Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard addressed several big-time needs on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
NFL draft analyst Chad Reuter gave the Colts an A- for the selections of wide receiver Alec Pierce, tight end Jelani Woods, offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann and safety Nick Cross.
In Pierce, the Colts are getting a perfect compliment for third-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. Pierce can immediately step in as the “Z” receiver, and his 4.4 speed at 6’3” can create problems for opposing cornerbacks.
As a senior for Cincinnati, Pierce garnered 884 receiving yards and caught eight touchdowns, averaging 17 yards per catch. While Pierce’s route tree will likely have to be expanded a bit, the Colts will undoubtedly put the rookie in the best position to succeed within their offense.
The Colts were also in need of another tight end after Jack Doyle’s retirement. They’ve found that in the super-athletic Jelani Woods, who excels as a blocker in the running game and can pass protect as well.
Woods can also create a mismatch for opposing defensive backs and linebackers with his 6’7” frame and quickness. Woods’ 4.6 40-time was the second-fastest of any tight end in the draft, and his ability to stretch the field vertically for the Colts will make life much easier for new quarterback Matt Ryan.
Several draft analysts had Central Michigan tackle Bernhard Raimann mocked to the Colts at pick 42. But Indy selected the super athletic tackle with the 77th pick in the third round, which is tremendous value given that some analysts projected Raimann to be a first or second-round pick.
A former tight end, Raimann possesses the athleticism the Colts typically look for in an offensive tackle and given his upside, he could easily earn the starting left tackle spot within the next few seasons. While he’s only started two years at left tackle, Raimann allowed only one sack in each of the last two seasons.
It’s not very often GM Chris Ballard trades future draft selections to move up and select a player. Ballard did that on Friday in trading a third-round selection in next year’s draft to move back into the third round and select Maryland safety Nick Cross with the 96th pick.
Cross has tremendous upside and can be an immediate contributor to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system. At 6’1”, Cross ran a 4.3 40-time and had a very productive season as a junior for Maryland, piling up a combined 66 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions.