Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida - Round 2
Indianapolis' secondary has been a weakness for years as former general manager Ryan Grigson neglected the back end of the defense. The Colts have needed help at corner and safety for years. New general manager Chris Ballard did an impressive job of improving the secondary by getting good values with his first two picks with Indianapolis. Wilson could easily have been a late first-round pick, as the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder as an ideal combination of size and speed. He also had good tape from his final season at Florida.
Wilson is excellent at bump and run in pass coverage. He is big enough to be a press-man corner who manipulates the route that receivers can run after his jam. Wilson has good height and length to handle big receivers, plus above-average athletic ability and speed to run with receivers downfield. Wilson isn't as natural in off-man or zone, but he could play those techniques. Many big cornerbacks don't have impressive ball skills, but that is not the case with Wilson as he does a good job of playing the ball. He can make some phenomenal interceptions and also does a nice job of smacking passes away.
I think Wilson will be emerge as a solid starter early in his NFL career. He is a competitor who has the size to match up with big wideouts and should be an asset to defending those of Indianapolis' divison rivals. The Texans' DeAndre Hopkins, Jaguars' Allen Robinson, and Titans' Corey Davis are all receivers who use size to beat cornerbacks. Wilson should help Indianapolis match up against those weapons. He should turn into a quality starter for the Colts and has upside potential to be even better than just a good starter.
2016: Ryan Kelly, C 2015: Henry Anderson, DE 2014: Andrew Jackson, LB 2013: Hugh Thornton, G
Most Likely To Bust
Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio - Round 3
Similar to the secondary, the Colts' edge rush has been a weakness for years as the players who Ryan Grigson brought in didn't work out to be effective edge defenders. Bjoern Werner was particularly a bust, while other free agent signees like Erik Walden weren't quality moves. New general manager Chris Ballard aimed to address the edge linebackers by signing John Simon and Jabaal Sheard, and by drafting Basham in the third round. I liked the draft class that Ballard put together in his first go-around with the Colts, but of their early round picks, I think Basham is the most likely not to work out.
Basham was a good player for Ohio, and he played hard while amassing 11.5 sacks last season. It was a jump in production from his junior (5.5), sophomore (4) and freshman (7.5) seasons. At the Senior Bowl, Basham (6-3, 259) put together a solid week, but he is making a huge jump in competition. He definitely will need some development time to be effective at going against NFL offensive tackles.
Basham has enough size and strength to be an outside linebacker in the Colts' 3-4 defense. He should start out as a backup to Simon and Sheard, but I wouldn't be surprised if Indianapolis is using premium picks on edge defenders in the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts. Of Indianapolis' early round picks, Basham carries the highest risk for being a bust.
2016: Hassan Ridgeway, DT 2015: Clayton Geathers, S 2014: Jack Mewhort, G 2013: Khaled Holmes, C
Potential Boom Pick
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State - Round 1
This was an easy choice for me as I thought Hooker was one of the best players in the 2017 NFL Draft. In late September, 2016, after only starting a few games in his collegiate career, WalterFootball.com was first to report that Hooker was receiving high first-round grades from NFL teams. Hooker was electric to start the season and was a standout in training camp practices. He maintained a dominant level of play throughout his redshirt sophomore season while totaling 74 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, .5 sacks, four passes broken up and seven interceptions with three returned for touchdowns. Hooker was the best safety in college football during the 2016 season, including LSU's Jamal Adams. Hooker was far more consistent and made a lot more big plays than Adams did in 2016.
In coverage, Hooker has great speed and quick feet, plus is extremely athletic with a rare ability to defend the deep part of the field. He is extremely fast and showed it routinely as in an instant he could race over from the middle of the field to the sideline to break up passes or pick them off. He was tremendous at being the single-high safety to protect his defense vertically. Hooker is the epitome of the rangy center fielder who shuts down the back end of the field. That kind of safety with Hooker's interception skills, size, length, and instincts is extremely hard to find.
Another thing that sets Hooker apart is great instincts. For a first-year starter, it was remarkable what a natural he was and how he knew where to be. Hooker wasn't caught out of position and was smart to read quarterback's eyes. His great instincts led him to jump routes and get deep to defend the back end of the field. After snagging interceptions, Hooker is tremendous on returns. His play really reminds one of Ed Reed in his glory years with the Ravens.
