Indianapolis Colts' draft needs: Brandon Thomas a value pick

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

The Indianapolis Colts are in prime position this season to make their third consecutive playoff appearance -- as long as quarterback Andrew Luck stays healthy.

To keep their franchise signal-caller on his feet, I think the Colts need to upgrade their offensive line. They'll have to wait until at least the second round to do so, though, after trading this year's first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Trent Richardson -- a former No. 3 pick who, by the way, should be more successful in 2014 after having had a full offseason with the team.

The Colts added some contributors during free agency -- including Hakeem Nicks, D'Qwell Jackson and Arthur Jones -- but they still need help throughout their secondary.

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Here are four positions of need for Indianapolis -- and some prospects who could fill them.

1) Safety

With Antoine Bethea's departure in free agency, the Colts are in need of a safety to pair with Pro Bowler LaRon Landry. I think Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward will be off the board when the Colts first select at No. 59 overall, but Washington State's Deone Bucannon could be available. The 6-foot-1 defender has excellent ball skills and toughness; he also posted the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.49 seconds) among safeties at the NFL Scouting Combine.

2) Offensive guard

Protecting Luck is a huge priority for the Colts, as they will only go as far as he can take them. I like the idea of Indy selecting Brandon Thomas in the third or fourth round and allowing him to "redshirt" his first season as a pro.

Before the former Clemson offensive lineman tore his ACL in April, he was viewed as a possible second-round pick. He has good size (6-3, 317 pounds) and strength (35 reps on the bench press) -- and, once healthy, he'll have the potential to be a long-term starter for the Colts.

3) Defensive line

Indy has serviceable starters along the defensive line, but the team lacks a big-time impact player up front. If Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman fell to the second round, I'd consider trading up from the 59th overall pick to grab him. At 6-6 and 310 pounds, Hageman has the size and athleticism to be a forceful interior pass rusher.

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The Colts might also consider DaQuan Jones from Penn State, who could be available in the third round. A former team captain for the Nittany Lions, Jones is a very stout run-stopper -- something the Colts sorely need after finishing 26th in rushing defense last season.

4) Cornerback

The Colts' secondary was very inconsistent last season, so I see the team drafting a corner to add some competition at the position. Because of the deep talent in this year's class, the Colts should be able to land a quality player in the middle rounds.

One Day 3 guy I like is Florida's Jaylen Watkins. The former Gator has the tools to cover both slot and perimeter pass catchers and the versatility to fill in at safety if needed.


So what will the Colts do with their second-round pick (No. 59 overall)? In his four-round mock draft, Bucky Brooks predicts that Indy will snag Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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