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Zach Hicks’ Final 2021 Colts Mock Draft + UDFA Signing Predictions

Who do I think the Colts’ draft in 2021?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 11 CFP National Championship - Alabama v Ohio State Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before we get to the picks, I just want to say a huge thank you for all the support this draft season. Every draft cycle is a long journey and I appreciate you all reading all the interviews, big boards, Under-The-Radars, and Build-A-Ballards I put out this offseason.

The Final Mock Draft that I put out each year is my best guess as to what the Colts do on draft day. These selections have nothing to do with my rankings, but are more of an educated guess based on my Chris Ballard profiles in the Build-A-Ballard series and who I think they could be interested in from my conversations with agents throughout the process. Last year, I was able to correctly predict the selections of Michael Pittman Jr and Danny Pinter as well as the Kameron Cline UDFA signing.

As a reminder, this is a best-guess and not what I hope they would do/would do myself. Please enjoy my first and final mock draft of the season and don’t kill it too much in the comments.

***TRADE: Colts trade pick 21 to the Kansas City Chiefs for picks 31 and 93. The Chiefs moved up to select Azeez Ojulari.

Kicking off this year’s mock similarly to last year’s, the Colts move back from their first pick. With only six draft picks under his belt, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Ballard will trade back from 21 on draft day. While he could jump all the way out of the first round and back to the second, I have them sitting at the end of the first round with this trade back. This trade brings the Colts’ total picks back up to 7.

Round 1 Pick 31: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While other tackles such as Teven Jenkins and Christian Darrisaw have risen up draft boards this offseason, Alex Leatherwood has become somewhat underrated. Leatherwood is coming off a National Championship season where he was awarded the Outland Trophy for the nation’s top offensive lineman. The senior offensive tackle started 41 straight games for the Crimson Tide, spending time at both right guard and left tackle. He tested as an elite athlete at his Pro Day, where he ran a 5.01 forty-yard dash, jumped 34.5 inches in the vertical, jumped 118 inches in the broad jump, and ran a 7.45 second three cone.

While Leatherwood may not be the flashy pick at left tackle, he hits almost every major criteria that the Colts look for. He is a superb athlete and this shows up in the run game, where he paves the way with great strength and length. He fits the Colts’ mindset in the run game as he drives defenders down the field and has a nasty mean streak as a finisher. In pass pro, he does need to work on his hands and overall technique. However, he is a freak athlete and a dominant run blocker. Those two traits should go great with the Colts while he develops. He would be an excellent day one starter at left tackle for the Colts and be a long-term answer at a position of need.

Round 2 Pick 54: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Colts decision-makers (Ballard, Frank Reich, Jim Irsay) have mentioned in almost every interview this offseason the need to add another playmaker to the offense. While this may seem like a reach to most reading this, Nico Collins is the receiver who fits the Ballard profile the best in this class. Collins suffered from poor quarterback play in his college career but still managed to put up 78 receptions for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns in three seasons. He has had an excellent offseason after opting out of 2020, as he dominated the Senior Bowl practices and had a great Pro Day. He ran a 4.45 forty-yard dash while jumping 37.5 inches in the vertical and running an absurd 6.71 seconds in the three cone drill.

Outside of the Senior Bowl performance and athletic profile, Collins is the type that Ballard loves at receiver. He is a massive player, standing at 6’4” 215 pounds. He excels as a vertical threat down the field, where he can win with his speed or out-jump defenders in jump ball situations. While he never had the chance to showcase it at Michigan, his route running was always really impressive for a player of his size. He also plays like a big receiver should, bullying smaller defenders with his strength and blocking at a high level on the outside. Collins would be an excellent fit as a vertical threat in this offense, with the potential to be a star with proper development.

Round 3 Pick 94: Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The Colts need an edge rusher in this draft and one of my favorite fits is Elerson Smith from Northern Iowa. While he may be a name not on the radars of many fans, he may be the most productive and explosive edge in this entire class. Despite not having a season in 2019, Smith finished his college career with 22 sacks, including 14.5 in his junior year. In his year off, he bulked up to 262 pounds and had a great showing at the Senior Bowl. He tested as an insane athlete at his Pro Day, posting a 41.5-inch vertical jump and 127-inch broad jump. He also put up a very solid 7.11 second three cone time.

On film, Smith is a silky smooth edge rusher whose explosiveness just pops off the screen. He is in the backfield before the opposing tackle is even ready half the time. He may not be extremely polished as a pass rusher but he does have a few moves that he excels at (notably a nasty swim move). He is a high effort run defender too and holds up well at the point of attack in the run. With the major need at edge rusher in this draft, getting a player with the traits that Smith has would be a huge addition in the third round.

