More than a week has gone by since the draft has ended and the Stampede Blue team has been able to digest how things went, break down each player and get a much clearer reading on how the draft played out for the Colts. Below are the opinions and grades from four members of the Stampede Blue team.
The Colts’ draft did not go the way most of us expected, but the theme became very clear after a few picks: the Colts value great athletes with versatility and high ceilings. That implies that they believe a lot in their coaching staff to coach these great athletes up. There’s some good and some questionable that came out of this draft.
The good is that the Colts got themselves a lot of young, athletic talent on defense and it gives Matt Eberflus a lot of new toys to play with, in his search for building a top 10 defense. While these toys might have an impact, it’s not a sure thing if any of them will even be starters this season.
Rock Ya-Sin will have to compete with Quincy Wilson, a player who is the same age with two years of experience under his belt including a fine 2nd half of 2018. Ben Banogu will play all over the defense, according to the Colts brass, but he definitely won’t start over Houston and Sheard at defensive end and his chance of starting at SAM, a position he’s never played before are relatively slim in 2019.
Bobby Okereke actually has the best chance of any defensive rookie of starting early on in 2019, but his game resembles that of Darius Leonard, so is he the best fit at SAM? These are many questions that need to be answered. It doesn’t mean the Colts had a weak draft if none of their draft picks start right away, but it’s clear that with their picks on defense that they went for long-term value instead of short-term success, which is a good strategy for a team with few holes.
The Colts did a great job of solidifying the defensive backfield with the additions of Ya-Sin, Tell and Willis. The defensive backfield have very good starters in Hooker, Desir and Moore plus a lot of great young depth behind them.
To me, the biggest hole on the Colts was at the receiver spot and the Colts added a nice piece in Parris Campbell, who should be a great fit in this offense. Does he solve their issues at receiver? No, because the Colts still need a good route runner at that spot, but what he does do is give you another deep threat which will help spread the field and open up a lot of things underneath.
I was hesitant of this pick at first, but after a few days, I realized it’s a genius pick for today’s NFL. There’s a reason why Ted Ginn’s offense over the last 4 seasons (in Carolina and in New Orleans) have been among the best in the league (top 5 every year). Ginn, himself, isn’t the best receiver in the world, but his mere presence makes defenses play extra deep and extra careful. If you’re a defense going up against Andrew Luck, TY Hilton and Parris Campbell, you don’t want to be beat deep, which means a lot of deep Cover 2 and Cover 4; that will lead to more opportunities underneath.
Greg Olsen was a beast in 2015 and 2016, amassing well over 1000 yards both seasons and totaling 157 catches total. Michael Thomas broke out and dominated as a possession receiver in 2017 and 2018 thanks to Ginn opening up things for the offense. The addition of Campbell will help Doyle and Ebron more than anyone. I’m also a fan of Javon Patterson, who is a very good pass protector and depth along the offensive line is absolutely crucial.
So, in all, was it a great draft?
It gives the Colts a lot of solid depth, which is crucial in today’s NFL, and it gives the Colts a lot of speed and versatility on defense. On offense, they added a bullet which should help open things up. I don’t expect any of these guys to be game-changers this season so I take that into effect in terms of grading, but overall, this draft should help the team moving forward.
Not the draft Colts fans expected, but a remarkable one nonetheless. I liked Ballard’s trade with the Redskins. It was not as one-sided as the Jets robbery the last draft, but it was still a solid move.
Rock Ya-Sin is an excellent pick. He will contribute right away and has a chance to earn a starting spot early in the season. The lack of blue-chip players in the secondary was concerning, and Ya-Sin definitely has a chance to become one.
Ben Banogu was quite a reach in my opinion. Even though he has the potential of becoming a great player, the Colts would have been better off drafting a guy with a chance of contributing right away, like A.J Brown or Trysten Hill. Still, it is hard not to recognize the extremely high ceiling of Banogu, and the abundance of draft capital may have allowed Ballard to take a chance on a player that might need a year or two before he is ready.
Parris Campbell was my favorite pick of the draft. What is not to love about a 6’ foot wide receiver with speed for days and elite college production at a top conference? Campbell can be really dangerous in the Colts offense and should contribute right away. The Colts offense lacked a guy other than Hilton that can take the top of defenses. Campbell and The Ghost should complement each other well.
Bobby Okereke and Khari Willis were very similar picks by Ballard. They are both high-character guys who should fit in right away with the culture the Colts have established in the locker room, and the two of them could see starting action right away. Okereke could start alongside Darius Leonard, as he is an instinctive linebacker with excellent athletic traits. Willis can be the complement to Malik Hooker, as Geathers never established himself as the starter at strong safety. Willis is a reliable tackler, with deceiving athleticism and good football IQ.
