Indianapolis Colts Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 28, 2013

Solid Starter

Hugh Thornton, G, Illinois – Round 3
The Colts had to improve their offensive line this offseason to better protect Andrew Luck. The rookie spent too much of 2012 running away from defenders in the backfield. Indianapolis’ drafting of Thornton and key moves in free agency should result in an improved line for both the short and long terms.

Thornton is an interesting prospect who has a lot of upside to become a starter. He is a good athlete who is very strong. Thornton has surprising speed to go along with power at the point of attack. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder blocks with a mean streak and Illinois had a lot of success running behind him.

Thornton needs to work on his overall technique before he can become a starter for the Colts. He should improve his pass protection and ability to handle speed-rushers. That was evident from watching him at the Senior Bowl. That shouldn’t be an issue once for Thornton as he gains more experience and benefits from pro coaching. He should become a reliable starter in front of Indianapolis’ franchise quarterback in the next couple of seasons.

Most Likely To Bust

Khaled Holmes, C, USC – Round 4
2012 was an extremely disappointing season for Holes. The senior was playing injured, but there were times where he was dominated by the competition. Holmes looks like he needs to seriously improve his strength to handle the heavy and powerful defensive tackles who he will take on in the NFL. Holmes really struggled with physical tackles like Utah’s Star Lotulelei last year.

Many believed that Holmes would fall to the late rounds, but the Colts grabbed him in the fourth round. One of the questions with Holmes is his dedication to football. The 6-foot-3, 302-pounder looked a lot better in previous seasons blocking for Matt Barkley compared to 2012.

Indianapolis doesn’t have to rush Holmes into the lineup, so the team can take its time to try and get him right. However, with his lack of strength and seeming to be interested in other endeavors, it wouldn’t be surprising if he is a wasted pick for the Colts.

Potential Boom Pick

Bjoern Werner, OLB, Florida State – Round 1
I had the Colts taking Werner in my mock draft earlier in the week of the 2013 NFL Draft before changing it in the final forecast. Indianapolis taking an outside linebacker to rush the passer wasn’t a surprise, but Werner didn’t seem like a natural fit for the organization’s 3-4 defense. Many pundits regarded Werner as a 4-3 base end.

However, scouts told that Werner did better than expected in the outside linebacker drills at his pro day and in private workouts. Coming from Germany, Werner got a late start in football so he still has a lot of upside and untapped potential to draw on as he gains more experience.

Some were critical of Werner’s speed and athleticism, but I think that critique was exaggerated. He showed a real ability to turn the corner and beat tackles with speed rushes en route to 13 sacks in 2012. Werner had seven sacks as a sophomore and teams had to account for him.

The Colts can be patient with Werner since they have the luxuy of other veterans on the roster. I think he has the ability to adapt to the 3-4 and could be a boom pick for Indianapolis. It wouldn’t surprise me if Werner is a tough pass-rusher and edge-defender who sets the tone for a big, physical defense.

Future Depth Player

Montori Hughes, NT, Tennessee-Martin – Round 5
The Colts traded up to select Hughes and sacrificed their fourth-round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft to land him. The 6-foot-4, 329-pounder has quickness to go along with his size and strength. He had numerous off-the-field issues that caused him to leave the Tennessee Volunteers program and finish his collegiate career playing in the Ohio Valley conference.

If Hughes can stay out of trouble, he should at least be a solid rotational player for Indianapolis. He can rotate into the game at nose tackle with 2012 fifth-round pick Josh Chapman. Hughes is a good fit in the Colts’ 3-4 defense as a big nose tackle. Hughes has big upside and it will be a task for Indianapolis’ coaching staff to get it out of him. He should be a solid rotational lineman who, at the very least, can fill his gap and take on double-teams.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

24. Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Florida State: C+ Grade
Many see Bjoern Werner as a 4-3 left end, but the Colts apparently don’t agree with that. I have to wonder about this scheme fit, but there’s no denying that Bjoern Werner is one of the top players available. It’ll be interesting to see how Werner fits into this defense.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

86. Hugh Thornton, G, Illinois: B Grade
Solid pick. The Colts had a big need at guard because Mike McGlynn is a sieve. Hugh Thornton should have been taken in this range, so this selection deserves a good grade.

121. Khaled Holmes, C, USC: D Grade
Khaled Holmes probably shouldn’t have been drafted. He couldn’t block anyone last year, and he also has injury concerns. Plus, he doesn’t fill a need. I don’t like this pick at all.

139. Montori Hughes, NT, Tennessee-Martin: B Grade
I thought Montori Hughes should have gone a bit earlier than this. He’ll challenge last year’s fifth-round pick, Josh Chapman, to be the long-term starter at nose tackle. One of those guys should pan out.

192. John Boyett, S, Oregon: B Grade
John Boyett is a solid pick near the end of the sixth round. The Colts hadn’t addressed the secondary yet, which is something they definitely had to do.

230. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State: B Grade
Donald Brown won’t be around much longer, so the Colts needed a running back to pair with Vick Ballard. Kerwynn Williams was pegged to go in this range.

254. Justice Cunningham, TE, South Carolina: B- Grade
Justice Hamilton Cunningham is yet another tight end on Indianapolis’ roster. I’m not sure how he fits in, but this is the last pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, so it’s not worth questioning the pick.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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