Indianapolis Colts May Scouting Report
Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are my early thoughts on the Colts’ 2019 draft. In total, I don’t think there is a lot here that will merit fantasy consideration, aside from the fact that the overall defense/special teams should be noticeably stronger and might be a decent sleeper pick.
When the Colts got on the clock at #26 overall, there were many players available at positions that the Colts needed. With another pick looming early in round 2, they apparently felt that they could still get a guy there they liked, and traded down 20 spots with the Redskins by taking Washington’s 2nd rounder in 2020. While I might have liked the player that Redskins took (Montez Sweat) or Tillery from Notre Dame, the acquisition of a 2nd rounder that probably should be no worse that 50th overall was a good deal and worth trading out of round 1.
With that 34th overall pick (acquired from the Jets last year), they took the most physical corner in the draft, Temples CB Rock Ya-Sin. Besides having a totally cool name, he is a bigger guy that brings great man-to-man cover skills and a physical presence that the team lacked at corner. Much was made on draft day about his history as a 2-time state champion wrestler; you gottalike that toughness, discipline and "gladiator mentality" in your secondary for a guy left out on an island at times. He has a reputation for high character and high competitiveness, so you are gonna love watching him play. His selection will allow defensive coordinator Mike Eberflus to mix in some man and press coverage after mostly playing zone last year. Ya-Sin should start right away at corner, I would bet. He was a good value and a great fit for this team.
The Colts traded back again from 46 to 49 with the Browns, and picked up a 5th rounder on day 3. With this pick, they took the very athletic Ben Banogu from TCU. While he primarily played as a rush lineman, Ballard and Reich indicated that they see him as a SAM linebacker. He is ridiculously fast and explosive in his motion; he was among the fastest 40 times for linemen at the combine, and set the alltime record for the broad jump as well. But he is a bit raw as TCU taught scheme rather than technique, and he will be learning a new position at the NFL level. He did impress by paying linebacker at the combine and Senior Bowl, so there is some intrigue here. In my opinion, Banogu has the chance to be a special teams demon right from the start while he learns the nuances of the position in the pros and serves as a situational pass rusher.
Finally standing pat later in round 2 at #59 overall, the Colts took a receiver like many had thought….but they did not go with the bigger name guys that had been mock-draft assigned to them. They instead took Ohio State speedster WR Parris Campbell. Campbell has blown up in games in Indianapolis several times in the Big Ten championship games and has ludicrous speed (4.31 at the combine). Coach Reich is salivating about the creative ways they can get the ball into his hands, as he did the bulk of his work on bubble screens and crossing routes – short safe routes which this offense loves. I have seen several people compare him to a blazing version of Percy Harvin, so think of the creative ways he might be used as a Colt. Initially, I see him as a possible return man and only a 3rd receiver at best for this team, but he might give Luck some big plays in ways he could not before. And yes, now the team has Parris AND Hilton at receiver. LOL One negative note: a possible negative impact could be seen for the fantasy value of RB Nyheim Hines as a result of Campbell being drafted, as they will share some of the same targets and routes.
In round 3, they took another ridiculously athletic and speedy linebacker, Stanford LB Bobby Okereke. He is a classic sideline-to-sideline backer with a high motor and an intense work ethic. Again, he is going to be an instant competitor on special teams and will aid in developing depth and speed in a weak linebacker unit. He potentially could unseat veteran Anthony Walker as the starting middle linebacker, and with his smarts and high-motor…I wouldn’t rule it out. With his speed though, he might be better suited on the outside. Fun fact: he interned for Condoleeza Rice while at Stanford.
