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5 Prospects to Watch for the Colts - Part 3

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Tippmann — Center — Wisconsin

After the disaster season from Ryan Kelly and reports that the Colts might be looking to move on from Kelly, the Colts could/are definitely in the market for a center and Tippman is arguably the best one in the entire draft. He is quick off the line, quick at getting to the 2nd level on blocks and is very good at pulling and finding work. I like Wisconsin’s offense as it’s Pro Style and does a lot of different things with their offensive linemen, so I believe on top of his very good two years as a starter, he has experience in the right system that will ease his transition into the NFL. I’d like to see his balance and his finishing ability improve as he’s often engaged in many stalemates and can be seen on the ground a few too many times for my liking. I expect to see him taken in the late 2nd, early 3rd round so the Colts would potentially have to trade up from the 79th pick to get him or hope he drops a bit later than expected. If he is the third player taken in this draft from the Colts, that would be a win in my opinion.

DJ Turner — Cornerback — Michigan

Turner is primarily an outside cornerback with good all around ability. He can defend against the run well, he has great speed and explosiveness and I like his scheme versatility. Turner tested very well at the combine and is one of the better athletes of the cornerback group, and has good enough size, even though 180 pounds is a little light for NFL standards; he might get bullied by bigger, stronger receivers in press coverage. He could be a very interesting option for the Colts with their 2nd pick of the draft.

Matthew Bergeron — Offensive Tackle — Syracuse

I always have a soft spot for Canadians, especially players from Quebec, but Bergeron is a very good, high ceiling prospect who could thrive on the inside at guard. He might need a year or two to develop, but he could eventually turn into a good long-term starter. The Colts wouldn’t have to use more than their 3rd round pick on him and he might even be taken in the 4th round. While explosive and athletic with great size, his balance and anchoring ability need work; his pad level also needs to be lower and can be pushed back at times. You can tell the instincts aren’t there yet. If not coached properly and surrounded with good talent, I’m not sure he could thrive in the NFL, but with the right situation I think he can take off more than most in this class because the flashes are there.

Jalin Hyatt — Receiver — Tennessee

The Colts haven’t had an serious deep threat receiver since prime TY Hilton days. Hyatt had an incredible season, highlighted by an incredible performance against Alabama where he had 6 catches for 207 and 5 touchdowns! He has serious top end speed, he accelerates so smoothly and his deep routes are very nice. He also tracks the ball well. His inability to run a lot of routes (and run them properly) on top of his skinny frame will probably limit his potential to a high end deep threat WR2, but that’s exactly what the Colts need at receiver to compliment Pittman and Pierce. He will almost certainly be there for the Colts’ 2nd round pick, but could also be available when the Colts pick in the 3rd round.

Anthony Richardson — Quarterback — Florida

Richardson is built like a tank, but he’s faster than one. His measurables and athleticism are off the charts good and he has an extremely strong arm that can stretch the field and make all the throws. The flashes are definitely there, but there are also inconsistencies. His ball placement is all over the place, he’ll either make a perfect throw or sometimes miss wide open receivers. His footwork and drops need to be cleaned up as he has the ‘‘happy feet’’ syndrome that can affect his weight transfer at times too. His decision making is also weak, he’ll launch passes into triple coverage down the field and doesn’t go through his progressions well (especially his 2nd and 3rd reads). On the other hand, I find he has very good pocket awareness and doesn’t just look to take off and run at the first sign of pressure; this is important and shows that the willingness to pass is there.

To me, what this all tells me is that Richardson has all the raw tools of a star quarterback in the NFL: the arm, the size, the athleticism are all A+, but as we’ve come to see many times over the years, it’s what between the ears and your ball placement that matter more than anything. Those can both be fixed with good coaching.

In my opinion, Richardson is not ready to play Day 1. The decision making is not there and the accuracy isn’t good enough to get away with some poor decisions; I believe that if he played right away, he would be forced to scramble a lot since his decision making is below average when it comes to making his 2nd or 3rd reads and my guess is that if his first read is taken away, the second there’s any pressure, he’s going to run. The Colts will need a year with him to fix his mechanics initially, but then work on his processing and reading. Oftentimes and I’ve seen it personally with many quarterbacks, inaccuracy issues stem from two areas: poor shoulder/upper body alignment and improper footwork (not driving properly, not stepping out towards the target, etc); I believe Richardson has a bit of both.

If he’s there at 4, it’s worth a shot, considering the limited amount of options available, but expectations need to be tempered since he is far from being a mature football player and that can only be fixed with good coaching, time and learning. What will be important and what can’t be scouted are his intangibles, such as his willingness to learn and his drive/motivations. If he checks the boxes in that regard, couple that with a smart coaching staff which I believe the Colts have, his future can be very bright and he has top 10 NFL quarterback potential.

The Carolina Panthers went to the Super Bowl with Cam Newton, who is similar to Richardson in many ways; Newton’s career had some tremendous highs such as an MVP win and a Super Bowl appearance, but also had some weak lows and his career fizzled within 10 years, mostly due to the fact that his mechanics (especially his upper body mechanics) were never fixed and there was no real improvement in his decision making. He got away with his running ability, having some good receivers over the years and his big arm, but that doesn’t last. If the Colts don’t fully believe that Richardson could be the long-term answer, then it’s not worth picking him, but if they are wiling to put a tremendous amount of time and resources into him, then it’s worth the try because the potential is fantastic.