The Indianapolis Colts have suffered through yet another rough season and are heading for what appears to be a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It is a pick that general manager Chris Ballard must be successful with, as the Colts’ could use a lot of help at quite a few different positions.
Many view the offensive line and defense as the main needs for the Colts. There are a few other positions that could use some work as well. One of those positions could end up being running back.
Frank Gore is headed into free agency and it seems very unlikely that he will be interested in returning to the Colts. If that is the case, that would leave Indianapolis with Marlon Mack as their only starting-caliber running back. Mack has shown flashes of big potential this season, but has also had quite a few games where he was a non-factor.
Could the Colts consider taking Penn State star running back Saquon Barkley if he’s available when they are on the clock?
Throughout the 2017 season with the Nittany Lions so far, Barkley has carried the football 199 times for 1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is more than just a threat on the ground as well, catching 47 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers show why the Colts could be intrigued to make Barkley their long-term starting running back.
Andrew Luck is expected to fully recover from his shoulder injury this offseason. That would make the Colts’ a much more dangerous offensive unit by itself. Adding a threat like Barkley behind him in the backfield and a lot of pressure would be taken off of Luck’s shoulders, no pun intended.
Obviously, the Colts would be wise to consider targeting an offensive lineman like Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame if they decide improving the offensive line is their biggest need. Derwin James has been mentioned as a possible target for the Colts as well, although they have Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers at the safety positions. Indianapolis would likely move Geathers to outside linebacker if they did draft James.
That being said, Barkley may very well be the best player in the entire draft class. Workhorse running backs are becoming a thing in the NFL again and the Colts are a bit behind the curve.
Mack has the potential to become a big play threat, but there are major doubts about his ability to be an every-down running back.
Ballard has not been scared to make bold moves since coming to the Colts. He has cut veteran players who were big names and not producing, which has shocked an Indianapolis fan base that got used to Ryan Grigson’s nightmarish way of running the franchise. Drafting Barkley would be far from the most bold move that Colts’ fans have already seen.
Expect to see the Colts do plenty of research on quite a few different candidates at the top of the draft class. They cannot afford to miss with the pick, as they are still in the middle of a bit of a rebuild.
Barkley may not end up being their guy, but he would certainly make for a lethal pairing with a healthy Andrew Luck.