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If you’re still hoping for Indianapolis Colts General Manager Chris Ballard to make a splash in free agency, I’ve got oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.
As we move deeper into the month of April, attention fully shifts to the 2021 NFL Draft for Ballard and the Colts. Knowing that, the upcoming draft is a big one for Ballard. The veteran GM has just six picks to work with and has a couple of holes to fill.
The retirement and subsequent hole left behind of bookend left tackle Anthony Castonzo has not adequately been filled, even with the Colts signing veteran tackles Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport.
Standout pass rusher Justin Houston has not been re-signed to date, and the loss of a guy like Denico Autry has not been addressed. Sure, Al-Quadin Muhammad was retained on the cheap, and veteran pass rusher Stitched Jalen Morton Jersey, Isaac Rochell was signed away from the Chargers, but there still isn’t a dominant pass rusher on the roster at the moment.
There’s work to be done in the draft for Ballard and the Colts. For the franchise to have the best outlook possible coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft, Ballard and the Colts will need to come away with these three things in late April and early May.
Potential Franchise Left Tackle
Sure, Tevi and/or Davenport could hold down the starting job at left tackle at an adequate level in 2021 if called upon, but Ballard shouldn’t be searching for adequate play at arguably the second-most important position on offense, Navy Jalen Morton Jersey, especially after trading for franchise QB Carson Wentz.
Ballard and Head Coach Frank Reich have made the rounds as of late taking a look at a number of the top left tackles in the draft class.
Depending on how the first round shakes out on April 29, Ballard and the Colts could grab a guy like Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, or Oklahoma State’s Tevin Jenkins at 21 overall, putting impressive athletes with mean streaks next to Quenton Nelson.
Should tackle not be the move at 21 overall, the Colts are in great position to grab a guy like Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg at No. 54 overall on Day 2, or maybe even a guy like Texas’ Samuel Cosmi.
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I’m keeping my eyes on BYU tackle Brady Christensen as well. He’s a high-level run blocker and did very well pass protecting for a mobile QB. He tested off the charts too for the position.
Make no mistake: Ballard and the Colts will undoubtedly come away with a potential franchise left tackle in the first two rounds of the draft.
Three-down EDGE Defender
In the past, the Colts have had some impressive athletes at defensive end that have come in on obvious passing downs, spelling guys who are better run defenders.
With guys like Muhammad, Rochell, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu in the fold, the Colts need to find a three-down Edge defender that can stay on the field in all situations.
Throughout the draft process the Colts have been connected to guys like Michigan’s Kwity Paye, Miami’s Jaelan Phillips, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, and Miami’s Gregory Rousseau.
All four of those names would require a selection at 21 overall.
Should the Colts decide to go in a different direction in the first round, Edge defenders such as Houston’s Payton Turner, UAB’s Jordan Smith, Texas’ Joseph Ossai, and Washington’s Joe Tryon could be names to watch at 54 overall.
No matter what, the Colts have to come away with a three-down pass rusher that can take over the starting role relatively quickly, especially if Houston is not retained.
This is not a knock on Jacob Eason at all, Eason stans. He’ll slot into the backup QB role, and we should be able to see more of him in the preseason.
Behind Eason though, the Colts don’t have anyone, considering Eason was the No. 3 last year, and former backup Jacoby Brissett signed with the Miami Dolphins in March.
Fortunately for the Colts, names such as Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman, Stanford’s Davis Mills, Arkansas’ Felipe Franks and Mississippi State’s KJ Costello all make sense late on Day 2 or in the middle of Day 3.
Jalen Morton is on the roster at the moment, but counting no him to be the No. 3 in a year in which you’re breaking in a new starting QB and rolling with an inexperienced backup is playing with fire.
Ballard and Reich should be looking at a QB in this class in hopes of strengthening the depth at the most important position in all of sports.