According to ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts have a handful of top draft needs, and to no one’s surprise, offensive tackle and edge are chief among them:
Top draft needs: OT, Edge, WR, S, TE, CB
The Eagles’ offensive line was missing Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson for at least half the season in 2020, and Carson Wentz was drilled for 50 sacks in 12 games — the most in the NFL despite sitting for a fourth of the season. His play suffered, and you can bet the Colts aren’t willing to make the same mistake with him after acquiring him from Philly. Longtime left tackle Anthony Costanzo retired, and Indy might target a difference-maker in the first round at that spot.
But the Colts lost Denico Autry and are likely to lose Justin Houston off the edge, too, and I think it’s possible they turn their attention there if the top tackles are off the board when they pick at No. 21. Either way, expect both categories to get attention over the team’s six picks (tied for the second fewest). Secondary and wide receiver depth are other areas to watch.
Picks in the first three rounds: Nos. 21, 54
McShay does a great job of accurately highlighting the Colts’ biggest roster deficiencies right now—although with Anthony Walker’s departure in free agency, a third linebacker might make some sense at some point too alongside Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke.
This is just my opinion, but if either Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw or Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins are still on the board at #21, I could see the Colts keeping the pick and taking either one of the draft’s top offensive tackle prospects in a loaded positional class.
Otherwise, I could see them trading down at least a few spots, snagging the likes of Texas’s Samuel Cosmi, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg, North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz, etc. and recouping some draft picks and value lost from the offseason’s earlier Carson Wentz blockbuster trade.
Edge remains a top priority as well, but keeping Carson Wentz comfortable and upright remains a critical issue—if he’s to regain his prior bonafide MVP caliber form in Indy.
It’s important that his Colts tenure not get off to a rocky start—meaning it’s imperative to put him in the utmost position to succeed—by any reasonable means necessary.
By soundly filling the left tackle spot, it also allows the biggest strength of the Colts roster, the team’s collective stalwart offensive line, to remain one of the league’s truly elite units—without any potential weak links going forward.
Meanwhile, with the exception of Miami’s Jaelan Phillips (who comes with injury concerns including a lengthy concussion history), no pass rusher reasonably available at #21 and onward appears to be much of an ‘instant impact’ pass rusher—without some additional work and seasoning.
There’s definitely talent, but there’s a lot of raw, toolsy developmental edge prospects—who have ‘boom or bust’ potential—more than immediate ‘plug and play’ starters.
The Colts clearly weren’t scared off by that in 2018 when general manager Chris Ballard selected Kemoko Turay in the second round (and Ben Banogu a year later), but there’s a distinction between first and second round prospects entirely—and what risk you’re ultimately willing to take at each stage of the NFL Draft.
Still, as McShay notes, the Colts clearly have their work cut out for them this offseason—with team needs at several key positions (including some historically difficult ones to fill).