As for the later round picks, Marvell Tell has the traits and physical abilities to become a starting cornerback in the NFL. He will likely start as a backup, but if he embraces the Colts blue-collar culture and works his tail off, he could develop into a gem.
E.J Speed was the weirdest pick I have ever seen in a Colts draft. A quick Google search revealed that Speed was arrested and charged on credit card fraud (charges were later dropped), but he stated that he learned from such mistakes and distanced himself from people who were not helping. He also chose to play at unknown Tarleton State to be able to stay close to his brother, who was battling cancer. Speed posted incredible numbers at Tarleton State and he has the size and explosiveness to at least become a great special teamer.
Gerri Green could become a serviceable depth defensive linemen, but he will not see the field often in his rookie season. Jackson Barton is a project at tackle that needs to develop his body and technique, and Javon Patterson looks to be a versatile inside offensive lineman, who played both guard positions in college but can also play center.
Overall the Colts draft does not feature much “star” potential or high-profile picks, but it added plenty of depth to a defense in desperate need of it and added the draft’s most explosive playmaker at the receiver position.
It must be said that it’s impossible to gauge the quality or grade a draft just a week after it ended, but here we are. That said, how can you be unhappy with this draft if you’re a Colts fan? The Colts’ 2019 draft started with a great trade, giving up their 26th pick for the Redskins’ 46th pick plus their 2020 second round pick. Washington, in case you’ve never noticed, is a perpetual dumpster fire, meaning that could be the 33rd pick in the draft next year.
As far as the players we drafted, Rock Ya-Sin is a home run pick, as are the Banogu and Campbell picks. I’d argue the Okereke and Willis picks will make good as well.
As far as the Tell, Speed, and Green picks go, I watched film on them and they have upside. I also love selecting a couple offensive line prospects late in Barton and Patterson. It’s important to note that Chris Ballard and Frank Reich were really excited about going 4 for 4 with their first four picks.
I’m impressed with how many players the Colts drafted that have the potential to play multiple positions. This positional flexibility is becoming increasingly important in the NFL. Trust the binder, right?
Obviously, this was an “A” draft.
First and foremost, I love this draft. It had a clear focus and direction. It kept with Chris Ballard’s desire to build a Colts team full of explosively athletic players who are also quality people. This is the second year in a row Ballard will have taken a position group that was considered a weakness and infused it with talent to try to make it a strength. Last year it was the OL, this year the LBs.
While some analysts will say the WR position was the biggest concern for the Colts, it’s clear Chris Ballard thought what many of us thought, the biggest need was improving the overall athleticism on defense and making life more difficult for opposing QBs.
As for the picks, Rock Ya-Sin, Ben Banogu, Bobby Okereke and Khari Willis will have an opportunity to contribute on the defense from Day 1. Each player will need to develop to be strong starters but each has shown an internal willingness and drive to become better players at each step along the way. Ya-Sin should start at the CB position and allows Matt Eberflus to mix up coverage. Swapping Banogu to SAM LB should be a positive move and pairing him with Darius Leonard and Okereke will give the Colts possibly the fastest, most athletic LBs in the NFL.
Marvell Tell, EJ Speed and Gerri Green are intriguing options as special teams guys to start but show the same qualities and traits the Colts prefer. Willis and Tell will compete in the secondary. Speed is largely unknown and Green was largely overshadowed on the Mississippi State line but each could develop nicely if properly coached up. With all of these picks, one underrated aspect of the team that should dramatically improve is the special teams units.
With regards to the offense, Parris Campbell has the opportunity to be THE steal of this entire draft. He’s an explosive WR who can take it to the house at any moment. Campbell on the fast turf of Lucas Oil Stadium will drive defenses crazy. Frank Reich was beyond excited about this pick and we should be too.
The late OL picks, Jackson Barton and Javon Patterson, are sneaky good as both will have an opportunity to be quality backups but if Ballard doesn’t draft them, they are unlikely to come to the Colts as UDFA given the competition to make the roster would have been tougher.
Overall, the Colts did exactly what they said they were going to do. They brought in great locker room guys with explosive traits that add to the competition of the roster. They also took what was their biggest need and attempted to make it a strength. Again, this was another excellent draft by Chris Ballard. No reaches, just trusting the process. As if we weren’t already aware, the Colts are in good hands moving forward.