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Grading the Colts’ 2019 Draft class

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Time and time again it has been proven that grading Drafts as soon as they happen is the most redundant thing there is. It is similar to making mock drafts, sure it is fun, and it gets views on a time where NFL fans are deprived of content, but ultimately everyone is just making educated (or in plenty of cases uneducated) guesses.

This is why I like to wait at least three seasons before sitting down and analyzing a draft class. This is a lesson I learnt the hard way, as I was over the moon when we drafted players like Donte Moncrief, Quincy Wilson, D’Joun Smith (I honestly thought he was going to be a top cornerback in the NFL), and was befuzzled when we drafted Shaq Leonard, E.J. Speed, or Grover Stewart. Some very few picks I got right from the start, but I missed on my analysis plenty more than I hit. That being said, it has now been four full seasons after the Colts’ 2019 Draft class, which featured a ton of players who we can now make a full analysis on.

Colts 2019 draft picks
Colts traded back on Draft Day with the Commanders (then Redskins).

Rock Ya-Sin, cornerback: B +

Ya-Sin’s career started off a bit slow, before an impressive 2021 season where he cemented himself as the starting cornerback for the team. After that, he was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders for pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who was solid last year and is expected to return to the team and continue his career with Gus Bradley. Overall a solid pick and a good player.

Ben Banogu, edge rusher: D -

It seems like every year we heard that “it is Ben Banogu season”, before he just fades into the background not to be seen during the year. Banogu has not registered a sack since his rookie season, and did not start a single game in his four-year tenure as a Colt. He will most likely be looking for a new home this free agency. What makes this pick even worse is that A.J. Brown and Mecole Hardman were drafted right after that.

Parris Campbell, wide receiver: C

Had it not been for this season, this pick would have certainly been an F, but Campbell finally managed to remain healthy and appeared in all 17 games of the season last year. Set to be a free agent, the Colts will probably try to retain Campbell, as he is a nice weapon for Steichen to have at his disposal. He finished last year with 63 receptions for 623 yards and three touchdowns. Much more was expected from him, but he is still only 25 and should improve with the rest of the offense (if he stays).

Bobby Okereke, linebacker: A -

Okereke has established himself as the Colts’ starting linebacker, whether it is alongside Shaq Leonard or whoever plays in The Maniac’s absence. He has started every single game the past two years, racking up almost 300 combined tackles in the process. An excellent pick.

Khari Willis, safety: B

Willis played just three seasons, as he retired early to become a minister. Willis was a team captain and one of the most respected figures inside the locker room, while also giving the Colts a hard-hitting safety. He could have easily been the Colts’ starting safety for the next 5-7 seasons, not Ballard’s fault he decided to retire early.

Marvell Tell III, cornerback: D +

I had high hopes for Tell after the 2019 season, where he appeared on 13 games and seemed to be carving a nice role for himself. He opted out of the 2020 COVID season, and did not play after that but was on the Colts’ practice squad last season.

E.J. Speed, linebacker: A -

A special teams’ ace at first, and now a really solid linebacker rotational piece to have around. Speed struggles in pass coverage, but he is a dominant run defender, who racked up 63 combined tackles on very limited action last season. Hopefully the Colts manage to retain him.

Gerri Green, Jackson Barton, Javon Patterson: -

Barton is the only one of the bunch that has more than one career game played, as he appeared on 6 games for the Las Vegas Raiders last season as a rotational piece. Nothing to write about on these three late round picks.