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Teacher’s Pet? ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Gives the Colts a High NFL Draft Grade Among Other Experts

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Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

According to longtime ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts fared very well in the 2020 NFL Draft—earning a high grade for their draft class:

Indianapolis Colts: A-

Top needs: QB, WR, Edge, CB

It’s easy to forget that the Colts have made the playoffs only once in the past five seasons. Heading into last season, there was some buzz around this team. But then Andrew Luck shockingly retired, Jacoby Brissett took over at quarterback and Indianapolis’ holes were exposed in a 7-9 year. Still, general manager Chris Ballard has done a good job of stocking the roster with talent since he took over in 2017. The Colts have some young stars, highlighted by a tremendous 2018 draft class, and Ballard dealt the No. 13 overall pick in this draft for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who has emerged as one of the best interior defenders in the league. Ballard also has a new starting quarterback, with veteran Philip Rivers taking the reins for at least the next year, and he also has an extra second-round pick from Washington, which traded up into Round 1 in last year’s draft.

So, how did Ballard fare this year? I’m a huge fan of 6-foot-4 wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who has legitimate No. 1 potential. He reminds me of former USC wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, and they ran similar 40 times at the combine. For a wide receiver corps that struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness last season, Pittman will provide a spark. The Colts traded up three spots to snag Jonathan Taylor (41), one of the most prolific running backs in college football history. I thought he might sneak into the first round.

Then there’s quarterback Jacob Eason (122), whom Indianapolis was able to snag in the fourth round. I thought he was a fit for the Colts with one of their second-rounders, so that’s another good value, and I’m surprised no other team took a chance on him on Day 2. He has some consistency problems, but you won’t find many quarterbacks ever with his physical tools and 6-foot-6 frame. He’s raw, but there’s no reason he has to play anytime soon. This is a good spot for him. Local kid Danny Pinter (149) is an intriguing developmental tackle for Day 3, and wide receiver Dezmon Patmon (212) is another big, 6-foot-4 pass-catcher with some tools. Isaiah Rodgers (211) has some juice in the return game.

Will this class get Indy back to the playoffs? It’s certainly possible. It should challenge for the AFC South title with Tennessee and Houston.

The Colts seemed to target dynamic playmakers early on—which their offense sorely lacked last year outside of T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack, snagging Pittman Jr. and Taylor with their first two picks, before moving on to other offensive needs.

Four of the Colts’ first 5 picks were on offensive players—as they then switched gears to address more of the defensive side of the football.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each of the Colts’ 9 selections this draft weekend.

For what it’s worth, Kiper hasn’t been alone in his assessment as other draft analysts such as ESPN’s Louis Riddick also really loved the prospect haul by Colts general manager Chris Ballard and his scouting staff:

Now, draft grades are essentially meaningless and purely for pride—as they’re ‘paper grades’ that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, as none of these prospects have even stepped foot on a practice field for their new teams yet respectively.

That being said, it’s at least encouraging that many draft experts liked what the Colts did on draft weekend—if nothing else.