry Tillery – Senior – Notre Dame

Combine Height: 6’6”– Combine Weight: 295 lbs

Tillery possesses power and exceptional length, while being an above average athlete at his position. His repertoire of moves expanded in 2018, but his hand usage needs to be more consistent.

Dre’Mont Jones – RS Junior – Ohio State

Combine Height: 6’3”– Combine Weight: 281 lbs

Jones is a gap penetrator, who used good hand technique and impressive all-around athleticism to rack up 8.5 sacks in 2018. He should dominate the Combine, but strength deficiencies hurt him against the run.

Dexter Lawrence – Junior – Clemson

Combine Height: 6’4”– Combine Weight: 342 lbs

Men of Lawrence’s size don’t normally move as well as he does. He’s a run-stuffing nose tackle who can push the pocket, but teams will have questions about a PED suspension that cost him the playoffs.

Cornerbacks

The Colts’ cornerback group exceeded expectations in 2018. Quincy Wilson, a 2017 second-round pick, played wellover the second half of the season, which has inspired optimism toward his ability to take another step forward next year. Slot cornerback Kenny Moore experienced a breakout season. He led Indy with three interceptions, was third on the team in tackles and added 1.5 sacks. Pierre Desir impressed as well and played his first full 16-game season of his career. Desir is an impending free agent who turns 29 in September. The decision or resign him will determine if the Colts are drafting for need or depth at the position come April.

Deandre Baker – Senior – Georgia

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 185 lbs

Baker is an intelligent, feisty corner with great physicality, anticipation and ball-skills. The Combine is an opportunity for him to answer questions about his long speed.

Bryon Murphy – RS Sophomore – Washington

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 182 lbs

Murphy is a quick-twitch athlete with tremendous instincts and awareness. He hits harder than his frame would suggest, but his modest length amplifies the importance of testing well at the combine.

Rock Ya-Sin– Senior – Temple

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 189 lbs

The coolest name in this year’s draft, Ya-Sin is a fluid athlete who shows good speed, toughness and is a reliable tackler. His competitive attitude and skill-set fit what the Colts are building on defense.

Trayvon Mullen – Junior – Clemson

Listed Height: 6’1”– Listed Weight: 195 lbs

Though rarely tested at Clemson, Mullens has the speed to stick with receivers down the field and the quicks to mirror them underneath. His Combine numbers need to match the athleticism shown on tape.

Julian Love– Junior – Notre Dame

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 193 lbs

Love displays fantastic instincts, ball skills, toughness and is tremendous in run-support. The biggest concern about him is speed, which makes it imperative that he runs well at the Combine.

Safeties

Malik Hooker rebounded well this past year after tearing his knee as a rookie. The 2017 first-round pick is cornerstone of this defense moving forward. Clayton Geathers is a team captain and effective when healthy. However, Geathers has never played a full 16-game season and is set to become a free agent. Mike Mitchell was an excellent mid-season acquisition but is also a free agent and will turn 32 this summer. Matthias Farley spent most of last season on IR but is a quality rotational safety who can start if need be. Farley is a restricted free agent who is expected to return. Depending on how free agency shakes out, safety could be a need for the Colts in 2019.

Johnathan Abram – Senior – Mississippi State

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 205 lbs

Abram is a hard hitting, downhill safety, who would be a great compliment to Hooker’s ball-hawking style of play on the back end. An impressive Combine workout could cement his status as a first-round pick.

Nasir Adderley – Senior – Delaware

Listed Height: 5’11”– Listed Weight: 195 lbs

Adderley is quick to recognize plays and explodes to the ball. He’s a reliable tackler and displays exceptional ball-skills. A former cornerback, Adderley appears capable of playing that position in the Colts’ zone scheme.

Taylor Rapp– Junior – Mississippi State

Listed Height: 6’0”– Listed Weight: 200 lbs

A versatile safety who’s has success playing deep and in the box, Rapp shows good anticipation, tackles well and is a tremendous blitzer (5 sacks in 2018). His biggest knock is a lack of elite athletic traits.

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