According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Indianapolis Colts safety Nick Cross is his pick for the Horseshoe’s ‘one pivotal rookie’ during the 2022 campaign:
Maryland · S
Drafted: Round 3, No. 96 overall
Wide receiver Alec Pierce was the Colts’ first pick in the 2022 draft (53rd overall) and will absolutely factor in this season, but the third-round safety will likely carry the most importance in Year 1. Cross is big, explosive and physical — and he immediately steps into a starting role after the retirement of Khari Willis. Cross provides much-needed coverage speed on the back end.
Selected with the 96th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Cross may have been the Colts’ fourth selection in this year’s highly anticipated rookie class, but he has the chance to make the biggest and most immediate impact this upcoming season.
In the wake of Khari Willis’ somewhat surprising offseason retirement (although Cross’s early selection makes me believe the Colts were very much aware of Willis potentially hanging up the football cleats), the talented rookie safety is firmly in the driver’s seat to start alongside Julian Blackmon at safety for Indianapolis right now.
The former Maryland standout features speed, athleticism, range, and the ability to quickly close/accelerate to the football downhill in the backend of the Colts secondary.
Cross has already made some nice breakups in training camp practices, and he definitely stood out during the Colts preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills last weekend:
The Colts graded Nick Cross with 4-5 “factor plays” in his first dozen snaps Saturday against the Bills. A big encouragement after a tough week of practice for the rookie.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) August 16, 2022
“He was cold-blooded,” Mike Mitchell said.
Highest graded Colts against Buffalo (min. 10 snaps)— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) August 14, 2022
1️⃣ Bobby Okereke: 90.4
2️⃣ Nick Cross: 89.2
3️⃣ Julian Blackmon: 87.5
4️⃣ Dallis Flowers: 86.3
5️⃣ Ben Banogu: 86.1 pic.twitter.com/ptTtEBomyI
There are some other names to certainly watch for in the Colts 2022 rookie draft class: Alec Pierce, Bernhard Raimann, and Jelani Woods also among them. However, the smart money is currently on Cross to make the biggest initial impact as a rookie.