Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson went searching for a lot of needs during the offseason, open checkbook in hand.
One high priority was adding depth to the offensive line so quarterback Andrew Luck might take fewer hits and sacks. Free agent moves included signing tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo and center Samson Satele are back, along with four others who started at least some games: Mike McGlynn, Joe Reitz, Jeff Linkenbach and A.Q. Shipley.
With the No.24 pick in the first round of a draft that is high quality in the trenches, as Grigson said last week, it's possible the Colts might pluck another offensive lineman.
After all, it's probably impossible to have too much protection for Luck.
Here are five possible linemen who could be around at No.24 on Thursday:
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, 6-6, 310
What a story. Johnson played quarterback and free safety in junior college, then tight end and defensive end at Oklahoma before switching to the offensive line. Many project him to go in the Top 15, but others say his impressive NFL Combine numbers reveal his athleticism but that his build is more like a basketball player than a football player. Chances are he goes long before the Colts pick. But there's always one player who doesn't go as high as projected.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama, 6-4, 334
Fluker was a three-year starter at right tackle on the preeminent college football team in the country. As such, he knows what it takes to run block and pass protect. He has a vocal, emotional leadership style and could be switched to guard with relative ease. His quickness has been criticized by some scouts and there have been those who have questioned his consistency and study habits. Sounds a lot like nitpicking on the big man. He'd be a tempting pick if available.
Justin Pugh, Syracuse, 6-4, 304
He started three years at left tackle but many project him to move to guard or even center in the NFL. He has short arms for a tackle, say those who measure such things. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more intelligent lineman, graduating with a finance degree in less than four years. He played in a pro-type offense so it should be an easy transition. His versatility could make him a tempting pick for the Colts if he's available.
Menelik Watson, Florida State, 6-5, 314
Watson probably has too many red flags for the first round. He's from Manchester, England. He played basketball and soccer and boxed as a youngster. He played one year of junior-college football and a year at Florida State and turned pro. He's 25, but has the experience of a 19-year-old. However, he's a big man. He might be as athletic as any lineman in the draft. But, he's a project to a degree, and projects don't go in the first round. Maybe if the Colts trade down.
Brennan Williams, North Carolina, 6-5 314
Here's another three-year starter at right tackle. He suffered a shoulder injury but recovered. He's considered a first-round reach by some because of an eccentric personality. The number of question marks around Williams might be too many for the Colts to use a first-round pick on him. If they trade down to the second round, perhaps he'd make more sense.