Mock drafts predict Colts’ round-1 selection

A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the Indianapolis Colts during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The end is near.

When it comes to the glut of mock drafts, the end is here.

The NFL Draft finally arrives Thursday, ending the intrigue that has captivated discussion for the last several months and answering questions for 32 teams.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, the draft is a seven-round, 254-selection that runs through Saturday. The Indianapolis Colts possess nine picks, including the 26th overall, three of the top 59 and four in the first three rounds.

So many have offered guesstimates on how the draft will unfold, updating whenever the mood strikes.

Colts GM Chris Ballard does this for a living. He and his scouting staff have logged more than 1,700 hours since filing into the draft room in mid-September. They’ve checked, double-checked and triple-checked each of the individuals they deem draft-worthy. Their final board probably will hold no more than 180 players, and they’ve targeted a cluster of roughly eight who have a good chance of being available when the Colts are on the clock in the first round.

But for all of the work that’s been put in, uncertainty reigns.

“There’s still unpredictability,’’ Ballard said, “and I still think there’s unpredictability in this one in the entire first round.

“I felt last year we had a pretty good feel of where the top 10 to 15 picks were gonna go. This year? Who knows? I think it’s just a matter of flavor and how people see them.’’

This is how various mock drafts see the Colts investing their first-round pick:

JOE HOPKINS, CBS4/FOX59 Indianapolis

  • Selection: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  • Comment: Though passing on safety Johnathan Abram will be difficult, GM Chris Ballard’s continued emphasis on improving the defensive line gives Wilkins an edge. Wilkins is versatile but at his best playing the three-technique, where he can use his quickness and hands to penetrate gaps. His character and leadership are raved about, making him a perfect fit for Indy’s strong locker room.

MEL KIPER, JR., ESPN

  • Selection: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
  • Comment: This could have been a safety, too. But then I started thinking about Metcalf catching bombs from Andrew Luck in Indy.

DANIEL JEREMIAH, NFL.com

  • Selection: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
  • Comment: Selfishly, I would just to see him play opposite Malik Hooker in Indy. Abram could play in the box and allow Hooker to make plays over the top.

PETER KING, NBCSports.com

  • Selection: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
  • Comment: He’s 6-2 and runs a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash. What’s not to like? Tackling, perhaps. But the Colts need two things badly: an edge-rusher and a shutdown cornerback. Williams is better at corner than the remaining edge guys are at sacking the quarterback. However, keep one thing in mind with Colts GM Chris Ballard: He’s not going to change his board to fit his needs. If there’s a significantly higher-rated player here, Ballard will take him.

STEPHEN HOLDER, The Athletic

  • Selection: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
  • Comment: The Colts have an adequate stable of cornerbacks, especially after re-signing veteran Pierre Desir. But what they don’t have is depth. And that’s hurt them at times during the past two seasons. Adding Baker solidifies this group for years to come.

CHAD REUTER, NFL.com

  • Selection: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
  • Comment: GM Chris Ballard is always looking to upgrade his defensive line. Wilkins is a great value at this point of the round.

STEVE PALAZZOLO, PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS

  • Selection: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  • Comment: Indianapolis needs an influx of talent up front, and Wilkins brings a strong run-stopper with improving pass-rush ability. He has played all over the defensive front at Clemson, playing with the leverage to make a three-down impact at the next level, especially if he can build upon his 91.0 pass-rush grade from 2018.

JENNY VRENTAS, MMQB/SportsIllustrated.com

  • Selection: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
  • Comment: Some teams would absolutely not draft Simmons in the first round, because of the video of him repeatedly punching a woman in 2016, when he was in high school. (Mississippi State described the incident as an effort to break up a domestic fight between his sister and the other woman; Simmons has said he regrets his actions). He is also recovering from a torn ACL suffered during training in February, and may not be available for this season. One team decision-maker said he does not think Simmons will go in the first round, but two other evaluators said they believed he’d be taken in the 20s, on account of his top-10 talent.

RYAN WILSON, CBSSPORTS.com

  • Selection: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
  • Comment: Matt Eberflus transformed the Colts into a good defense in 2018. To go from good to great, Indy needs to add a few more pieces. Jerry Tillery has an explosive first step and his raw strength coupled with effective hand usage makes it incredibly difficult for offensive linemen to sustain blocks. . . . If he can play with more consistency, Tillery could be one of the biggest surprises of this class.

MICHAEL MIDDLEHURST-SCHWARTZ, USA Today

  • Selection: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
  • Comment: Somewhat reminiscent of Jets Pro Bowler Jamal Adams, the search-and-destroy safety demonstrates the kind of active approach and leadership skills that could make him a favorite of Chris Ballard and Frank Reich.

WALTERFOOTBALL.com

  • Selection: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
  • Comment: The Colts dropped 19 passes in three games T.Y. Hilton missed in 2018. They need to make sure their offense can function if Hilton suffers an injury this upcoming season. They signed Devin Funchess to help the receiving corps, but Funchess has never accomplished anything in the NFL, and he won’t preclude Indianapolis from adding a talented wideout.

CHARLES DAVIS, NFL.com

  • Selection: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
  • Comment: The defensive front gets the call here, and fits a need, too. Division rivals Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston all like to run the ball, and with big, powerful backs. Lawrence ups the power ratio to combat those attacks.
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