According to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, the Indianapolis Colts could be going on the “heavy offensive” early in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He projects the Colts to select Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III with their first round pick, #13th overall:
13. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Why not a quarterback here? The answer is that general manager Chris Ballard doesn’t seem like the type of evaluator to love the traits of Jordan Love or Jacob Eason, the two best quarterbacks left on the board. At least not in the first round.
Ballard knows he can go into 2020 with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and get consistent yet average play. That might be good enough if the Colts can surround him with better talent at receiver and remain healthier at the skill positions.
Henry Ruggs III can be Ballard’s version of Tyreek Hill—a player he found while scouting with the Kansas City Chiefs—but without any issues off the field. He has elite speed and can be a threat stretching the field or working on breaking routes where he’s set up for yards after the catch.
Colts fans won’t like this pick, but this is a prediction of what Ballard will do and not what you or I would do as the drafter. Knowing Ballard’s process, I would be shocked to see a quarterback here.
Miller then projects the Colts to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 34th overall pick (via the Redskins) in Round 2, and a little later Ruggs’ Crimson Tide teammate, CB Trevon Diggs, with their 44th overall pick.
In Round 3, Miller then has the Colts selecting Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard with their 75th overall pick.
Finding both a franchise quarterback and an upgrade at wide receiver are among the Colts biggest offseason needs right now.
This upcoming draft class is incredibly deep at wide receiver—particularly at the top, meaning it would make sense for the Colts to take early advantage of it—especially if they’re convinced they can still get a top quarterback prospect like Love in early Round 2.
Ruggs has drawn comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro Tyreek Hill (*purely from a playing standpoint) with his electrifying speed, as he caught 38 receptions for 719 receiving yards (18.9 avg. ypr) and 7 touchdown receptions in 11 games for the Crimson Tide.
He’s also capable of returning kicks, having returned 12 kicks for 286 total kick return yards (23.8 yards per return avg.) last season.
Ruggs’ addition might make it a little ‘awkward’ for last season’s hyped ‘speed addition’, Parris Campbell, who was a 2nd round pick out of Ohio State for the Colts in 2019.
Limited by injuries, Campbell endured an underwhelming rookie campaign for the Colts in 2019, catching just 18 receptions for 127 receiving yards (7.1 avg. ypr) and a touchdown reception in 7 games (3 starts).
However, the Colts and general manager Chris Ballard’s objective isn’t accounting for an awkward receiving room, it’s creating the utmost competition on the roster—and the Colts have to come away from this offseason with at least one significant upgrade at wide receiver—maybe even two.
After all, T.Y. Hilton at age 30 isn’t getting any younger, and the Colts haven’t been able to find a consistent, bonafide #2 wide receiver on the other side of Hilton since late career, franchise great Reggie Wayne retired. Their passing game has suffered in recent years as a result.
Meanwhile, at quarterback, Love is raw and still needs to fine-tune his decision-making and accuracy at times, having thrown 17 interceptions last season to 20 touchdown passes.
However, Love also has the natural arm talent, mobility, and ability to throw from different arm angles—where it’s not too hard to squint (*and dream a little*) in order to see a Patrick Mahomes prototype (disclaimer: I’m not saying Love is as good as the NFL’s reigning MVP by any means). However, there are some definite similarities in athleticism/playing style.
With incumbent starter Jacoby Brissett still under contract another year, the Colts could allow Love to develop behind him for at least part or all of the 2020 season—before fully taking over the starting reins in 2021.
It’s reminiscent to the Kansas City Chiefs’ own blueprint with Mahomes and former starting quarterback Alex Smith—which has worked out to perfection in retrospect.
Overall, Colts fans would have to be generally pleased with this projected draft haul by Chris Ballard and the front office.
However, we’re still a long way from April—and a lot can change before then.