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Indianapolis Colts May Scouting Report
Chris Rito

Hey there Colts' fans! And a happy Mothers Day to all you moms out there, and the best to all of your moms as well. Here are my thoughts on the Colts 2022 draft and the resulting roster:


Day one of the draft was wholly inconsequential for the Colts as they were without a selection, having traded it away the year prior in the Carson Wentz deal. While there was a chance they could trade up into the round, it was pretty unlikely with the lack of draft capital available and the general reluctance of Chris Ballard to make such a move. In addition, the many positions of greatest need for the team were among those with greater depth in the draft -- so it made little sense to do anything but use as many of our own selections as possible to fill as many gaps as possible.


Without the benefit of hindsight, Day Two of the draft looked to be about as solid a day as one could have imagined even before a single selection was made. In the trade moving on from arson Wentz, they moved up 5 spots in round and picked up a 3rd rounder this year and next year as well - and only gave up Wentz and a 7th round selection. Then they traded their own 3rd round selection for QB Matt Ryan who has immediately won over the team and the local media and looks to be the leader that they had hoped they had in the younger Wentz. So in essence they have traded Wentz and a 7th rounder for Ryan and two 3rd rounders, which looks pretty darn good.


And then the selections and subsequent trades were some masterful strokes, as they filled their biggest needs on Day Two and got three likely starters and some crucial depth. Sitting there at the 42nd overall selection (10th pick in round 2) as a result of the Wentz trade, they moved down as their pick came on the clock. Nonetheless, they snagged their biggest need in WR Alec Pierce of Cincinnati, a big and fast receiver that had been linked to them in several mocks and sources. Pierce should fit right in as an athletic #2 across from WR Michael Pittman, with perhaps even more deep speed and size to create mismatches on lesser corners. He has a little to learn about the position yet, but his athleticism should have him slot in as a starter right away although his fantasy impact will be low with the likely low-volume passing game in Indy. I would have maybe targeted a speedier and shiftier receiver like Skyy Moore (who went immediately after him to the Chiefs), but maybe this indicates that they are going to re-sign WR TY Hilton for one more year to fill that role, or that they are giving WR Parris Campbell one more chance to stay healthy and be that explosive threat.


The 3rd round was already a success having snagged a starting QB Matt Ryan with the trade of their own pick, but they still had two other selections in this round due to the earlier trades with Washington and Minnesota. With the pick from Washington, they drafted massive TE Jelani Woods of Virginia who has off-the-charts measurables and crazy athleticism, giving him a very high ceiling. Having heard him interviewed this week as well, he is a mature guy who has overcome a lot (like doing a lot of the care for his older special-needs brother while he was in high school). The Colts needed some explosiveness at the position, and the oversized freak could give them that even if he starts deep on the depth chart. He is a more athletic and experienced TE Mo Alie-Cox who should be able to help him reach the ceiling that Alie-Cox has not done. He will probably see the field a lot on red zone packages and see a lot of snapsto keep defenses honest, but again is likely not a fantasy factor even while impacting the NFL game.


The next pick may have been the best of all, as they used the extra 3rd rounder from the Vikings and snagged OT Bernhard Raimann from Central Michigan - a player projected by most to be a late first rounder or an early second rounder. Raimann is already a proven commodity and will only get better as he continues to learn the position. With Matt Pryor capable of holding down the fort at left tackle this year (at least early), he will not be rushed into the role but it is intended that this is the starting blind side protector for the foreseeable future. I would not even rule out the possibility that his run blocking skill could get him a chance to start at right guard immediately as well. By getting a starting-caliber left tackle in the middle of round three, that made this day of the draft a rousing success; they came out of the draft by added three potential starting players at the three biggest need positions with their first three picks, despite not selecting until the middle of round 2. But then they added the icing to the cake by trading next years 3rd rounder and a 5th round compensatory pick to snag Maryland's uber-athletic S Nick Cross. While they have two entrenched starters at safety and a 10-year veteran that they just signed, two of them have expiring contracts this season and one is coming off an Achilles tear so depth is crucial here. The Colts also lost several of their best special teams contributors, and his speed and tackling should make him an instant key player on the kick coverage units in 2022. Overall, I give the second day of the draft a solid A for Chris Ballard and the Colts' personnel team.


Now as over-the-top good as was their second day of the draft... I really was puzzled by much of what they did on Day Three in rounds 4-7. Their 5th round selection was Missouri State DT Eric Johnson, a relative unknown. He is in many ways a clone of current Colts' stalwart DT Grover Stewart, but can we really be expected to catch lightning in a bottle again? He had a great Senior Bowl and rocketed up some draft boards, so they probably had to take him here, and he should be a solid role and rotational player for this team. Although they lost some interior line depth in the offseason, I might have liked to see them take one of the corners still on the board there, but this was the best pick they made on Saturday. The next two picks were real head-scratchers to me. After spending significant draft capital on tight ends in the last two drafts and re-signing Alie-Cox, they drafted another TE Andrew Ogletree who is a tight end projected by most as not having starter upside. He is raw and a bit older than most rookies, but he is a fine athlete... but unless they carry a luxurious four tight ends, this pick seemed like a wasted pick. Similarly, DT Curtis Brooks of Cincinnati graded out as the best in his class at his position on the field in 2021, but he was projected as an undrafted free agent due to his tweener size and maybe could have been had later or after the draft. He is going to have to develop quickly or to a high ceiling to make me like this pick. And finally in round 7 they took Yale DB Rodney Thomas, a speedy safety with Ivy League smarts but a limited skill set in coverage. This may again be a special teams addition as much as anything after drafting a 4th safety earlier in the weekend. Overall, the day three picks have some upside but a ton of development needed, and the last three players were from positions that were all redundant with players selected earlier. I will give this day of the draft a B-/C+ with potential to admit that it grade could rise as special teams play gets factored in.


The Colts were also active outside of the draft in the last few weeks, most notably signing veteran stud CB Stephon Gilmore to a two-year deal as reported here last month but a quiet signing of real value was backup WR Ashton Dulin who provides some credible bench depth at receiver but more importantly retains one of the top three special teams guys from last year (the other two have signed elsewhere). Dulin is a great gunner and will help some of these third day draft picks learn the nuances of the NFL coverage game. Even though it is a #5 receiver and a special teamer, this may have been one of the sneaky important free agent signings of the 2022 season for Indy. There is still some question as to the starting corners for this season, and there are not a lot of starting caliber corners yet available in free agency. Unless there is a trade somewhere or the team resigns CB TJ Carrie or CB Xavier Rhodes, someone unexpected is going to have to quickly develop or step up their play. There are a lot of guys with some serious mileage on them available, but no one that makes you jump up and say "yes" about at this stage in their careers - maybe oft-injured former Packer Kevin King. There are some big names still there at receiver, but I would wonder if they team would rather sign their own Hilton over a guy with more upside like OBJ or the also oft-injured Julio Jones.


That is all for this month from the Crossroads of America. The Colts have a mandatory minicamp coming up in a few weeks and this should clarify what the needs still are and where some of these rookies might slot into the expectations for the team and coaching staff. Until then friends...



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