Chris Ballard and the Colts have done a fantastic job this offseason re-signing their own guys and bring in new players to strengthen the team. Ballard has done such a good job that there aren’t really any glaring holes/needs. He’s managed to keep together 21 out of 22 starters (electing not to re-sign Al Woods) while adding a wide receiver to help the offense out in Devin Funchess and adding a pass rusher to help the defense out in Justin Houston. All while still having around $60 million in cap space left and 9 draft picks.
Speaking of those 9 draft picks 3 are in the top 60 of the draft. So with only two weeks until the draft, using knowledge of the team and the upcoming draft prospects here is the mock draft. Let’s Go!
Round 1 (Pick 26) - Safety - Chauncey Gardner-Johnson - Florida
Colts hit the ground running grabbing a versatile do it all safety in Gardner-Johnson. I’ve previously mocked him to the Colts in the second round but the closer we get to the draft the higher Gardner-Johnson seems to be rising. Grabbing a versatile safety in the first round ticks off the need for a future starting safety alongside Hooker and gives the Colts a dynamic safety tandem for years to come.
Round 2 (Pick 34) - IDL - Dexter Lawrence - Clemson
The Colts continue on the defensive side of the ball in selecting Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence is a big, big man weighing in at around 340 lbs but you wouldn’t guess that by how he plays. He plays a lot faster and nimbler than his 340 lbs suggests. Lawrence isn’t your traditional nose tackle who is becoming extinct in the league. He is a new breed. He can two gap, one gap, stop the run, open it up for fellow teammates and, most importantly, he can get after the quarterback himself!
Round 2 (Pick 59) - Wide Receiver - Deebo Samuel - South Carolina
Now we turn our attention to the offensive side of the ball with Deebo Samuel. Samuel was let down in college by poor quarterback play but still managed to show off just what he can bring to the NFL. Samuel also showed off at the senior bowl showcasing his great route running, catching ability and overall talent. Adding Samuel to the Colts wide receiver corps will only help take this offense to the next level!
Round 3 (Pick 89) - Tight End - Dax Raymond - Utah State
Staying on offense the Colts take Dax Raymond. Raymond is a name many will not have heard about but really should. He’s the prototypical modern tight end in that he’s a strong receiver who feeds off throws to the middle of the field in which he can dominate over linebackers trying to cover him. He has great run after the catch ability and is a big, fast target. He will only add another target and dimension for the Colts and Luck to work with.
Round 4 (Pick 129) - Edge - Maxx Crosby - Eastern Michigan
The Colts go back to defense with this pick but this time to the defensive line to take edge rusher Maxx Crosby. Crosby is a smaller school pass rusher who lit up the combine posting impressive numbers in both 40 yard dash (4.66 secs) and 3 cone (6.95 secs) all at 6’5” and 255 lbs. As mentioned, he is a smaller school prospect and did flash potential but needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as he did beat up on some lesser talent. He is a perfect developmental pass rusher who could begin his NFL career backing up the Colts current defensive ends and providing situational pass rush when needed.
Round 4 (Pick 135) - Cornerback - Isaiah Johnson - Houston
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, but this time heading back to the secondary, to select corner Isaiah Johnson. Johnson, a former wide receiver, possesses exactly what Chris Ballard likes in his corners, length, physicality and ball skills. Johnson is 6’2”, snagged 4 interceptions and 12 PBUs in his two years playing corner and can lay a nice hit when necessary. Johnson has the ability to play a variety of coverages, he can play man and zone but also press and off coverage too. His speed (4.4 secs at the combine) allows him to run step for step with wide receivers but also come down hill and tackle to reduce YAC.
Round 5 (Pick 164)- Linebacker - Bobby Okereke - Stanford
On face value the Colts don’t really have a huge need at linebacker after drafting three last year, two of which will likely be starters this year in Darius Leonard at WILL Linebacker and Matthew Adams at SAM Linebacker. Anthony Walker who was drafted in 2017 will man the MIKE Linebacker position. So why a Linebacker? Because depth is how teams win and keep winning and Bobby Okereke provides quality depth. He’s a smaller, athletic linebacker built in the mold of linebackers that Chris Ballard likes. Okereke is an athletic, rangy linebacker who attacks aggressively down hill. He holds up well enough in the run but really shines in coverage. He will be solid depth at the WILL linebacker position for the Colts.
Round 6 (Pick 199) - Offensive Tackle - Paul Adams - Missouri
The Colts need to start thinking about the future at tackle, whether it’s Anthony Castonzo’s eventual heir at left tackle or whether the team believes Braden Smith is the future at right tackle or was just a one year stop gap. Also, as of now, the Colts have a need at depth along the offensive line. Enter Paul Adams a three year starter at tackle for Missouri. He has the off field traits Ballard likes in prospects being a two year captain in 2017 and 2018. On the field Adams has the size and foundation needed to be able to develop into a NFL tackle or even being kicked inside to guard.
Round 7 (Pick 240) - Edge - Malik Reed - Nevada
The 7th round is where teams look to grab contributors on special teams, where questionable characters slide to or where developmental prospects are taken. Malik Reed is the latter, he has all the off field traits a team looks for: team captain, workout warrior and an academic. He also has a lot of on field traits that teams look out for: bend, hand usage and versatility. Reed is an intriguing prospect as he’s played full time edge rusher but also off the ball linebacker too. He’s clearly talented but needs refining and developing by an NFL coaching staff.