With the NFL Draft now less than 10 days away, it’s time to address other positions of need for the Colts. While we had previously covered the position of safety as a draft day need, it is far from the only glaring hole on the Colts’ depth chart. Consequently, we will now look at the center position for the Colts. As it stands, the Colts have second-year pro, Khaled Holmes, on their roster and seemingly not much else as far as starting caliber center material. Their lone free agent center addition, Phil Costa, just abruptly retired days ago. It was a surprising blow to the Colts, as he was fully expected to compete with Holmes for the starting job.
Holmes is largely inexperienced, having played just 12 snaps last season and appearing in only 3 games. It may not make the most sense to pair the “green” Holmes with an even “greener” rookie center as competition. Not unless the health insurance policy of prized QB Andrew Luck has anything to say about it at least. Still, it appears the Colts will have to add talent to their center competition whether thats through the draft, free agent rookie pool, or the remaining (dwindling) free agent options. Otherwise, handing over the starting job to Holmes uncontested would not only be imprudent, but it leans on being borderline reckless and irresponsible.
For the purposes of this article, we have detailed the top rated center prospects that may be available from Round 2-3 below. As you may recall, the Colts surrendered their first round pick to the Cleveland Browns in the Trent Richardson trade. Nevertheless, there appears to still be a handful of talented center options that the Colts may look to compete with Holmes and help shore up the interior of their offensive line. Please see some of these intriguing prospects detailed below:
Marcus Martin, USC: 6’2″, 320 lbs, 5.22, Jr…”Outstanding-sized, barrel-chested finesse pivot with center-guard versatility. Grades out highly as a position-sustain blocker and possesses untappped strength and power in his body. Lacks desirable grit, toughness and finishing strength to maximize his talent and is stronger than he plays. Has instant-starter potential as a center or right guard, but could stand to benefit from some time to be groomed.” –Nolan Nowrocki of NFL.com
“Martin, who might be able to jump in as a rookie starter at either guard spot, in addition to his normal center position. At 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, he has the sturdiest build of the top three centers here. Turning that make-up into consistent pop on the line is another story. Martin can be overwhelmed at times, particularly when he’s faced with blitzers or multi-move pass rushers.”-Chris Burke, SI.com
“Martin, who doesn’t turn 21 years old until November, has the versatility to play either center or guard, having started 20 games at left guard and 13 at center the past three seasons at USC. He has room to tighten his discipline and technique, but anchors well with the size and foot quickness to make an impact run blocking and protecting the pocket.” – Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
“I have a late second, early third grade on him. Good player, he still has to improve with his balance and some of the things he does with his hands. But when he gets locked on and is in balance; he’s big and strong for a center, but moves well. I think he has a chance to be a good starter.”-Todd McShay, ESPN
Weston Richburg, Colorado State: 6’3″, 298 lbs, 5.10, rSR…”2014 Senior Bowl, Helped Themselves: Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State – Arkansas’ Travis Swanson entered the week as the nation’s top center prospect but an impressive showing by another CSU Ram has his stock rising quickly. Richburg showed the anchor to handle powerful bull-rushers, as well as impressive agility in getting to the second level.” –Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
“Richburg is very well rounded as a good run-blocker and pass-protector. When hitting double-teams with a guard, Richburg is very tough and is able to open up holes at the point of attack with bump blocks. He also has scheme flexibility with the athleticism to play in a zone scheme and the strength to play in a man scheme. For the NFL, Richburg looks like a player who would be ready to compete quickly. He could start out his career at guard if need be, but he looks like a long-term starter at center. Richburg could go in the second round and shouldn’t fall lower than midway through the third round.”-WalterFootball.com
“If a team is looking for the next Alex Mack, Richburg is that guy. He’ll be your starting center for the next 10 years.” –Gil Brandt, NFL.com
“If he goes late second, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. I think he’s a good enough player. The game that really got me with him, when I studied the tape, was Alabama. I thought he was outstanding in that game, handling all the different looks they showed at him up front. Very good football IQ. Not a road-grader but a very good zone blocker who moves well laterally who does the little things you need to do in terms of the line calls and making sure he has his head on a swivel, picking up stunts and all those things.”-Todd McShay, ESPN
Travis Swanson, Arkansas: 6’5″, 312 lbs, 5.28, Sr…”Lacks ideal speed, but Swanson has the athleticism to pull in running game and seal off defenders when blocking straight ahead. Solid making line calls. Started all 50 games of his Razorback career, tied for the second-longest active streak in the country at the end of 2013.”-Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
“Experienced and durable, started 50 games in the nation’s toughest conference. Good intangibles — two-time captain. Has the feet to be a good zone blocker and is very aware. Plays through the whistle and is feisty. Big hands will help in pass blocking but he desperately needs to add strength and can be overwhelmed against stronger tackles. Is on the ground too much. Can be really good if he bulks up.”-Terez A. Paylor, The Kansas City Star
“When scouts discuss a quarterback’s readiness for the NFL, the ability to read defenses and make adjustments pre-snap are critical selling points. The same goes for centers, who often are responsible for similar tasks up front. This may be the area of the game in which Swanson most excels.”-Chris Burke, SI.com