INDIANAPOLIS – Legitimate pass-rusher or every down running back?
That’s the choice – and it’s a good one to have – that the Indianapolis Colts will face when they pick at No. 3 (assuming they keep the pick) in the April NFL draft.
The Colts could look to fix their pass-rush problems by going with North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb at No. 3, or give quarterback Andrew Luck the type of running back he has needed throughout his career in Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
The Colts can’t go wrong with either player because they both address positions of need. Bradley had 46.5 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. The Colts haven’t had a legitimate pass-rusher since Robert Mathis had 19.5 sacks in 2013. Linebacker Erik Walden had 11 sacks in 2016, but he wasn’t a player opposing quarterbacks felt they had to account for an every play.
Indianapolis finished 31st in the league in sacks last season with only 25. It doesn’t matter how promising the secondary looks for the Colts, they’ll have a tough time stopping teams if they don’t know how to put pressure on quarterback.
That brings us to Barkley.
Luck hasn’t had much support in the running game since he entered the league in 2012. Trent Richardson, who was taken at No. 3 in 2012, was a bust, and Luck and veteran Frank Gore combined to play just 22 out of a possible 48 games in their three seasons as teammates. Barkley rushed for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns in his three seasons at Penn State.
Jacksonville, Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams have had success selecting running backs Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley II, respectively, in the top 10 in recent years. All three have cracked 1,000 yards rushing in a season and all three of their teams have made the playoffs.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard proved in last year’s draft that he will take the best player available over need when they used the No. 15 pick on Ohio State safety Malik Hooker.
Barkley and Chubb both fill a need. But which one of the two will be considered best available in Ballard’s eye when the Colts are on the clock?
Take a look at who Mel Kiper believes the Colts should select at No. 3.