Round 4 Pick 127: Tyree Gillespie, SAF, Missouri

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 28 Missouri at UConn Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Safety is an underrated need for the Colts in this draft. They have two young studs in Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon but the depth after them is thin at best. With the Colts’ desire to play three safety sets, this was the plan last year until Hooker tore his Achilles, I think we could see a safety selected earlier than expected. Gillespie is a player that the Colts really like in this class and for good reason. His flashes are among the best in the entire class, as he showcased elite range and closing speed. He struggled a bit as a single-high safety but could thrive in the Colts’ cover two scheme. Throw in that he can learn behind two extremely smart safeties and I love this fit on day three of the draft.

Round 5 Pick 165: Jacob Harris, TE, UCF Boca Raton Bowl - BYU v Central Florida Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

This pick is one of my favorites in this mock draft. Jacob Harris played receiver at UCF but his athletic profile, one that is similar to Darren Waller, has some teams (like the Colts) viewing him as a tight end. He measured at 6’5” 219 pounds at his Pro Day and ran a 4.43 second forty time, while also posting a 40.5 inch vertical and 6.51 second three cone. On film, his physical gifts show up as he is able to pull away from defenders with ease. Playing him at tight end against linebackers would be an incredible mismatch. He would be a role player for the Colts but that is well worth the selection on day three of the draft.

Round 6 Pick 206: Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Syracuse at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chris Ballard always takes shots at the cornerback position. Even with six corners currently on the roster who seem likely to make the team in 2020, I wouldn’t put it past him to add more depth and competition to the group. A player who fits their big, physical mold is Jason Pinnock out of Pittsburgh. Pinnock has excellent ball skills in coverage and excels as a zone corner. There is potential for him to improve as a press-man player but he fits the zone scheme that the Colts deploy. He is also a very willing tackler who loves to mix it up in the run game. He may not be a lock to make this roster if selected here but he would be an interesting talent to look at on day three.

Round 7 Pick 248: Landon Young, OT, Kentucky

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - NC State v Kentucky Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the final pick in this mock draft, the Colts opt to double up on the offensive tackle position. Some are calling this a historic tackle class so it would only make sense for Ballard to get involved on day three. Young is an interesting prospect, as he has an elite athletic profile and is an excellent run blocker. Since Kentucky didn’t really have a true quarterback the past two years, Young got a lot of exposure to run blocking. However, he rarely got into pass sets in his career and is a major project in that regard. Still, he is the type of player to take a shot on with a day three pick. Also, he is an outstanding face in the community as he has logged hundreds of hours of community service in college and was the All State Good Works Team Captain in 2019.

Potential UDFA Targets

1.) Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State

Jean-Charles is a personal favorite prospect of mine in this class, as he was a blast to watch on film. Despite his smaller size and below-average athletic profile, he led college football in pass deflections in 2020 and was a First Team All American. He also played under current Colts’ DB Coach James Rowe in college, which could be a connection that pays off in undrafted free agency.

2.) Harry Crider, Center, Indiana

This one is more due to location than anything else. The Colts are obviously adding a lot of competition to their interior offensive line this offseason and adding a great athlete like Crider makes a lot of sense. Crider may be more inclined to sign with Indy due to the fact that he grew up in Indiana and went to Indiana University.

3.) Larnel Coleman, OT, UMASS

Coleman is a player that I really like in this class. Really good athlete on film with absolute vines for arms (36.25 inch arms). He is a nasty player too and has all the traits to be a good NFL tackle. The Colts certainly like him and if he hits UDFA, I do expect them to be one of the teams to pursue him.

4.) Tim Jones, WR, Southern Miss

The Colts signed a Southern Miss wide receiver after the draft this past season and it ended up working out (DeMichael Harris) so why not return to that well? Jones is vertical receiver who showcased great speed and burst on film. He could be great competition for the bottom of the roster receiver spot on the team.

5.) Jordyn Peters, Safety, Auburn

The Colts love looking at special teams players late in the draft/in the UDFA period and that is exactly what Peters is. An explosive player on film, Peters put up a 39.5-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. He also blocked five kicks in his college career, marking him as a top special teams player.

6.) Bruno Labelle, TE, Cincinnati

Marked as the blocking tight end for the Bearcats in college, Labelle tested as a great athlete and could be a much more versatile player in the NFL. He also has the ability to play a little bit of fullback, which could be an interesting look for him with the Colts potentially experimenting with that position again this offseason.

7.) Jon Rhattigan, LB, Army

The Colts have a bit of a need at SAM linebacker this year with the departure of Anthony Walker and Bobby Okereke moving over to MIKE. EJ Speed seems ready to take that next step but Rhattigan could be a good UDFA find to potentially back up that role.

8.) Kenny Randall, DT, Charleston

Ballard loves taking shots on small school defensive tackles in undrafted free agency. Randall has freaky size and athleticism so he fits the bill of other projects that Ballard has looked at after the draft.