Okay, I know... I know, general manager Chris Ballard may never go for it, but you’ve already made it this far, so just hear me out.
Colts fans know that Ballard likes picks.
Coming off a grand slam of a draft class too, it only makes sense that the more “pitches” Ballard gets to hit, the more chances he gets to knock “balls out of the park”. It’s a good thing when Ballard gets more picks because there’s a strong likelihood that the Colts are going to end up with more talented players on their roster.
However, this is a rare chance where a superstar wide receiver in his prime is made available—an anomaly to historical NFL trends, much like former Oakland Raiders superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack was last year.
It’s true that each great dynasty has gotten there largely by developing their homegrown talent whether it’s the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, New England Patriots (yuck!), or New York Yankees, etc.
No one is saying that Ballard should suddenly wheel and deal all of his draft picks in the coming years, all that I’m arguing here is that maybe this is that one time to make a rare exception.
The Colts are additionally armed with the New York Jets 2nd round pick (Pick #34), meaning that the team could potentially package this year’s first or that pick with next year’s first round pick in order to make an attractive offer for Beckham—while still retaining an early draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft for “Ballard building”.
There are very few players who should warrant such a heavy haul of draft picks, but Odell Beckham Jr. is arguably one of them. When healthy, he’s a Top 3 wide receiver in the NFL, and he’s still only 26 years old.
The former 2014 1st round pick of the New York Giants is fresh off a season in which he caught 77 receptions for 1,052 receiving yards (13.7 ypr avg.) and 6 touchdown receptions in 12 starts—all while playing with an aged Eli Manning and a porous Giants offensive line.
He’s the fastest wide receiver in the Super Bowl Era to reach 5,000 receiving yards.
He’s a 2x 2nd-Team All-Pro, 3x Pro Bowler, and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The 6-year veteran might be the freakiest athlete in the NFL as someone who can out-run, out-jump, and simply out-acrobat opposing defensive backs.
The Colts have struggled finding a consistent go-to wide receiver on the other side of star wideout T.Y. Hilton since franchise great Reggie Wayne last played years ago. Dontrelle Inman was a pleasant surprise last season, Chester Rogers has had his moments, and even Zach Pascal had some big catches last season, but the Colts could still stand to significantly upgrade. It’s nothing against that group, but they’re each ideally best suited as #3-4 wide receivers in an elite offense.
Yes, franchise quarterback Andrew Luck can make any wide receiver look good—much like Peyton Manning once did when undrafted rookie Blair White caught 5 touchdown passes in the 2010 season. However, just because Luck (and Manning in the past) could, doesn’t mean the Colts front office should place them in an opportunity where they should have to.
After all, the Colts are armed with $101.5M of cap space and 9 draft picks this offseason.
Beckham wouldn’t be just an ordinary complement to Hilton, but a “1A” to Hilton’s “1B”, and unquestionably, the best wide receiver tandem in football—now that Antonio Brown has seemingly forced his way out of Pittsburgh.
The defensive blueprint for stalling the Colts offense has been pretty standard, double cover Hilton and force other Indy receivers to consistently beat the opposing defense one-on-one. With Beckham lining up on the opposite side of Hilton, opposing defensive coordinators only have the luxury of double covering one, meaning that either Beckham or Hilton is going to see one-on-one coverage all afternoon—and as a Colts fan, that’s a matchup I’m going to take any day, every day 24/7—especially with Andrew Luck throwing the football.
At only 26 years old, Beckham is young enough to fit into the Colts contending core both now and into the future—as he realistically has at least 6-7 elite seasons left. He’d also be the most talented target that Andrew Luck has ever had—and likely would ever have.
With T.Y. Hilton turning 30 in November and no long-term #2 option next to him, “something has to give at wide receiver” for the Colts this offseason. Hilton still has at least two elite seasons left in him and has shown no signs of slowing down. However, can the Colts afford to wait on a young wide receiver from this year’s NFL Draft when wide receivers typically take 3 years to fully develop and Andrew Luck will be 30 himself in September?
Beckham presents a rare opportunity to both contend now with and in the future.
Yes, he’s a bit of a diva, but not in a polarizing, “destroy a locker room” type of way. Simply put, it’s rare when a transcendent talent like him is available these days. When a bonafide young superstar like Beckham hits the market, it’s not only splashy to strike, but simply savvy for the Colts.