Sorry I haven't been around much. Didn't even get a mock out this year. So this will be long.
As for the draft, I'm giving it a B. I don't hate it, but I don't think it looks like his best draft either. Of course we will see. I LOVE the first two picks of Paye and O. Think his achilles is coming along from what I've heard and he may be available by mid-season. Hopefully, he's a fast healer a la Blackmon. But it looks like he can play inside or outside, and versatility is a good thing.
Edge was, IMHO, our top need (although I realize many will say OT, but with what else we have on the OL and the way we were able to play without Castonzo in the playoff game, I'm not convinced). It was no more evident than the playoff game where we let Josh Allen have his way back there and it cost us. I'm still hoping we come to terms with Houston because he is at least a solid vet. But I LOVE the two prospects we got here.
Paye was arguably the best edge rusher in this draft, which I believe is an overall weak edge draft compared to recent years, but he was arguably the best there was. Now if you want to say Ballard should have obtained one in FA rather than spending a pick on a weak draft, I'll listen. But as far as the draft, this was the best they could've gotten at 21. I don't know if he's a 3-down player right away, but he's at the very least a pass rush specialist at the start. Grade: A
O. was highly coveted and could have come out last year. According to our head of personnel, he would have been a 1st rounder had he done so. Then the injury hit and he slid down many teams' boards in a world where instant impact is nearly paramount to save your job. I highly doubt Ballard selects him if he wouldn't have already gotten Paye. It would have been too much of a gamble. But by getting Paye already Ballard was able to pull it off, and it just may pay large dividends down the road. The scout also said the Rams were ready to pounce on him 3 picks later. Two impressive prospects to improve one of the top two needs in the draft. Grade: B+
I believe the 4th is where the Colts wanted to select on the of the OT's but as you know there were 2 or 3 good ones that went just before they picked, so IMHO they didn't feel anybody left was worth the selection there. So they go Granson at TE, who was highly productive (and a good story). I guess he's not much of a blocker, but that has never bothered Reich in his system as that isn't what they ask TE's to do. He had a really bad game with drops, but otherwise that whole narrative was highly overblown. He's a good player and should help the Colts TE room immediately. Grade A-
Next, we got Davis at safety. I thought for sure the Colts would be looking at CB rather than safety, but nonetheless Davis was productive and has range. He's also not shy about making contact. Tackling needs to improve however. Sounds to me like a more physical Hooker. Not a position of need in terms of a starter, but depth is always good. Grade: B
The next round is sort of the head-scratcher for most, and I'm no different. Yes, you generally need at least 3 QB's heading into the season, but with the addition of Wentz and already having Eason on the roster, this pick seemed more luxury than need at this spot. The only reason I could possibly see for this pick here is that perhaps the front office doesn't see a future for Eason here? Maybe he is Eason's replacement? IDK. Nobody has seen him take a pro snap yet due to the pandemic, so it's tough to evaluate him. But in any case you certainly would have liked to see the best OT or CB available taken here instead, and left your 3rd QB spot to a UFA to fill (Jamie Newman anybody?). But he is certainly athletic and can do more than just throw a football. The only reason I won't give it an F is because we have no idea what his plans are for him. Taysom Hill maybe? Grade: D
I love Strachan's size and speed and his hands and wingspan are HUGE. My only question is if he's "all that" why wasn't he higher up on everyone's board? Is it because he played at Div. II? Is it something else like injury history? Is it a combo of all that? In either case, he's undoubtedly an intriguing prospect and the last 2 rounds are where you take your gambles and nobody can fault you for it. This is no doubt a gamble, but it sure looks like an intriguing one. If it works out, Ballard is a genius. If not, nobody remembers it. My bet is on Ballard here. Grade: A-
Fries is an enigma to me. When you watch tape he acquitted himself quite well against top-level competition in the Big Ten like our own Paye and last year's DROY Young. And he has played all but center so he is versatile. So then why was he not a top half of the draft prospect? I think some of drafting is "future prospect" and I get the feeling that many think he's already near the top of his ceiling, which is solid but not elite. He's not going to get your QB killed but he's not going to keep him clean either and that's probably not going to get much better at the next level. I don't think the Colts are expecting him to win the starting job, but depth is never a bad thing and, again, he's versatile so.....This has the feel of a "break glass in case of injury at guard or tackle" pick to me. Grade: B-
So again, solid B to me. I think we've got 2 - 3 potential starters here. The only pick I don't love is Ehlinger and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Nothing against the player, just in terms of need and draft position. I'm on board with everything else, even though I think they could have taken a CB somewhere. They are putting an AWFUL lot of confidence in Ya Sin again. As always, we shall see, but Ballard has proven often that he's pretty good at this.