I always thought that Mock Drafts (even though very entertaining and fun to do) are just dumb. The NFL Draft is so unpredictable and filled with randomness that trying to predict exactly which player your team is going to pick is nearly impossible. That is why instead of doing a full on mock draft what I like doing is identifying several players that I would like the Colts to draft. This is my personal opinion, not players I believe the Colts will take, just players that I personally would like the Colts to take.
#1 Christian Watson, wide receiver, NDSU
The number one guy that I would love the Colts to take is receiver Christian Watson out of NDSU. Taking a player from the FCS always has its risks, but Watson has just so much athletic potential, while also having some really solid tape, that he more than justifies the risks. Watson would be the perfect complement to MPJ, and if Parris Campbell finally manages to remain somewhat healthy throughout the course of a season then Matt Ryan would have three very dynamic options to throw the ball to. Watson is projected to go somewhere in the middle of the second round, so there is a very high chance that he is there at #42. Watson would give Ryan a big deep threat with plenty of home run and contested catch potential, probably making some spectacular catches along the way. My concerns with Watson are first and foremost the level of competition he faced at NDSU, and his pedestrian ability to create separation in short and intermediate routes.
#2 Jahan Dotson, vide receiver, Penn State
Dotson is unlike Watson in that the shifty receiver out of Penn State excels at route running and sure hands, where Watson relies a lot on his big frame and overall athleticism. Dotson would give the Colts offense a guy with the ability to generate constant separation, something Indy has not enjoyed since the earlier T.Y Hilton days. An accurate passer like Ryan would certainly enjoy having a guy so adept at getting open. The reason Dotson is below Watson is that the likelihood Jahan is still there at #42 is much lower. Dotson’s main knock on his game is that he does not offer much potential to get yards after the catch, as he does not force that many missed tackles.
#3 Desmond Ridder/Kenny Pickett, quarterbacks, Cincinnati/Pittsburgh
Yes I know we have Matt Ryan now, and the former Falcons’ quarterback certainly looks like he can play for another few seasons. I am not suggesting the Colts draft a quarterback to start right away, and with the current state of the roster I am not sure that the Colts can give themselves the luxury of “wasting” a pick on a player that might not play for the next 1-2 seasons. However, if the Colts decide to draft and groom a quarterback under one of the smartest quarterbacks in the NFL, then Ridder and Pickett seem like two excellent choices. Desmond Ridder has improved every single season during his time at Cincinnati, he is a great leader, has solid all around accuracy and great athleticism. Pickett’s draft stock has fallen a bit since his hands were measured at the combine, and when he will go in the draft is still uncertain, but if he is still there at #42 then the Colts should certainly consider taking the talented and explosive quarterback out of Pittsburgh. Choosing a quarterback here probably means that Ballard recognized that the Colts are probably not going to be able to realistically compete with the rest of the AFC, and chooses to prepare for the future while also fielding a competitive team.
#4 Trey McBride, tight end, Colorado State
Trey McBride is by far the best tight end in this Draft, and the Colts are desperately in need of a tight end. Longtime starter Jack Doyle retired, leaving just Mo Allie-Cox, who could never step up and take on a more important role in the offense, and second-year player Kylen Granson who showed some minor flashes as a rookie, to take on the position. McBride would come in and probably start right away, giving Matt Ryan a dangerous weapon at tight end, something that Ryan has certainly enjoyed in the past. Like with Watson, I am tad concerned with the level of opposition McBride played in college, but he posted much more dominant numbers than the NDSU receiver, getting over 1.000 yards on the season, despite only getting two total touchdowns. My biggest knock on McBride is how he was above-average just one of his 3 seasons in college, as .
#5 Tariq Woolen, cornerback, UTSA
Yet another area where the Colts have a glaring hole is at cornerback, especially after trading the #1 guy at the position. Woolen is a long, athletic cornerback that looks taylormade to play in Gus Bradley’s scheme. The issues with Woolen is that he is still raw as he is relatively new to the cornerback position, and the learning curve could be very steep for him, as he might be at least two years away from starting. Given the time to develop slowly, the sky is the limit for Woolen.
#6 Daniel Faalele, offensive tackle, Minnesota
Matt Pryor will most likely be the Colts starting left tackle once the 2022 season starts, which is not bad by any means but one could certainly do better at the position. Faalele is a mountain of a human being standing in at 6’8’’ and 383 pounds, and he has unbelievable untapped potential. The problem with Faalele is how little football he has played throughout his career. Faalele missed the 2020 season after opting out because of COVID and played very little high school football, so he should still be considered a developmental prospect. Sitting for a year behind Pryor with NFL coaching and conditioning would work wonders for the development of Faalele.
#7 Roger McCreary, cornerback, Auburn
McCreary is the opposite of Tariq Woolen in that the Auburn cornerback is not nearly as gifted athletically, but has excellent tape against top tier opposition. He could probably be a day one starter for this defense, and he would most likely be able to do a decent job as a rookie. The ceiling with McCreary is not nearly as high, and his athletic limitations could hurt him, but he is a “safe” pick at a position the Colts are desperately lacking any sort of certainty.
#8 Travis Jones, defensive tackle, Connecticut
Jones might also be considered a bit of a luxury pick, as the Colts already have Grover Stewart entrenched as the starter at the 1-tech position, but other than Stewart the Colts have no other viable options at the position, and you can never have enough bodies on the defensive line. I really like Jones and think he could develop into a really interesting player, but the truth is that a run stopping 1-tech, in a conference where most of the elite teams are pass happy, does not figure to be a very smart pick.
#9 Arnold Ebiketie, edge rusher, Penn State
Ebiketie is a high-floor/low-ceiling type of player in my opinion. His lack of explosiveness and athleticism will probably limit his potential, but the guy is just doing something productive on every single play. Ebiketie is productive both against the run and rushing the passer, though he is more pro-ready as a pass rusher at this point in his career. He would give the Colts some much needed depth at the edge position, and a player versatile enough to play on both sides of the line.
#10 David Ojabo, edge rusher, Michigan
Ojabo was slated to be a top-20 pick before tearing his Achilles preparing for the Draft, which will surely hurt his draft stock. We know that Ballard likes his Michigan edge rushers (Kwity Paye), and he most certainly likes players with torn Achilles. Ojabo is even more raw than Paye was coming out of college, and he most likely will need a year to get his explosiveness back. This is a pick that would most likely have very little impact next season, but could be a big homerun down the stretch if Ojabo manages to recapture that explosiveness while also adjusting to the NFL.