1/27 Donald Brown RB (5102/210/4.51c) Connecticut
What’s to like: Most everything. Brown is a surprisingly powerful runner and receiver with a top character and non-stop motor. He’s very elusive and hard to bring down. Strong. Find holes and hits them hard. Quick off the snap. Adjusts well. Can improvise. Advanced spin and power moves. Great nose for the end zone. Runs nice routes and has soft hands. Understand passing game. Very durable. Intelligent.
Second guesses: Doesn’t have elite long speed and isn’t a great blocker. Won’t give you much after the catch.
How he fits: As bad as the Colts were at stopping the run last year (24th in the league), they were far worse at running the ball (31st). Last year’s No. 2 back, Dominic Rhodes, left for Buffalo as a free agent and last year’s No. 3, Mike Hart, tore his ACL. Brown will go to camp as the No. 2 and situational back and will serve in that role unless he shows himself to be a better workhorse. If he works on his blocking, that could be sooner than later. Do not expect to see him play on special teams.
Reminds me of: Clinton Portis
2/56 Fili Moala DT (6040/305/5.07c) Southern California
What’s to like: He’s a big, aggressive DT with lots of experience at what is perhaps college’s best program. Great burst off the line, and a rare ability to move laterally. Good tackler with strong arms and upper body. Can collapse the pocket.
Second guesses: Has unsophisticated pass-rush moves. Not always in the greatest condition and stamina is a concern. Not exactly a Colts-type high-character guy.
How he fits: Moala is there to stop the run. Though they won’t admit it, the Colts’ defense is moving in a different direction. Gone will be the interchangeable rush-rush DTs, replaced by an NT and a UT. The UTs are already in the house, and Moala will complete with vets Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir and fellow rookie Terrance Taylor for the NT spot. Since it’s basically a two-down position, Moala looks like the favorite at this point.
Reminds me of: Chris Hovan
3/92 Jerraud Powers CB (5091/188/4.51c4.43pd) Auburn
What’s to like: Fast and very aggressive corner who was avoided by enemy QBs. Fluid athlete. Excellent short-area burst and closing speed. Breaks well on the ball and usually knows where it is. Not afraid to tackle and does it well for a man his size. Knows how to shed and excels at busting up screens. Came out as a junior, and is seen as an ascending prospect. Decent hands. Seems like a good kid.
Second guesses: He’s 5’9 and 188 pounds. Not great in transition, and can be beaten on pure deep routes. Faces the curse of the Colts’ third rounder.
How he fits: He’s a nice hit-and-bail prospect who can be very effective on short and intermediate routes, but will need safety help on the long ones. The Colts will throw him on the cornerback prospect pile and hope he will emerge as Tim Jennings’ backup and potential replacement at nickel back — although the past has shown they are not afraid to line a small man up outside. May participate on specials, but is not seen as a returner prospect.
Reminds me of: Jabari Greer
4/127 Austin Collie WR (6011/198/4.63c4.53pd) Brigham Young
What’s to like: Unbelievable production, especially in the red zone. Great hands, body control, routes etc. Sharp cuts. Will not be bumped off routes. Much quicker, niftier and athletic than many believe. Can sell fakes. Great character and intelligence.
Second guesses: Not all that fast. Does not explode of the line. Could improve strength in hands and arms. Not an accomplished blocker or a fearless over-the-middle guy. Will be a 24-year-old rookie.
How he fits: Is this the slot guy from Day 1? Could be. Collie is as polished as any receiver in the draft and will need little development. Will compete with veterans Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall and Jacob Tamme for playing time. Is unlikely to be a big factor on special teams.
Reminds me of: Jason Avant
4/136 Terrance Taylor DT (6001/306/5.39c5.24pd) Michigan
What’s to like: Three-year starter at NT for a big-time program. Was considered a first-round prospect at one time. Can be very hard to block one-on-one. Will explode on the snap when he’s fresh. Stays low and uses his arms well. Can slip through holes into enemy backfields. Will pursue. Textbook tackler. Very respected by teammates.
Second guesses: Short with short arms. Poor conditioning and stamina. Rudimentary pass-rush moves. Can be double-teamed out of the play. Previous Michigan NTs — like Alan Branch and Gabe Watson — have been huge disappointments as pros.
How he fits: Taylor has the ability to be an excellent two-down NFL NT, but has to show he wants it. At his best, he’s a Kelly Gregg-style wrestler inside (but without the pass-rush moves), but unless he gets serious about conditioning he’ll never be more than a backup … or an early cut.
Reminds me of: Hollis Thomas
6/201 Curtis Painter QB (6027/225/4.87pd) Purdue
What’s to like: Good size with a huge arm. Very durable four-year starter at program that has produced NFL starters at his position. Statistically very productive, especially as a junior. Can be very accurate when comfortable.
Second guesses: Has a big problem sensing and escaping pass-rush. Can be stunningly inaccurate when pressured. Make high schooler mistakes on reads, despite experience. Locks on to favorite receivers. Not an athlete with little threat to roll out or run. Stats were inflated by Purdue’s offense. Suffered through tough senior season.
How he fits: Unless Frank Reich can perform a Vulcan mind-meld, there’s little chance Painter will emerge as an NFL starter. Instead, look for him to replace veteran backup Jim Sorgi.
Reminds me of: Andrew Walter
7/222 Pat McAfee P (5114/228/4.90e) West Virginia
What’s to like: Four years as kicker, two as punter at big-time program. Big leg. Consistently gets 4.5-second hang times. Pretty good with directional punts. Nice hands and can handle wayward snaps. Is not a bad placement kicker. Decent athlete who’s a much better defender than most at his position.
Second guesses: Slow release. Not a booming kickoff man. Doesn’t appear to have ice water mentality of top placement kickers. Good kid. Well-liked and respected.
How he fits: The favorite to replace Hunter Smith as the Colts’ punter, McAfee is an eerily similar player. He’ll also get a chance to be the team’s kickoff specialist and, if all the cards fall in the right places, could eventually become the team’s punter AND kicker, saving a roster spot.
Reminds me of: Hunter Smith
7/236 Jaimie Thomas T (6040/323/5.29c) Maryland
What’s to like: Three-year starter (at left guard) at big-time program. Big, solid young man. Very aggressive and makes the most of his strength. Extremely long arms for his height. Uses hands well. Has some footwork. Understand pass-pro, and sets up very quickly. Good motor. Very intelligent, well-respected guy.
Second guesses: Not the greatest athlete around, and not super strong. Needs coaching on how to handle blitzes and block downfield. Not as solid in running game as he is in passing. Lacks mean streak and may not be totally dedicated to game (à la Tony Ugoh).
How he fits: Although he played guard at Maryland, the Colts are likely to put him at right tackle to take advantage of his huge arms and quick pass-pro moves. If he hits the weight room, improves his run-blocking and shows that he’s more interested in the NFL than in his post-footbal career, he could eventually start.
Reminds me of: Shane Olivea