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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Pitt at Louisville

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INDIANAPOLIS The Colts traded up?

Hearing that phrase, especially on Day 1 or Day 2 of the NFL Draft, is pretty rare in the Chris Ballard era.

The 2024 Draft was Ballard’s 8th as the Colts general manager.

His trade up for Pittsburgh offensive lineman Matt Goncalves was just the 4th time he has traded up in the first three rounds of a draft (other players Ballard has traded up for: RB-Jonathan Taylor, DL-Tyquan Lewis, S-Nick Cross).

So, clearly, the Colts had Goncalves targeted for a specific reason.

“He was one of our favorite O-linemen in the draft and that’s including all of them,” Goncalves says.

“We did not want to lose him.”

While Goncalves was certainly a coveted prospect for the Colts, where he will line up at this level remains to be seen.

At Pittsburgh, Goncalves started 13 games at right tackle and 11 left tackle, with hardly any action in the interior. Right tackle is where the Colts placed Goncalves at the start of rookie minicamp over the weekend.

But the Colts are open to many places for the 6-6 and 327-pound Goncalves.

“He’s got a lot of position flexibility,” Ballard says of the team’s 3rd round pick in 2024. “He’s started at left tackle, started at right tackle. We think he can play guard. We’re not so sure he can’t play center. So, excited to get him.

“You can never have enough good linemen. I think he’ll come in and he’ll compete. He’ll compete and put some heat on guys. I think guys get better when there’s great competition. We have some really good players upfront, but he just adds to the group.”

Goncalves’ final season at Pitt ended after just 3 games, due to a season-ending foot injury. More so than many of the Colts draft picks, several draft pundits had Goncalves going later than he did at No. 79 overall. Even Goncalves thought he’d be a 3rd or 4th round pick.

Colts area scout Chad Henry lives in Pittsburgh, so he already had a good idea of the big offensive lineman.

Plus, the Colts had some direct intel from Pitt’s coaching staff with former Panthers assistant Charlie Partridge joining the Indy staff as the defensive line coach earlier this offseason.

“It’s funny because I actually got to see him play at left tackle because their right tackle got hurt the year before when he was the starting right tackle and kicked to left tackle,” Ballard explained. “So, you got to see him play left tackle, so that was good because we go back and watch junior tape, younger tape too. We have a good feel for who he is.

“That was probably one of the most fun calls I’ve had now. He’ll fit in now.”

The expletives were flying from Goncalves on that draft call.

Part of that off-field fire is why Henry labeled Goncalves as “the blueprint” during the draft process, checking all of the Colts important offensive line traits.

Still though, exactly where Goncalves will line up at this level is up in the air, even if the Colts did something rarely seen in the Ballard era.

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