The Indianapolis Colts selected Maryland safety Nick Cross by trading for the 96th overall pick (Rd 3) from the Denver Broncos, surrendering a 2023 3rd round pick and this year’s 179th overall pick (Rd 5) in the process:
The 6’0”, 212 pound junior safety (with 31 1/2” arms) recorded 66 tackles (44 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles during 12 starts in 2021—earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors (for a third season).
He ran a 4.34 forty time and has a 37 inch vertical jump.
Like the others selected on ‘Day 2’ of this year’s Colts draft class, Cross is another RAS freak:
Nick Cross is a FS prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.87 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 12 out of 846 FS from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/WrB6AwiICy #RAS pic.twitter.com/xarJyIlK54— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 8, 2022
The Colts don’t have a glaring need at safety right now, but 3rd-year pro Julian Blackmon is working his way back from a torn Achilles, Khari Willis is entering a contract year, and veteran signing Rodney McLeod is purely a short-term solution on a one-year deal.
Therefore, adding a developmental safety with special athletic traits makes sense bigger picture for the Colts safety position—as soon as 2023 for a potential prominent role really.
However, Cross can be a valuable special teams contributor in the mean time with his elite speed and hard-hitting ability in 2021—and if he presses for a larger role sooner, so be it.
Cross plays downhill with explosion and can be a thumper against the opposing ball carrier with excellent range in coverage and quality ball skills (he’s similar to Blackmon in that regard)—but he’ll need to get better with his backpedal.
Here’s what else NFL draft experts have said:
Nick Cross (FS) comes downhill in a hurry & with some power to force a fumble pic.twitter.com/IvRL7O7WAV— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 7, 2022
Solid play vs the run from Nick Cross (FS):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 7, 2022
-Comes downhill quickly but under control
-Breaks down to avoid over pursuing & force the RB to bounce
-Wraps up the legs & forces a 3rd & 7
...and they take my best available player. Safety Nick Cross, Maryland.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 30, 2022
Dude is a playmaker. Can't believe he lasted this long.
This is wild, but I’m a big Nick Cross fan. Wanted Bucs to take him at 91 https://t.co/JqYtUEVsW1— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 30, 2022