Indianapolis Colts Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama – Round 1
Indianapolis has fielded a pathetic offensive line during Andrew Luck’s time in the NFL. It is a testament to how good Luck is that he has bailed out his line year after year and had the Colts one game away from the Super Bowl in the 2015 season. Luck is tremendous, but the terrible line caught up with the Colts last year when he was injured for most of the season. The line also allowed backup Matt Hasselbeck to take a pounding, and Indianapolis had a disappointing season in large part because of the line. The Colts didn’t upgrade their line in free agency, but landed the top interior offensive lineman in the 2016 NFL Draft with Ryan Kelly. He should immediately start for the Colts and provide an instant upgrade to one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines.

In the NFL, Kelly should be a 10-year starter if he stays healthy. Kelly is an intelligent blocker with very good technique and can win blocks with a variety of ways. He has good hand placement and gets a push in the ground game. Kelly is also quick to the second level and does nice job of moving laterally in zone-blocking plays. Kelly is solid in pass protection with the strength to anchor and the quickness to handle speed rushers. He has a ton of experience as a starter in the SEC over the past three seasons with extra games against elite competition in the SEC Championship and college football playoff. He also has been very durable.

I think Kelly is going to be one of the top-10 centers in the NFL and could have a career similar to Nick Mangold with the Jets. I don’t think Kelly is as special of an athlete as Maurkice or Mike Pouncey, but Kelly looks like a very safe bet to be a very good starter for a long time.

Most Likely To Bust

Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas – Round 4
A lot of teams really liked Ridgeway on the field. He is big, quick, and a versatile defender at the point of attack. In most drafts, Ridgeway probably would have gone on the second day, but the depth at defensive tackle was one of the prime things that pushed him into the fourth round. The other issues that hurt Ridgeway with teams were off the field, and I think those problems could lead to him being a bust in the NFL.

Sources have said that they downgraded Ridgeway significantly because they get the impression that he doesn’t really like football. They think that Ridgeway won’t be motivated to work hard and that he is a one-contract type of player.

Perhaps Ridgeway will play hard when he has the motivation of a new contract, or maybe he matures in the NFL and becomes dedicated to maximizing his career. However, the off-the-field drive issues were heard from a variety of teams and they sound serious. Thus of the Colts’ earlier selections, I think Ridgeway has the most bust potential.

Potential Boom Pick

Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech – Round 3
Clark is a boom-or-bust type prospect, and if he gets good coaching, he could turn into a dynamite tackle for the Colts. Clark has the physical skill set to be a franchise left tackle in the NFL, and if he plays up to his potential, Indianapolis could have a very good left tackle and move Anthony Castonzo to right tackle.

Clark has ideal size with serious quickness and athleticism. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder is strong, and has phenomenal length to block on the edge. From a skill-set perspective, Clark has everything that a NFL team looks for in a left tackle. He has quick feet with athleticism and agility to mirror speed rushers. Given his length, Clark can be hard for defenders to get around. He also has enough strength to get movement in the ground game. Clark would fit well in a zone-blocking scheme as he has the athletic ability to move well in space.

However, Clark’s technique needs a ton of work for the NFL. He has to learn hand placement, getting his feet to put him in good position, not reaching after blockers and being ready to defend rushes to the inside. When Clark uses his feet well and bends at the knee, that gets him in good position and he can’t be beaten. The problem is that his execution isn’t consistent. The Senior Bowl gave evidence to that as he got destroyed on some plays and looked phenomenal on others.

If Clark gets good coaching, he could be a tremendous boom pick in the third round. The Colts were fortunate to land a talent like him, and now it is on them to coach him up.

Future Depth Player

Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida – Round 4
Morrison was a tough-as-nails competitor for Florida last season. It was understated in the media, but he made an Adrian Peterson like recovery from a knee tear that he had in spring football, but came back to play the 2015 season and was a steady contributor for one of the best defenses in the nation. Morrison is a tough run defender who has instincts and tackling ability, but he is short on pass-cover skills for the NFL. Thus, I think he will be more of a backup, rotational linebacker who also should contribute on special teams. Avoiding injury is a key factor to Morrison panning out in the NFL.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

18. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama B+ Grade
This is the definition of a solid pick, which in turn deserves a solid grade. Ryan Kelly received some buzz leading up to the draft, and it was speculated that he would be chosen in the top 20. The Colts made the most sense for him. Indianapolis absolutely needed to upgrade Andrew Luck’s horrific pass protection, and Kelly fills a huge need right in the middle of the offensive line.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

57. T.J. Green, S, Clemson A- Grade
The Colts moved down and obtained a prospect who could’ve been chosen a bit earlier than this selection. I like it. T.J. Green is highly athletic, and it’s possible that he might be able to play cornerback in the NFL. If not, he can settle in at safety, which was also a huge need for the Colts entering this weekend.

82. Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech A- Grade
I wonder if someone sat Ryan Grigson down and explained to him how important it was to protect Andrew Luck. Grigson had shown a complete disregard toward bolstering Luck’s protection prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, but he has obviously changed his strategy. It’s obviously for the best though, as Luck will surely like this pick. Le’Raven Clark could’ve been chosen at the end of the second round, making this a nice value choice.

116. Hassan Ridgeway, NT, Texas B+ Grade
This is the very definition of a boom-or-bust pick. Hassan Ridgeway came out a year too early and didn’t have much production at Texas. He was bothered by injuries, and there was work-ethic concerns as well. Some teams told us they were interested in taking him in the second round before really digging into him. This could pan out for the Colts though; Ridgeway has lots of talent, and nose tackle was a need for sure.

125. Antonio Morrison, ILB, Florida C+ Grade
Antonio Morrison was one of the worst testers at the Combine, showing a severe lack of athleticism. Morrison is also coming off a torn meniscus, so perhaps that had something to do with it. This is a bit early for Morrison, but it’s not an egregious reach. He could potentially fill the need Indianapolis has at inside linebacker.

155. Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State A Grade
Joe Haeg went a bit later than expected. Haeg, who protected Carson Wentz’s blind side, has plenty of athleticism and length to be a left tackle, and the ability is certainly there. He didn’t face the toughest competition in school, but he projects as a solid blocker. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started on the right side in the near future, which is a big hole for Indianapolis.

239. Trevor Bates, DE/OLB, Maine C+ Grade
I’m not going to lie: I had absolutely nothing on Trevor Bates. He wasn’t in my top 400, and after looking around, no one had him ranked either. Bates is an edge rusher who tallied four sacks in 2014, so that doesn’t sound too exciting.

247. Austin Blythe, C, Iowa B+ Grade
Is anyone surprised that the Colts selected four offensive linemen after what transpired last season? It’s exactly what they had to do, so Ryan Grigson needs to be commended. At any rate, Austin Blythe is just a middling athlete with short arms, but he should be able to evolve into a solid backup center in the NFL.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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