With their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Trent Richardson from Cleveland, and that’s already been dissected in every imaginable way. I like Richardson, and I believe he’ll put it together. And, to be honest, it was kind of liberating to watch the draft without worrying about who the Colts were going to take.
But for people who enjoy playing “would have, could have, should have,” let’s imagine there’s a parallel universe in which the Colts still held the No. 26 pick. Conventional wisdom indicates that they want to take a safety, and there were some enticing options available when they would have been picking. The only safeties that were off the board before No. 26 were Calvin Pryor, who went to the New York Jets at No. 18, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who went to the Green Bay Packers at No. 21. (By the way, I really hope that every time Clinton-Dix lays a hit on a guy, the entirety of Lambeau points and does the Nelson “Ha Ha” thing from “The Simpsons.”)
Colts fans’ “dream safety” might have been Northern Illinois‘ Jimmie Ward, who went to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 30. That’s probably the one that fans will watch out of the corner of their eyes and wonder “what if,” unless Richardson sets the world on fire this fall. Ward may have some injury red flags as well, so fans in that alternate universe might have the occasional Bob Sanders flashback. His injury concerns had him projected to go in the second or third round, so the Colts might have hoped to get him anyway, doubly making him the one who got away.
Another name that fans might keep an eye on is safety Deone Bucannon, who was drafted at No. 27 by the Arizona Cardinals. According to his draft profile, he’s bigger and faster than the two safeties drafted ahead of him, but he sometimes struggles with mental mistakes. He was also projected to go in the second or third round, but he might not have been a great fit for the Colts anyway.
Any one of these names could be brought up in a conversation about whether or not the infamous Trent Richardson trade was worth it. But truthfully, the Colts seem to be legitimately good at finding talent and value in the later rounds. It’s fun to imagine these different scenarios, but I’m happy to watch things play out on their current course.