INDIANAPOLIS – One of the most analyzed drafts in recent Colts history was capped on Saturday with Chris Ballard making a few more moves to select 9 total players.
Round 2: WR-Michael Pittman (USC)
Round 2: RB-Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
Round 3: S-Julian Blackmon (Utah)
Round 4: QB-Jacob Eason (Washington)
Round 5: OG/C-Danny Pinter (Ball State)
Round 6: DT-Robert Windsor (Penn State)
Round 6: CB-Isaiah Rodgers (UMass)
Round 6: WR-Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)
Round 6: LB-Jordan Glasgow (Michigan)
With Ballard’s 4th draft complete, here are 10 takeaways from the Colts 2020 Draft:
Two Immediate Day 1 Impacts
At pick No. 34 (Michael Pittman) and No. 41 (Jonathan Taylor), the Colts selected two of the most Day 1 ready players in the entire 2020 Draft.
It should be no surprise if in the fourth quarter of Week 1, Pittman and Taylor and touching the football at big-time moments.
Outside of Justin Jefferson at LSU, you won’t find another Power 5 conference wideout who put up the numbers that Pittman did last year (and Pittman did it while catching balls from 3 different QBs, including a true freshman). Pittman caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019.
Taylor’s consistent production over his 3 seasons at Wisconsin is one of the greatest runs in college football history.
The Colts needed a jolt at the skill group. There’s little doubt these two guys should help that, and do it early on.
Smartly Taking A Chance At Quarterback
Do not listen to people who use the phrase ‘wasted pick’ when describing the Colts selection of a quarterback in 2020.
Nope, that’s not true when you are talking about a team with zero viable long-term options at the most important position in sports, and one that ends up using a 4th round pick on a talent that some thought could have gone much earlier.
The Colts are now like the vast majority of the NFL (debating QB decisions and potential kicking competitions).
That means you take some chances at quarterback and believe in a premier coaching staff at the QB position.
Still Worrying About Offensive Line Depth
Exiting the 2020 Draft, an uneasy feeling remains about the offensive line depth.
Chris Ballard says there’s still time to take care of that need, but the quality addition part of the offseason has largely come and gone.
While 5th round pick Danny Pinter (Ball State) is a tremendous athlete with pristine character, it sounds like he’s more of an interior option in the NFL.
So, is Le’Raven Clark, who didn’t play one snap in the league last year, still your top offensive tackle reserve?
Offensive line health and a high level of play up front means even more with Philip Rivers under center, and an injury or two to the starting lineup could expose some things.
Long-Term Skill Focus
In the weeks leading up to the draft, we stressed the need for this to be more of an offensive heavy focus, especially early on.
The defense, understandably, had received a whole lot of draft attention in previous years.
Well, 4 of the first 5 picks for the Colts in 2020 came on offense.
This draft has brought the Colts some longer-term offensive skill players that can allow for more of a passing of the torch feel (i.e. T.Y. Hilton to Michael Pittman, Marlon Mack to Jonathan Taylor).
Tight end was a position the Colts had some interest in during the draft, but didn’t make a move there. The long-term outlook at that group still could use some attention.
Planning For Matchup Driven League
Look at the first three picks of the Colts in 2020: WR-Michael Pittman, RB-Jonathan Taylor, S-Julian Blackmon.
These are guys the Colts feel can fill multiple roles, and thrive in a matchup driven league.
Pittman is the big-body wideout who the Colts think can win at three levels, while being a key winner in 50/50 opportunities.
Taylor is the explosive runner who can hit the home run at 226 pounds. His presence in the backfield should help open up a play-action passing game that hasn’t had enough recent success.
And Blackmon is a 3-year starter (2 at cornerback, 1 at safety) for one of college football’s best defenses. The Colts see Blackmon as a guy who can play on all three downs with his ability as a solid tackler, a man cover option against tight ends and even roam in zone.
No 2021 Draft Capital Added
Seeing Chris Ballard execute 4 draft-day trades (1 up, 2 down, 1 with Quincy Wilson) was no shock.But it was surprising to see none of those trades lead to an extra pick or two for the 2021 Draft.
As it sits right now, the Colts have their normal 7 picks for 2021, with no compensatory picks of substance expected, and the hope that they will be drafting much later than they did in 2020.
The thought was another pick or two in 2021 would help this team next April if there’s a need/want to move up for a definite franchise quarterback.
We know Ballard loves picks, but it’s not like 4 selections in the 6th round was needed because of poor roster depth. This roster has improved greatly in depth, so trade backs for future picks, instead of guys who might not make the team, would have made sense.
Poor Marlon Mack
Parents, tell your kids not to play running back.
Look at Marlon Mack’s 3-year ascent in the NFL: 14 games/358 yards/3 touchdowns, 12 games/908 yards/9 touchdowns, 14 games/1,091 yards/8 touchdowns. And, the Colts are 1-7 in games Mack has missed, losing 7 in a row.
Yet, the Colts still felt the need to go against some people’s draft philosophy and take a running back in the top half of the second round.
If Mack had achieved that production/trajectory at virtually any other NFL position, the Colts wouldn’t feel the need to ‘draft over’ him. But he plays running back, so now Mack is likely headed for a contract season in 2020, with a far less need for the Colts to re-sign him next March.
Don’t Forget About Special Teams
Yes, the need for a quartet of 6th round picks was very Chris Ballard, but the final pick of 2020 could be the most likely of all the 6th rounders to make the team.
Michigan’s Jordan Glasgow is known for his special teams presence. Ballard said he thinks the undersized Glasgow, who will play linebacker, can fill that role at the NFL level.
In Glasgow (the 213rd overall pick) and CB-Isaiah Rodgers (211th overall pick), the Colts took two guys who have special teams written all over the resume.
We could see some roster turnover at linebacker and cornerback with these selections.
More Entertaining Colts
Honestly, the Colts became a pretty boring product last season.
The offense was tough to watch at times and the team scored more than 20 points just three times in the final 8 games (2-6 record).
Fans in this market aren’t used to that.
Choices of Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor bring different body types/talents to the offensive weaponry, which should lend to a more explosive offense.
That’s good news for Philip Rivers, and will be more fun for fans to watch.
Another Early 2017 Draft Bust
It does need to be noted that the final day of the 2020 Draft officially marked the end to Quincy Wilson’s tenure with the Colts.
Without question, Chris Ballard has been a successful drafter of talent in his time with the Colts.
But the first four picks in 2017 were a massive swing and a miss.
Wilson (2nd round), Tarell Basham (3rd round) and Zach Banner (4th round) all didn’t come close to reaching Training Camp on the final year of their rookie contracts. The return on those three players? The 211th overall pick for Wilson being traded. And we still have questions about Malik Hooker’s long-term outlook in Indy. Good thing Marlon Mack (4th round) and Anthony Walker (5th round) saved this class a bit.
Yes, Chuck Pagano was still the coach in 2017, but Ballard had to know that he was the one staying in Indy for years to come, not Pagano.
When you put as much pressure on drafts as Ballard does/did early on and suffer some misses, you are really needing to make up for them. And the Colts had to do that with the amount of corners, defensive ends and offensive linemen we saw taken in 2018 and 2019.
Thankfully, Ballard responded from the 2017 Draft with an absolute home run in 2018, and some intriguing pieces in 2019.