As we all very well know by now, Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard loves trading back in the Draft, doing so with 2 of his 4 first round picks, while getting significantly more draft capital in the process. After the Carson Wentz’ trade, the Colts are now without their 3rd round pick this year, and a conditional 2nd that could easily turn into a 1st round pick if everything goes according to plan next year. A common theme during the Ballard regime, is that he loves his draft picks more than anything, so a trade back is the most realistic scenario for the Colts, now more than ever.
Indy has a glaring hole at left tackle, this is inarguably the biggest need this team has after Castonzo’s retirement, and with perhaps the deepest tackle class in recent memory, there is no rush to get one, as there are several Day 2 prospects that could easily be day one starters, like Liam Eichenberg, Walker Little, Dillon Radunz, Samuel Cosmi, and Alex Leatherwood. Besides, whoever eventually gets the Colts’ left tackle job will have the luxury of playing next to the NFL’s best left guard in Quenton Nelson, and with a top 5 center in Ryan Kelly.
The thing with this draft, is that after the first 6 picks it gets impossible to predict where teams rank the players. Lawrence, Wilson, Sewell, Chase, and Pitts will definitely go within the first 10 picks, but after that, I expect this to be the Draft with the most predicted “reaches” and “falls” in the history of the NFL, this is because without a combine and the proper scouting process, there will be a lot more of variation between different teams’ big boards. I expect Ballard to take full advantage of this situation, as there is a very reasonable chance that a player a general manager has ranked as a top 10 player falls all the way down to 21 because of this.
Judging by his history and the way he always talks about getting more draft picks, I am almost certain that the Colts will once again trade back during the draft. Of course, I would not claim it with certainty, as the draft is impossible to predict correctly (reason #1 why I believe mock drafts are a waste of time), but assuming some consistency within the countless big boards I have read this month, the best players that could be available come the 21st pick are Teven Jenkins (OT), Kwity Paye (EDGE), Greg Newsome (CB), and Christian Darrisaw (OT). Paye is the only player I would stay put for, as he has the most upside at edge rusher, a position the Colts are in desperate need. Jenkins and Darrisaw are better options than any of the Day 2 choices mentioned above, but the marginal advantage of getting them over Paye, or getting the extra picks from trading back does not justify the opportunity cost of not doing so.
Now there is also a chance that a player the Colts have higher on their board than the rest of us is there at #21, and instead of trading back Ballard decides to get his guy instead of risking another team getting him before the next pick. CB has not been afraid to draft a player he believes in much higher than what the draft analysts were expecting him to be taken at, like for example All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard.
In my opinion, if there is a draft, and situation great for a trade back, it’s this one. The Colts need the extra draft capital from trading back, while there are also plenty of options to fill the biggest position of need at left tackle, while there are no obvious picks that would really come in and help the Colts right away to justify using the 21st overall pick.