According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts will select Miami edge Jaelan Phillips and North Dakota State offensive tackle Dillon Radunz in their recent ‘tag-teamed’ three round 2021 NFL Mock Draft:
21. Indianapolis Colts
Kiper’s pick: Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
I can’t believe this is the first edge rusher off the board. Phillips has a history of injuries — he medically retired from football when he was at UCLA — but there’s no denying his pass-rush traits. And that’s the Colts’ biggest need.
Phillips’ chances of being available here: 74.0%
54. Indianapolis Colts
McShay’s pick: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Remember when new Colts QB Carson Wentz was under fire every Sunday last season in Philadelphia? It didn’t go so well. And left tackle Anthony Castonzo just retired.
Regarding Phillips, the 6’5”, 254 pound pass rusher recorded 45 tackles (21 solo), 15.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, an interception, and 3 passes defensed for the Hurricanes defense in 10 starts this past season—earning Second-Team All-American and Second-Team All-ACC honors respectively.
Phillips tested out incredibly well at his recent Miami Pro Day with a RAS [Relative Athletic Score] of 9.9 out of a maximum of 10.0:
Jaelan Phillips is a DE prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.9 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 14 out of 1345 DE from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 29, 2021
Splits projected, times unofficial, updated with bench and corrected size.https://t.co/3YnkIqkMto #RAS pic.twitter.com/46v59d5MOH
Featuring an arsenal of pass rushing moves, Phillips is arguably the most polished pass rusher in this year’s draft class—which otherwise is largely comprised of a lot of raw, but toolsy developmental ‘boom or bust’ edge prospects:
VIDEO: Jaelan Phillips' vision is sensational and a big reason why he's my favorite edge rushing prospect in this class.— Johnny Kinsley (Tony Romo Hive CEO) (@Brickwallblitz) April 2, 2021
Would love to have him on the Browns. pic.twitter.com/94sWDIrFIC
If not for durability concerns (including a lengthy concussion history), Phillips would be a projected Top 10 NFL draft pick and would be nowhere near in reasonable striking range for the Colts to potentially select with the 21st overall pick:
Phillips evaluation reminds me so much of Montez Sweat. Everyone knew he was a top 5 talent. There were other concerns that you needed to feel comfortable with. Some teams were ok with it and others weren’t. Sweat has turned out to be a HR for Washington. pic.twitter.com/gQ8gyHLeHS— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 29, 2021
I'm moving Jaelan Phillips up my rankings. Had him 11th in my initial top 100. Reminds me of Joey Bosa.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 29, 2021
he's the most gifted edge rusher in the draft— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 17, 2021
Don’t see many quality spin moves on Saturday’s... pic.twitter.com/J877qsTlqz— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 20, 2021
He’s one of the few ‘instant impact’ pass rushers in this year’s draft class and in-time, he could develop into an ‘alpha dog’ pass rusher to anchor the Colts’ pass pressure off the edge—which right now, is sorely lacking a top dawg.
The Colts have already lost starting defensive end Denico Autry in free agency (and veteran Justin Houston could soon join him). While the team re-signed Al-Quadin Muhammad and signed Isaac Rochell to bolster their positional rotation, the team simply lacks ‘a dude’ out there (i.e., an edge that opposing offenses have to consistently game plan for).
On talent, ability, and upside alone, Phillips is well worth the 21st overall pick. However, ‘one of the best abilities is availability’, and unless his injury status is cleared by the Colts’ medical staff (which could be very challenging with lingering concussion concerns), selecting him could be a very risky proposition for Indianapolis—or any NFL team.
Meanwhile, at 6’5”, 301 pounds, Radunz is considered one of the top ‘Tier 2’ offensive tackle prospects in what’s been widely regarded as a loaded offensive tackle draft class.
Radunz made 32 straight starts at left tackle for the Bison. He was a first-team FCS All-American and First-Team All-MVFC in 2019. Unfortunately, Radunz made one start in 2020 before the MVFC postponed its season in 2020 due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
Like Phillips, Radunz is another athletic draft prospect that the Colts could potentially select on draft weekend—showcasing a 9.28 RAS out of 10.0:
Dillon Radunz is a OT prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.28 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 83 out of 1134 OT from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/iZ57jD1mSB #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/JtlKkH7pPS— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 5, 2021
One of biggest compliments scouts can give a big guy is that they run like a smaller guy. Checkout LT in this clip. @NDSUfootball OL Dillon Radunz is moving! @DillonRadunz is arguably best combination of athlete & nasty in this year’s OL class. Can’t wait to see where he ends up. pic.twitter.com/J8LOTHhzJ5— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 16, 2021
Radunz is considered one of the top offensive tackle prospects that could go in Round 2 or early Round 3, featuring athleticism, movement skills, and toughness as a run blocker—with good hands in pass protection, who’s physical at the point of attack:
My current OT5, Radunz can play guard or tackle on the next level. He’s an ideal fit in a zone based blocking scheme and should be a prime target in the 2nd round for OL needy teams. pic.twitter.com/KV5hCiFmR0— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 12, 2021
North Dakota State OT Dillon Radunz (6-6, 300, Sr.) is impressive. He shows lots of intriguing traits. Intensity as a run blocker and plenty of tools as a pass protector. pic.twitter.com/KV5hCiFmR0— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) August 27, 2020
However, some draft experts project him as an offensive guard best at the NFL level, and there’s been some questions regarding his practice habits. He’ll also need to improve his lateral quickness in pass protection.
Like other top offensive line prospects in this years’ draft class, Radunz projects as a natural fit in the Colts’ zone blocking scheme.
If selected by the Colts, Radunz would immediately fill the vacant starting left tackle spot in the wake of longtime veteran anchor Anthony Castonzo’s earlier offseason retirement.
He would help patch up what otherwise projects to be one of the league’s top offensive line units collectively again—if the Colts can simply shore up left tackle.
Both Phillips and Radunz are two top prospects at their respective positions and would fill major team needs for the Colts going forward—making them two key players to monitor as the NFL Draft is now imminent.