With the #31st pick (acquired via trade with the San Francisco 49ers for the 34th overall pick and pick No. 122 [4th round]), Ledyard projects the Colts to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love—and a few picks later #44 overall, Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins, with Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet finishing off these new Indianapolis ‘triplets’ at #75 overall:
31. *TRADE* Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Colts receive No. 31, 49ers receive No. 34 and No. 122 (4th round)
The Colts are taking it year-to-year with Philip Rivers, but they’d be wise to look ahead at the game’s most important position. Moving back into the first round with a team they’ve recently done business with in order to get that fifth-year option on Love’s contract is a crucial move, and because it’s just a three spot jump, it won’t cost them much. Now Love can develop behind one of the best ever, with no rush to getting him on the field. The Colts can also work on dealing Jacoby Brissett at some point, holding out for an optimal price.
44. Indianapolis Colts: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
I’m not sure how I feel about Higgins and Indianapolis being paired together, but I know Philip Rivers has always done some of his best work with a big, vertical threat on the outside (Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Mike Williams), and Higgins is certainly that. I’m concerned about the lack of athleticism, but Higgins has made a living off contested catches, even against quality competition in college.
75. Indianapolis Colts: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Indy’s tough to figure out at this point in the draft, so why not take the first tight end off the board? Kmet should help Frank Reich run his coveted two tight end sets along with Jack Doyle, but he needs to improve as a run blocker or he’ll be a liability in certain situations.
Regarding Love, the 6’4”, 224 pound junior quarterback completed 293 of 473 passes (61.9%) for 3,402 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in 13 starts this past season for the Aggies.
While still raw, Jordan Love has immense talent with a live arm—including the ability to throw off multiple platforms, as well as exceptional mobility—having run a 4.74 forty at the NFL Combine. He does need to work on his decision-making and progression of reads.
Even though the Colts signed veteran gunslinger Philip Rivers, he’s 38 years old, and it could be prudent for the team to begin to develop his long-term successor under him.
Love could have a “redshirt year” under Rivers next season before fully taking over the Colts’ starting reins in 2021.
That being said, if general manager Chris Ballard was convinced that Love was the Colts future franchise quarterback, would he have traded away the 13th overall pick—and risk the chance of losing Love all together to another team?
Meanwhile, the 6’4”, 216 pound big bodied junior wideout, Higgins, caught 59 receptions for 1,167 receiving yards (19.8 ypr. avg.) and 13 touchdown receptions in 15 starts—earning 1st-Team All-ACC honors in 2019.
He finished his Clemson career tied for the most receiving touchdowns (27) in school history with former Tigers, turned NFL stars DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.
Higgins has excellent size, hands, and ball-skills—with the ability to win ‘jump balls’ in 50-50 matchups down the field. The big knocks on him are his lack of speed (ran around a 4.55 forty at his Pro Day) and athleticism (36% NFL percentile adjusted SPARQ rating).
If Higgins’ size, productivity, and skill-set overcomes his lack of speed/athleticism in the Colts’ scouting department’s eyes, then he makes a lot of sense for Indianapolis.
The Colts need another wide receiver to pair with Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton on the other side, and Philip Rivers has had a lot of success connecting with big bodied, deep threats throughout his career—from former Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson to emerging youngster Mike Williams last season.
Lastly, the 6’6”, 262 pound junior tight end Cole Kmet caught 43 receptions for 515 receiving yards (12.0 ypr. avg.) and 6 touchdown receptions in 10 starts for the Fighting Irish last season.
Kmet is highly regarded as one of the best tight end prospects in this year’s draft class and played his collegiate football in the Colts ‘own backyard’ in South Bend, Indiana—as a former teammate of their All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson.
He’s a pretty good athlete for the tight end position too—having posted a 4.7 forty time, 37.0 inch vertical, and 123.0 inch broad jump. Kmet’s SPARQ rating is in the 77.4% NFL percentile—which means he’s certainly well above average.
Kmet is predominantly a receiving tight end with good size, speed, hands, and the ability to fight through contact after the catch. He needs to get stronger physically and at the point of attack—and he’s still developing as a blocker (although he’s a willing one).
Of course, as the Colts just let Eric Ebron walk in free agency, the team is in the market for another tight end to pair with Pro Bowler Jack Doyle.
Kmet is in the traditional tight end mold, as a big body who can provide a receiving threat in the middle of the field for Rivers—who also excels throwing to his tight ends (see: Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry). The Colts could always use another big bodied red zone threat too within their offense—especially with Ebron having departed.
While cornerback and potentially pass rusher could still be significant needs for the Colts, it’s possible that the Colts could fill these holes through free agency in the coming weeks.
As it stands, this is a talented offensive trio that the Colts are projected to land in this new mock draft—all of whom could be future building blocks for years to come.