A little late, but I wanted to get this on the record before camp starts. These are my thoughts on the Colts draft. Just a disclaimer, any disagreement with any picks is just me expressing my opinion, not suggesting that the Colts are wrong or that I know any better than they do.
Trade: acquired 2/46 and a 2020 second rounder in exchange for 1/26, A-
Ballard and Co. telegraphed this for weeks, and explained it well. It’s easy to see that they had similar grades on a bunch of guys who they expected to fall anywhere between 20-40, and were willing to move back if they could get value. Getting a future second and still coming away with one of their desired guys is value. I can nitpick and say that they could have gotten another pick in the deal, but when you analyze this on any of the charts and adjust the future second, it comes out as a push, which is acceptable, especially since they already had #34 from the Jets.
2/3 -- Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple, A-
This is a solid pick anyway you slice it. Great prospect on paper, good athlete, nice size profile, fits the length requirements Ballard looks for (77” wingspan). But on film, he’s physical, quick, aggressive, high intensity, fiercely competitive, and shows up in run support. His technique needs refinement in man and zone, but he still effectively blankets receivers in all areas. The physical traits and abilities are there, and he looks quicker than his workout numbers suggest. What I really like is that this pick appears to signify a tangible shift in defensive philosophy toward a scheme that will employ more diverse coverage schemes. There were other players I liked more, but as the draft unfolded their plan mostly made up for it.
2/17 -- Ben Banogu, Edge, TCU, C
Definitely a H/W/S prospect, his length and burst show up on film, what also shows up is a complete lack of refinement, virtually no technique as a pass rusher, and he’s not great in space. He should be able to handle edge responsibilities on early downs, from a two- or three-point stance. At first Ballard said he might be a Sam prospect (think Jamie Collins), but more recently, the coaches have suggested that he’ll be an end to start with. Apparently his college coaches did nothing to help him develop as a rusher -- which isn’t surprising, TCU doesn’t even use playbooks, I believe they didn’t teach technique -- so he still has a lot of upside, and being exposed to guys like Houston and hopefully Mathis will be great for him. I feel like there were better players available at multiple positions, and probably greater value to be gained even if Banogu was highly coveted.
2/59 -- Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State, A
My favorite pick of the draft. I’ve been beating the drum for a YAC monster at receiver for a long time, and the Colts drafted one of the best YAC producers in this year’s draft. He’s quick and shifty, as a former RB he breaks weak tackles, a natural pass catcher (though he has some drops, they appear to be focus related, not a lack of ability), and he has elite deep speed. Not a lot of routes on tape, but his athletic profile, including his foot speed, balance and body positioning make for an understandable projection as a route running prospect. Major production in college, and he can return punts and kicks. On top of my excitement about the player, picking a receiver on Day 2 is a great value in this draft, and I like Campbell better than several receivers with higher profiles that went earlier than him.
3/26 -- Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford, B+
Another athlete with speed and length, but not technically refined. Rangy and with decent awareness in the passing game, not incredible in man coverage but seems to have the physical ability to handle himself in certain situations. He’s not a downhill run defender, will more likely evade blockers than take them on, yet he plays with a physicality and likes to hit ball carriers, using his closing speed to arrive with bad intentions. He’ll be a great special teamer, and he’s an obvious fit for the defense, assuming he takes to coaching. Good value at this spot in the draft, and he’ll add immediate competition in the LB room. (Side note: Hopefully the Colts got it right with the character evaluation, given the recent news that he was accused of sexual assault a few years ago at Stanford.)
4/7 -- Khari Willis, DB, Michigan State, C+
Good tackler, breaks down well in space, sometimes comes in too hot and overruns the play, could be better at shedding blocks, not afraid to show up in run support and lay a hit; decent awareness in the middle of the field, plays the ball instinctively and aggressively, has tenacity and active hands when the ball is arriving, only a moderately effective cover man but doesn’t back down; decent range but somewhat limited on the back end, much better closer to the line of scrimmage; team captain, from a big family, known as a hard worker, ultra competitive. It’s easy to see him as a rotational DB early on, but I don’t think he has a very high ceiling.
5/6 -- Marvell Tell, DB, USC, C+
Long, athletic, decent ability to play the ball in man coverage, good range and agility to close in different coverages, not a great tackler, lacks the awareness and refinement to stay in position as a single high safety, stuck between positions but an obvious prospect at corner, which is where the Colts are moving him. He looks like he’s at least a decent dime prospect, maybe has the potential to be a starter as he learns the position and refines his technique. This pick will look great in a couple years if the staff can maximize his potential at corner.
5/26 -- EJ Speed, LB, Tarleton State, INC
Who? It’s impossible to know whether another team would have taken him, requiring a fifth rounder on a small school unknown. But watching his highlight video, he lives up to his name -- he’s fast. He also has decent size and good length, so he’s another developmental guy with the traits the staff loves. I’m withholding a grade on this pick.
6/27 -- Gerri Green, Edge, Mississippi State, C-
An unimpressive athlete with the size profile of a tweener edge, but he plays with a tenacity that allows him to contribute, he has good strength and power, when he’s balanced he can defeat blockers with his upper body, good awareness including in space; they talked about him having some ability to play Sam but he looks like a sub DE, at best. They were most likely drawn to his intangibles, as he was a captain on a defense with several standout players, but everyone seemed to look up to Green. Not super thrilled about his prospects in the NFL, but he can definitely be a special teams maven right away.
7/26 -- Jackson Barton, T, Utah, B+
In late rounds, I think a great strategy is to go after players with desirable physical traits who might need technical refinement. Barton has prototypical LT size and length (he’s basically a cutout of Castonzo), and he moves pretty well on film, has good lateral range and change of direction, and looks natural climbing to the second level. His technical issues are many: bends at the waist, his feet get crossed up at times, he lacks the initial anchor to handle NFL bull rushers, definitely lacks the re-anchor to handle a speed-to-power rush. And while he has long arms, he doesn’t know how to use them, his hands and fit are out of sync, and as a result he tends to catch rushers rather than block them. This also shows up when blocking in space, as he tends to crash into defenders rather than block them effectively. He’s raw and needs a lot of refinement to play on Sundays, but the physical tools are there.
7/32 -- Javon Patterson, C, Ole Miss, B-
Looks like a solid prospect with upside as he gets stronger, he plays with reasonably good technique and he’s aggressive at the snap, good range and good feet, he can get better with his hands and his stance. He’s not going to challenge anyone for a starting spot, but he’s a guy to keep an eye on as a C/G combo, which is something of value on game day. He'll miss this year with an ACL, but he can still work on his upper body, and hopefully he doesn't lose his lateral ability when he comes back.
What I think they did well: All told, I think the Colts added a lot of competition across the board. The DB room is now crowded, with multiple versatile players, they added some potential depth at OL, more speed at LB, a decent edge prospect, and an electrifying YAC receiver. I'm excited to see these guys in action soon.
What I think they missed on: No true pass rush prospect. I'm underwhelmed by Banogu and I'm not sure that what they saw before the draft is what they saw after they got him in the building, but he is an intriguing physical prospect who hasn't received a lot of coaching yet. They passed on better prospects (for various reasons, some are easily understandable -- Sweat might not have passed their medical, Tillery had a medical red flag, Simmons had medical and character concerns, etc.), then took a project player in the second. Between Banogu, Tell, Speed and Green, the coaches are going to be asked to develop some very raw talent right away.