According to Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on ‘The Colin Cowherd Podcast’, his team narrowly pulled of a draft weekend trade (hopefully, considered one day a heist) for coveted Maryland safety Nick Cross (Pick #96 by the Colts, after a trade up)—who was almost ‘gone in sixty seconds’, if not for some last minute heroics:
“So, I’ll give our (scouting, personnel, and analytics) staff a lot of credit,” Ballard said. “We really liked (Nick) Cross from Maryland who we took, and we ended up moving up in the third (round), we’re giving up a fifth (round pick) and a third next year to get Cross.”
“Colin, that happened (so fast), there was a minute left on the clock with Denver, and I just kept telling them, ‘Just keep calling. Just keep calling. Somebody will do it.’ And finally there was a minute on the clock, and Kevin (Rogers) yelled, ‘Hey, I got Denver, they’ll do the deal.’ And I mean, it (happened so fast), then you have to call the league, both teams have to call the league within a minute and get the kid (Cross) on the phone to make sure he’s around.”
“That was probably one of the funnest moments of the weekend for us because we didn’t expect we were going to get him. We’d already taken three really good players that we liked and then to get Cross at the end, that was kind of the ‘cherry on top’ for us.”
It was a short snapshot of how rapidly things can move in an NFL Draft room on a pick-to-pick basis, where each second can be precious for a franchise’s fortunes and future.
As it stands—and in what was truly a finish line ending for the books, the Colts landed Cross, the 6’0”, 212 pound junior Terrapins safety (with 31 1/2” arms), who 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.
Featuring a 4.34 forty time and a 37 inch vertical, Cross is incredibly athletic with a Relative Athletic Score [RAS] of 9.87 out of a maximum of 10.0—fitting in quite well with the rest of the Colts’ highly athletic draft class collectively.
With his exceptional range, ability to fly to the football and accelerate downhill—while delivering punishment to the opposing ball carrier in the process, he should be similar to current Colts safety Julian Blackmon in that regard—with at least some shades of the legendary Bob Sanders (but I won’t get too carried away for now).
However, it’s somewhat scary to think of how close Cross was to not becoming a member of the Indianapolis Colts at all this past draft weekend. It was a matter of sheer seconds.