One of my favorite articles every year is writing up a mock draft where the Colts only draft Senior Bowl players. I think it is a fun way to show where some of these players may go after their Senior Bowl performances while also giving myself a restricted way to write up a mock draft.
The rules are simple. I can only draft Senior Bowl players and I have to draft with the current needs that the team has before free agency. So right now I am operating with the mindset of the Colts not having a quarterback or left tackle even though the Colts may not necessarily have those needs come the real draft. I also cannot make any trades or anything in this draft.
The point of this is not to create a legit mock draft so please don’t attack me in the comments Colts fans. The point is mainly to talk about some Senior Bowl players while also giving them general round projections to the Colts.
Round 1 Pick 21: Jordan Smith, DE, UAB
A player who is still a bit under the radar at this moment but will certainly climb throughout this draft process is UAB DE Jordan Smith. Smith came in at a massive 6’6” 255 pounds with a wingspan of 83 inches. He is a massive human being with some impressive film in college as well. In terms of what Chris Ballard likes in his pass rushers, Smith checks off nearly every box with his explosiveness and length.
While Smith didn’t destroy this week as most first round type players do, he did look like he was on another level from most players at the event. His length and size are impressive but the way he gets off the ball and even the way he bends is really impressive. Ballard fell for lengthy, explosive pass rushers in the past like Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu and I can’t see him not being in love with those traits in Smith (Smith is also a much more complete prospect than those two were).
UAB DE Jordan Smith (I think) executing a near perfect ghost technique here on the edge pic.twitter.com/o7XxB1wnf1— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 28, 2021
Round 2 Pick 54: Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Okay before you all kill me for drafting a linebacker this early, let me explain myself. The Colts will have a need at that position with Anthony Walker Jr. departing in free agency. On top of that, the Colts could use another athlete in the group who can cover and play the SAM role like Bobby Okereke did last year. With all that in mind, the Senior Bowl gave us a linebacker who was basically crafted in a lab for Chris Ballard this year.
Ballard loves his linebackers to be athletic and lengthy and Browning fits that description perfectly. Coming in at 6’3” 241 pounds with 33-inch arms, he is bigger than both Leonard and Okereke with arms that are only slightly smaller. This week in Mobile he has been working as an off-ball linebacker, SAM backer, and pass rusher to show off his versatility. The kicker on top of all that? Browning ran a 4.56 out of high school in the 40 yard dash. When you factor in the fact that he was just 18 and likely runs faster now, he is a freak of an athlete who someone like Chris Ballard would struggle to pass up late in the second round.
Is that Baron Browning wearing #55 off the edge for National squad?!— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 28, 2021
Smashed the fullback here! Wooo pic.twitter.com/A4nV7rr3io
Round 3 Pick 85: D’Ante Smith, OT, ECU
The player who impressed me the most all week was East Carolina OT D’Ante Smith. I knew coming into the week that he would be an absolute freak of an athlete as there was a viral video of him doing a 48” box jump with ease. I just had no clue how he would hold up against some of the power rushers with his frame and weight (came in at 294 pounds).
Well I was thoroughly impressed. There were a few bull rushes that gave him some problems but outside of that, he looked outstanding all week. He was far and away the most explosive athlete at tackle in Mobile and he has a wicked punch that is severely underrated. He was aggressively attacking these defenders all week and showed a nasty side of himself that I know the Colts would love. I’d personally start him through the growing pains on this Colts’ offensive line but even if he is just the swing guy, I want him in Indy next year.
D’Ante Smith has been my favorite player to watch this week. Another really good rep from the East Carolina tackle pic.twitter.com/u3RM2sw6PK— Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno) January 28, 2021
Round 4 Pick 118: Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
Now we are getting into draft crush territory. Coming into the week I had the way too hot of a take that Keith Taylor was the best cornerback going down to Mobile. After the week of practices and that take doesn’t seem too bad right about now.
Taylor is the quintessential Chris Ballard cornerback for both good and bad reasons. He is a long and physical corner with the right mentality you want out of a player of that position. He had some great reps in phase where he had excellent eye discipline to stay on his receiver and carry them down the field in the difficult one on ones. His only issue is, brace yourselves Rock Ya-Sin haters, he was a bit grabby all week and his technique could use a little work. Still, I think taking a shot on a corner with athleticism, length, and the right mindset for your team on day three is a great pick.
Outstanding rep from @UW_Football CB Keith Taylor!— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) January 27, 2021
No panic vs the stutter, maintains the relationship, stays in-phase, has his off hand on the WR and eyes back to the QB (look and lean) and then speed/strength to finish for the PBU.
Big time! #PurpleReign pic.twitter.com/lcg3vei5GT
Round 5 Pick 149: Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
Cornell Powell is one of the crazier college stories I have heard in a while. After totaling less than 400 yards receiving in his first four seasons at Clemson, he exploded for 883 yards and 7 touchdowns as a Senior. This production was good enough to land him a spot in the Senior Bowl where he had a pretty solid showing as well.
Powell is an enigma in terms of where he may go come draft time. On his Senior film, he showcased excellent route running and ball tracking down the field, and looks like the knockoff version of Terry McLaurin on tape. Where teams value his weird college production will be key though. If he is there on day three though, I would love for the Colts to take a flyer on him.
Clemson WR Cornell Powell is physical at the lien of scrimmage to create immediate separation, then snaps down and finishes downhill on the comeback route. Twitchy #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/3SNV3gzWYl— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 27, 2021
Round 6 Pick 182: Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa
I’m double dipping here at defensive end but I love this player and I think he brings some much-needed juice to the Colts’ pass rush. Elerson Smith is a bit of a forgotten man in this class with the FCS season being canceled due to Covid in 2020. With his tools though, he is an intriguing player to keep an eye on.
Smith started off a bit slow in Mobile but picked it up on day two and three. He is a twitched up pass rusher who wins with speed and bend. He has some work to do in terms of stringing moves together and his overall game but he would be a perfect day three fit for this Colts team.
Round 7 Pick 213: Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
To conclude this mock, another player who fits the Chris Ballard mold is Minnesota CB Benjamin St-Juste. St-Juste had a decent week in Mobile but where he really stands out is in his measureables. At 6’3” 200 pounds, he has the size and length to succeed in the Colts’ scheme. When you add in that he is a phenomenal tackler and run defender and I could see Ballard liking him on day three of the draft.
I have my own concerns with St-Juste’s game, particularly with his deep coverage and how he gets beat on double moves. I do think a special team/depth role could be best for him in the league. He looked strong in red zone drills in Mobile and as I said above, his tackling and physicality are great. I think the Colts will be interested in him come draft time.
#Gophers cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is veryyy physical. His recovery speed and agility are two major strengths. He also has an 80-inch wingspan.— Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) January 27, 2021
St-Juste stops on a dime, flips his hips and changes direction quickly. Then, he uses his length to create breakups. pic.twitter.com/3bXE25unPU