The Colts then traded both of their 4throunders to move up 20 spots in round 4 after a few of their likely targets in round 4 went off the board. They took box SS Khalil Willis from MSU, who is a nice complement to Malik Hooker in the deep secondary. He doesn’t miss tackles, plays the run well and he is known for covering the tight end better than most (something the Colts struggled with last year). Another high character guy who fits a need, the nature of the trade indicates that they had a Day 2 draft grade on this kid. Solid depth for his rookie year, at least, and with the injury history among the safeties he might play sooner than later. Not a lot of flash here, but another good character guy and a solid performer for a top-level program in college football
With their two 5th round picks, the Colts first drafted another safety with the pick traded from Cleveland, lanky FS Marvell Tell from USC who projects more for depth than for starting, at least initially. He is a decent athlete with some size, but is considered more quick than fast and a little raw. And with their own pick late in the round they took oft-injured interior LB EJ Speed from Tarleton State. He has some tremendous speed and length, but you obviously have to question the quality of his D-II competition and the fact that he was not as truly dominant as you might like at the lower level. It should be noted that a few teams did bring him in pre-draft as one of their top-30 visits, so there was intrigue by other teams as well; he did lead the nation in forced fumbles as a sophomore in his first year on defense, and led his team in tackles as a senior. He is also still learning the position, as he was a high school quarterback that was converted to receiver as a freshman, and then later to the defensive side of the ball. He is a developmental project at best, and likely to end up on the practice squad, I think.
In the 6th round, at pick 199 they took DE Gerri Green of Ole Miss who is a classic stand-up speed rushing end that chases runners down well from the backside; he probably needs to bulk up to stay as an end, though. He plays fast and hard, typical of all the guys they have drafted this year especially. He also played at outside linebacker as a junior, so his versatility is a key here like several of the rest of the draft class and the existing roster. He is more of a system fit here, as he was rated as an undrafted free agent and should be a practice squad guy that replaces some of the older linemen in a year or two.And in round 7, they had two late picks. The first of which was used on OT Jackson Barton out of Utah who went much later than projected based on his accomplishments in the Pac-12. He needs some work on his technique, but has the tall frame to be a solid tackle. Finally they traded DL Hassan Ridgeway to the Eagles for their late 7th rounder, and used it to select OL Javon Patterson from Ole Miss. He has a lot of starting experience (mostly at guard) and can play all three interior line positions, and with Barton they picked up some big young guys that can compete to fill the offensive line rotation.
So there it is. A solid draft which will help the team overall, but probably not one with any fantasy relevance of note. This draft went about as I had predicted, aside from the fact that I thought they would grab that additional O-lineman well before they did so in round 7. Team speed and special teams will show the biggest uptick, and there are several chances for the team to add some pass rushing prowess among the guys they grabbed. They definitely went for speed and high-character guys, and many of their draft picks were team captains; notably, Gerri Green was a defensive captain despite three other teammates being first round draft picks!
Other moves: The big news with potential fantasy impact is the signing of veteran RB Spencer Ware to a one-year deal. The management knew him well from their time in Kansas City, and Ware has actually been a serviceable feature back when asked to do so. His presence is a real wildcard at this early time for the crowded Colt backfield, and my early guess is that he cuts into RB Marlon Mack’s fantasy value and eliminates RB Jordan Wilkins role in this offense. They also signed nine undrafted free agents and invited three dozen others to rookie minicamp, but none of them on paper really seem to stand out to me. They have a history of some great value signings and of someone from this set making the final roster though, so I am not dismissing them as impact players yet. I am most intrigued by OT Antonio Garcia who was a 3rd round pick that the Pats traded up to get in 2017, but didn’t pan out due to some medical issues (blood clots). If he plays like they expected him to do, he could be a nice find.
Rookie minicamp: The Colts’ rookies and undrafted free agents and invites gathered from May 3-5 to go through some orientation and drills. It was obvious to all observes that Parris Campbell is the real deal and was the best player on the field by far, showing off skills that many doubted he had and perhaps making an early claim as the draft’s biggest steal. Otherwise, there was little to report, and no serious injuries took place. Four of the tryout invitees did get signed as undrafted free agents, including a kicker and three defensive players; all are obviously longshots to even make the practice squad, but they did enough to impress the coaches and brass.
That is all for now. I will be back next month to assess the progress of the 2019 rookie class and the rest of the roster for the Colts. Until then, friends…..enjoy!
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