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Indianapolis Colts May Scouting Report
Chris Rito

Here are my thoughts on the Colts’ 2023 draft , with many of these guys participating in the rookie minicamp this weekend here in Indianapolis:


DAY ONE: Obviously much has been written and publicized already about the Colts landing QB Anthony Richardson with the 4th overall selection. As I had written last month, this was the guy I had wanted because the ceiling is so high for him and the physical attributes were so far off the charts. While I don’t believe that he will be eased into the starting role, I do feel comfortable that any concerns about his readiness will be covered by having a veteran startable QB Gardner Minshew in the fold and the potential to give him a reduced package to take advantage of his legs (as was the case for the start of Lamar Jackson’s rookie season). The team also unsurprisingly released veteran QB Nick Foles this week, as it made no sense to keep him as a 3rd passer when that slot should go to a developmental guy with some agility like QB Sam Ehlinger if they even keep a 3rd guy. I am excited to see what an offense might look like with RPOs designed to make a defense decide between covering Richardson and RB Jonathan Taylor. Even with a rough start to his rookie season in an NFL sense, Richardson could very well be a start-worthy fantasy quarterback right out of the gate due to his rushing numbers.


DAY TWO: Again, I am very comfortable with these picks since they addressed the two of the three secondary needs that I said the Colts needed to leave day 2 with. The first guy they took was Indianapolis native CB Julius Brents, or "JuJu" as he is known. While I liked some of the guys with more of a playmaking college resume, Brents fits the bill as a strong physical specimen that can step in as a potential starter on day 1. The only real concern I have with Brents is his injury history, including some offseason wrist surgery which could keep him off the field until the start of training camp. This was a big need in round two, and getting a top rated guy after moving down twice is a nice pickup by the team. In round three, they needed to get some O-line help or a fast receiver, and they got the speed demon in tiny but uber-productive WR Josh Downs from North Carolina. He posted 200 catches, 2500 yards and over 20 TDs in the last two seasons and was a first or second team All American by every rating service. The only reason he was available this low is his size, and he definitely seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and a real enthusiasm to be great in Indy. He reminds me a lot of a young T.Y. Hilton -- and that guy had a great career in Indy. For a team that had a lot of size at receiver but not much burst, this was a great pickup. I know they signed slot WR Isaiah McKenzie from the Bills this offseason, but Downs has a chance to be far more explosive and dynamic from that position and should challenge for meaningful snaps immediately, perhaps being a decent last-round best-ball type of flier for the occasional big play.


DAY THREE: Day 3 started with some of the best value picks for the Colts with a pair of fourth rounder with much higher draft grades. OT Blake Freeland from BYU was a guy that I had projected they take in round 3 and he provides at worst swing tackle coverage as a rookie as he has played both sides in his four years of starting in college. He also posted better athleticism numbers than any other O-lineman at the combine and some of the best all-time, staying with the theme of extraordinary athletes in this year’s draft. Later in the round, they took Northwestern DT AdetomiwaAdebawore -- a dominant athlete for an interior lineman, and a guy that was expected to go in the 2nd round as a top 50 player on most boards. In addition to getting an immediate rotational player on the interior of the D-line, he may be a solid transition when the two veterans at defensive tackle eventually move on.

After moving down twice in the second round and from some prior trades, the Colts then had seven selections in the last three rounds, including four guys in round 5. They mostly doubled down on some of the positions of need by selecting two more big and athletic corners in South Carolina CB Darius Rush in round 5 and Texas A&M CB Jaylon Jones in round 7. Both are big guys with some speed, but Rush is a far more polished player with better ball skills while Jones is a work in progress technically. They also added a safety prospect with S Daniel Scott who was a special teams ace while being a starter at Cal and likely will be a depth player with some special teams value here with a crowded and young safety corps. The only other defender was small-school edge rusher LB Titus Leo who is a great pursuer who likely will provide depth at linebacker and some more kick coverage potential as a rookie.

They did actually draft some guys for the offensive side of the ball as well, including TE Will Mallory of Miami. For a school that has produced a ton of super NFL tight ends, Mallory was actually more productive than all of them and posted ludicrous tight end speed and quickness (staying with this year’s draft theme). His speed could push some of the other slower and lesser-producing tight ends off the roster, including veteran TE Mo Alie-Cox. However, he is not much of a blocker which is what the Colts really need at the position, so I suspect he will be a practice squad guy as well for his rookie season. RB Evan Hull of Northwestern adds a receiving threat (he led the FBS in running back receptions last season) with some every-down potential as a backup. If he can offer anything on special teams will likely push RB Deon Jackson off the active roster as a backup to Taylor; if not, Jackson’s special teams value will make Hull a game day inactive or practice squad player. And finally the draft was completed with a longshot in Northern Michigan’s OT Jake Witt. Witt is a former basketball player with great athleticism but very few snaps as a collegiate lineman, so he is a long-term developmental project.


UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: The Colts every year seem to unearth a gem or two in the undrafted class, and have for years had the longest streak of an UDFA making the final roster. There are a few guys worth noting in this class based on their college resumes as well as the team’s specific needs. The first guy that comes to mind is Alabama OG Emil Ekiyor Jr., the son of a former Colt undrafted free agent himself. Ekiyor was slated to be a mid-round pick after three years as a starter on a program well-known for producing high-end NFL talent, but inexplicably slipped and was one of the highest-graded undrafted players available. He was a first team all-SEC and led the team in pancake blocks, and is a true force in the run game. He is also an Indianapolis native, so he got over his draft day disappointment by signing with his hometown team – and a team that does have a need at his position and that therefore will offer him a huge opportunity to contribute. On the other end of the size spectrum is LB Donavan Mutin, a team leader and captain at Houston that led his top-25 ranked team in tackles each of the last two seasons. Mutin slipped because he is a bit undersized and had a poor combine performance on the stopwatch, but he has a tremendous motor and football IQand could definitely be an immediate contributor on special teams while providing depth and energy to the defense.


All in all, a solid draft by the team that will ultimately (fairly or not) be graded by how well and how quickly Richardson can develop into their franchise quarterback. With their first five picks, they likely drafted five immediate and regular contributors on game day with at least three of them being starters as rookies. And perhaps most of all, some needed depth was addressed and a ton of improved size and speed was added which will likely mostly show up on special teams as the season progresses.. Hope springs eternal in the Circle City…but I do know that the draft aways gives renewed hope to 32 fan bases, and the most downtrodden of those fanbases usually have nowhere to go but upward.That is all for this month from the Crossroads of America….we will see what the rest of the summer and fall bring us!



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