It's no big secret that the Indianapolis Colts will be targeting offensive linemen in this year's NFL Draft. Several performances at this year's NFL Scouting Combine may cause the Colts to have to alter their first round plans just a bit.
The big news of coming out of the combine was Terron Armstead's record 40 time. The tackle from Arkansas-Pine Bluff blistered the track in 4.65 seconds, besting some receivers and tight ends in the drill. The overall importance of a lineman's speed in running 40 yards is open for debate, but it will probably allow Armstead to move from the shadows of the draft into a solid first-day slot, maybe in the top three rounds.
Other linemen distinguished themselves, including several who the Colts were looking at with their pick at number 24. These players may have performed well enough to ensure they won't be there when the Colts pick.
Jonathan Cooper-G (North Carolina) We knew Cooper was an athletic guard, but his combine drills may have elevated him into the top half of the draft. He and Alabama G Chance Warmack will almost certainly be gone before the Colts pick at 24.
DJ Fluker-T (Alabama) Fluker parlayed his Senior Bowl workouts into being mocked in the first round and now probably won't fall past the Bears at 20. If Fluker is there, he's the ideal replacement (eventually, if not sooner) for Winston Justice at RT.
That leaves the Colts in the unenviable position of either having to draft away from the O-line to get a "value" pick, or reaching for a player at guard or tackle in the first round since they won't have a second round pick. Of course the Colts could try to trade their first round pick for two second rounders if that's available.
Armstead would be a great 3rd round project at tackle, but it's doubtful he'll be there in the third round. Oregon's Kyle Long had a good Combine and his versatility fits the Colts' philosophy. Is he really worth a first round pick though?
The Colts could address other positions of need like LB, DL or DB with the pick. The question is still about getting value there.
Of the linebackers, Manti Te'O didn't help himself with a horrid 40 time, Alec Ogletree picked up a DUI charge just before the combine started and his Georgia teammate, Jarvis Jones, has some questions about spinal stenosis that might take him from a mid to high first rounder to being off the board completely for some teams.
Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins was the target among NT prospects, but his Combine was lackluster with a disappointing 40 and bench press as well as a generally out of shape appearance. Georgia's John Jenkins could be exactly what the Colts are looking for. As we've said before though, the Colts won't use their first pick on a NT unless they don't think Josh Chapman can play.
Mississippi State's Johnathan Banks had a great combine and measured well, which will probably move him up out of the Colts' reach.