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Colts GM Chris Ballard Firmly Believes Dayo Odeyingbo’s ‘Talent Was Worth the Risk’

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Vanderbilt at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on ‘The Colin Cowherd Podcast’, his sometimes questioned selection of Vanderbilt defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo with the 54th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft shouldn’t be—because ‘the talent was worth the risk’:

“The talent was so high, that we thought that it was worth the risk,” Ballard told Cowherd on Wednesday. “And then when you combine that with where he was at in his rehab process (and) our medical information from our doctors—we had them do a bunch of work on it.”

“We thought Dayo was a first round talent, and to get him at #54, we felt pretty fortunate to do.”

“Any time that you are able to add a disruptive player up front, it’s hard to do in the draft—especially later in the draft. Usually when you look at the defensive ends in this league, sure you’re going to get some that show up later in the draft. But the majority of them are coming early in the draft, so when you can get a big disruptive player at #54, we just thought it was worth the risk.”

The 6’5”, 285 pound defensive end (with long arms of 35 1/4” inches) recorded 32 tackles (15 solo), 8.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and a pass defensed during 8 starts in 2020—earning First-Team All-SEC honors for the Commodores.

Having already drafted Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye in the first round (and with a still glaring hole at starting left tackle), some questioned Odeyingbo’s selection with the 54th overall pick just a round later—especially coming off such a serious Achilles tear.

That being said, Ballard compared Odeyingbo’s selection to soon-to-be second-year promising young safety Julian Blackmon—and loves building in the defensive trenches regardless.

Blackmon was a revelation in the backend of the Colts’ secondary at safety as a rookie standout—bouncing completely back from an ACL tear suffered late during his senior season at Utah—but being well worth the short wait:

“I’ll never forget last year when we took Julian Blackmon in the third round, and we got a lot of questions on the pick, and we kept wondering, because we had Julian at one point in the backend of the first round—and we ended up kind of kicking him down a little bit,” Ballard added.

“But he had an ACL (tear).”

“And I just said, ‘Look, worst case scenario, when are we going to get him back? Can we live with that? And is the player good enough worth the wait?’”

“And we thought it was worth the wait.”

Had it not been for the torn Achilles, Odeyingbo arguably would’ve been a first round pick, and there are reports that the Los Angeles Rams would’ve taken him shortly after the Colts—with the 57th overall pick just a few picks later.

He’s expected to be cleared to play in late September/October.

At his sheer size, the nicknamed ‘Human Hurricane’ has tentacle arms, explosion, athleticism, and is incredibly disruptive with the ability to consistently penetrate into opposing backfields/passing pockets (from Stampede Blue’s own Zach Hicks):

He should play a role similar to departed defensive end Denico Autry, who was a power rushing defensive end, who could kick inside on obvious pass downs (i.e., nickel packages)—while still holding his own against the run.

While the Colts may have to wait a little bit to initially get Dayo back on the football field, it appears that the talent may very well be worth the risk—assuming he can make a full recovery from his torn Achilles—which Indianapolis firmly believes he can.