According to sources, Hooker slid in the 2017 NFL Draft mainly because of the injury concerns. There was also some concern about him only having one year of playing time, and there some who were critical of his run support, citing a need for him to improve his tackling and take better angles. However across the league, Hooker was viewed as a stud, and scouts from a variety of teams felt that Hooker was one of the top-five prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. The labrum surgery and durability concerns were the biggest factor that caused Hooker to slide out of the top 10. I viewed Hooker as the second-best player in the 2017 NFL Draft because of his rare coverage skills with tremendous speed, ball skills, and play-making potential. I think he was one of the biggest steals of the draft and will be a boom pick for the Colts.
2016: Le'Raven Clark, OT 2015: Philip Dorsett, WR 2014: Donte Moncrief, WR 2013: Bjoern Werner, DE
Future Depth Player
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida - Round 4
The Colts had an impressive draft class, and Mack was one of their good values as other teams thought Mack could have been a third-rounder with the potential to contribute quickly in his NFL career. Mack ran well for South Florida in 2016. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus snatched 28 receptions for 227 yards. 2016 was Mack's third straight 1,000-yard season.
The 5-foot-11, 213-pounder may lack the size to be a three-down starter in the NFL who is a workhorse back, but he could be a very good rotational back and also an asset as a receiving back in passing situations. Mack was an astute pick who should at least be a nice depth and rotational player for Indianapolis.
2016: Antonio Morrison, LB 2015: David Parry, DT 2014: John Ulrick, OT 2013: Montori Hughes, DT
Walt's 2017 NFL Draft Grades:
15. Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: A+ Grade
How in the world did this happen? Some teams considered Malik Hooker to be a top-three prospect in this class, as they made Ed Reed comparisons to him. I know that dumb teams making dumb picks caused him to drop, but seeing him fall to No. 15 is unreal. The Colts needed defensive help, and they're getting a lot of it with Hooker, who could be one of the top safeties in the NFL for a very long time.
46. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida: A- Grade
The Colts obtained a mega steal in Round 1, and now they obtained a slightly lesser steal in the second frame. Quincy Wilson is a talented cornerback who once garnered first-round consideration. That changed as the draft process went on as scouts and front offices had a closer look at him, but he could've been chosen a dozen or so selections earlier than this without much protest. Wilson fills a need for the Colts, who had to upgrade corner.
80. Tarell Basham, DE/OLB, Ohio: B Grade
I had Tarell Basham going 84th overall, so I think he makes sense in this range. Basham was very productive at Ohio and possesses very good athleticism. He has solid upside, and he could turn into a potent pass-rusher for the Colts, who need as much help getting to the quarterback as possible.
137. Zach Banner, G, USC: C Grade
I had the Giants selecting Zach Banner three picks later than this, so it makes sense from a range perspective. However, the fit isn't ideal. Andrew Luck needs blockers who can pass protect, and Banner can't do that. He's a powerful run-blocker, but he's way too slow and won't be able to shield the quarterback.
143. Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida: A Grade
I've had the highly athletic Marlon Mack slotted in the third round pretty consistently, though I did have him in the second frame on occasion. He provides great value at the end of the fourth frame. He could potentially emerge as Indianapolis' starting running back once Frank Gore moves on.
144. Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State: B- Grade
I had Grover Stewart in the seventh round, but I don't mind a home-run selection like this at any point on the third day. Stewart is huge (6-5, 334) and has tremendous athleticism for someone at his size. He has the potential to become a solid starter one day, but his floor is pretty low as well.
158. Nate Hairston, CB, Temple: C Grade
I didn't have Nate Hairston being drafted in my final mock, but I did have him slotted in the seventh round at some point. Either way, this is a reach. Hairston is a major project, as he's a former receiver converting to cornerback, so he's still learning the position.
161. Anthony Walker, ILB, Northwestern: B Grade
Anthony Walker really fell from grace, as he was a potential second-round pick prior to the 2016 season. However, Walker's tape showed that he was very stiff in his change-of-direction ability. He then tested poorly at the combine. Still, the Colts are getting a productive player who could be a solid backup and special-teams player.