Indianapolis Colts go heavy with defensive selections in NFL Draft

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The Indianapolis Colts rebounded last season after a horrendous 2017 campaign. Under new head coach Frank Reich, the Colts went 10-6 and made their first playoff appearance since 2014. One of the top offenses in the league, the Colts racked up 27.1 points per game. Solid defensively, the Colts rounded out the top ten in fewest points allowed at 21.5 per game. Going heavy to add depth to the defense, the Colts used five of their first six draft picks on defense. Let’s take a look at those picks in more detail.

Round 2 (34th) Rock Ya-Sin (CB) Temple

As a freshman at FCS Presbyterian College, Ya-Sin made 15 tackles in 11 games, two as a starter. Earning a starting role the following season, Ya-Sin knocked down nine passes and made 31 tackles. He increased his production to five interceptions and 45 tackles in 2017, earning All-Big South recognition. Ya-Sin transferred to Temple last year as a graduate student, recorded 47 tackles and was first-team All-American Athletic Conference.

Despite finishing 10th in fewest points allowed, the Colts needed help in the secondary due to injuries and depth issues.  The Colts likes to employ more of a zone scheme on defense than Ya-Sin is used to playing. He was primarily responsible for man coverage at Temple. It will be interesting to see how he transitions into perhaps a new role.

Round 2 (49th) Ben Banogu (DE) TCU

Banogu made an immediate impact, recording 45 tackles, five sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss at Louisiana-Monroe. He transferred to TCU the following year but did not play. Bangou was first-team All-Big 12 In 2017 after making 49 tackles, 16.5 for loss of yardage, including 8.5 sacks. After a team-best 18 tackles for loss and 57 tackles last season, Banogu was named to the first-team all-conference.

Looking to bolster the pass-rush, the selection of Banogu was a wise choice. He is seen as a player who can line up at multiple positions, displaying great athleticism and 4.6 speed that was among the best for edge pass rushers. A transition to outside linebacker is possible for Banogu given the Colts depth along the line.

Round 2 (59th) Parris Campbell (WR) Ohio State

Campbell played sparingly as a reserve his freshman season without making a catch. As a sophomore, the made significant contributions in the return game averaging 27.8 yards on 21 returns. One of the team captains in 2017, Campbell scored three times on 40 receptions and averaged 36.6 yards on nine kickoff returns. Earning All-Big Ten honors as a senior, Campbell had 90 catches for over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Despite scoring over 27 points per game last season, the Colts needed to add depth to the wide receiver position. Campbell is extremely fast, posting a 4.31 time in the 40 yard dash at the combine. He adds another deep threat and compliments a receiving group that features T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers and Devin Funchess. Campbell has the capability to take the ball the distance on any given play.

Round 3 (89th) Bobby Okereke (LB) Stanford

Okereke made 41 tackles as a starter in 2106 and increased his production to 96 tackles and four sacks in 2017, earning honorable mention All-Pac 12.  Last season, Okereke made a team-high 96 tackles including 7.5 for loss of yardage, to go along with two forced fumbles. His efforts were good enough for honorable mention recognition for the second straight year.

Continuing their trend to improve on the defensive side of the ball, the selection of Okereke adds to the linebacking group. He is projected to play middle linebacker, which is currently manned by Anthony Walker. The best bet for Okereke this season is a spot on the special teams with limited time as a reserve on defense.

Round 4 (109th) Khari Willis (S) Michigan State

Willis played in nine games as a freshman in 2015 before missing the end of the season with a broken foot. He increased his production to 30 tackles the following season and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2017 after recording 71 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. Once again an honorable mention as a senior, Willis had 84 tackles and 10 passed knocked down.

The Colts already have an abundance of safeties, however injury issues are a concern among all of them. They traded both of their fourth round selections to move up significantly in order to draft Willis. Given the situation at safety, expect Willis to compete for playing time in training camp.

Round 5 (144th) Marvell Tell III (S) USC

Tell started two games during his freshman season and made 36 tackles in 10 games. As a sophomore, he made 43 tackles with an interception. He made first-team All-Pac 12 the following season with 85 tackles and three interceptions. Last season, Tell made ten starts and recorded 57 tackles with five passes broken up.

With four of the first six selections going towards the defensive side of the ball, the Colts looked hard to improve an area that was 11th overall last year. Although a safety in college, the Colts will likely use him at cornerback.  Probably not a starter this season, Tell has a shot to develop into that role down the road.

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