INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s pair some draft prospects to what the Colts could be looking f0r at their most important positions of need.
The Colts enter this week’s draft with 7 selections: two picks in Round 5, and one each in Rounds 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.
Considering the Colts aren’t drafting until No. 42 overall on Friday night, the names you will see below are projected to be more in that post-Round 1 range.
Given Chris Ballard’s draft history over the last 5 years, here are 3 names to watch at the top positions of need:
-Skyy Moore (Western Michigan): Top-end speed and reliable hands are two things that don’t often go together. But Moore offers that. At 5-9 and 195 pounds, Moore has size limitations, but he would seem to be a nice complement to Michael Pittman. The hope here is Moore could be the slot receiver Parris Campbell was thought to be back in 2019.
-Alec Pierce (Cincinnati): At 6-3 and 211 pounds, Pierce brings great size and also some impressive speed numbers. Pierce was Desmond Ridder’s top target at Cincinnati and you saw why the QB had so much trust in throwing to a wideout who routinely high-pointed the football and came down with contested catches. Pierce actually began his college career as a linebacker, even playing some gunner on special teams, so you know he brings toughness to a position that doesn’t always seek that out.
-Christian Watson (North Dakota State): If Chris Ballard is a man of his word on wanting high-end traits, Watson fits exactly that. Watson stands 6-4, weighs 208 pounds and ran 4.36 in the 40 at the Combine. That’s an ideal package when creating a wideout. While Watson did showcase some big play ability at the FCS level (as a kick returner, too), his hands are a concern. Watson was a Senior Bowl participant.
–Greg Dulcich (UCLA): It’s rare to see a tight end with the down-field production like Dulcich produced at UCLA. He averaged 17.6 yards on his 77 career catches, which is a massive number. If the Colts are thinking receiver traits more than blocking traits with the need at tight end, then Dulcich would be a terrific fit.
-Jeremy Ruckert (Ohio State): This fit isn’t as much in the testing numbers but more of how Ruckert is wired about the game of football. You sense some Jack Doyle in how Ruckert carries himself. You wouldn’t have to worry about the professionalism of Ruckert and he could bring a reliable presence to a position that has a little bit of uncertainty around him. Ruckert, who wasn’t needed to be a top target at Ohio State, is known for his dependable hands.
-Jelani Woods (Virginia): We dive back into the eye-popping frame and athletic makeup with Woods. At 6-7 and 253 pounds, Woods would look good in an Indiana Pacers uniform. He ran a very strong 4.61 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Initially a quarterback entering Oklahoma State, Woods transitioned to tight end and finally broke out last year after transferring to Virginia. From a size standpoint, Woods would be a nice complement to Kylen Granson, if the Colts want to explore diversifying their tight end room.
-Tyler Smith (Tulsa, drafted by Cowboys): A three-year (23 games) starter at left tackle, Smith brings specific experience at a major position of need for the Colts. Smith just recently turned 21 years old, which will make him even more attractive to NFL teams. There’s certainly development needed with Smith, but he would bring a nice piece of clay to try and mold.
-Abraham Lucas (Washington State): Scouts will love the height (6-6) and wingspan of Lucas. He started 42 consecutive games, all at right tackle. There will be questions about Lucas transitioning from such a pass-happy offense to more of a pro-style system. But if a team thinks they can grow his run blocking, he could hear his name called in Round 2.
-Braxton Jones (Southern Utah): Jones is more of a reach and might not go until Round 4. But he’s got great length and athleticism at the offensive tackle position. With 29 career starts at left tackle, Jones has ample experience at a desired position. Granted, that came at the FCS level.
-Kaiir Elam (Florida, drafted by Bills): Anytime you start for 3 years in the SEC it’s notable. At 6-1 and running a 4.39 40-yard dash, Elam has some outside corner traits that the Colts should be seeking out. Elam was praised for how he carried himself at Florida and is the son of a NFL-er. If the Colts are going with more of a press-man change moving forward, Elam is a guy to watch.
-Roger McCreary (Auburn): One thing that Chris Ballard really looks for in defensive backs is a high-level of ball production. Well, McCreary had 37 passes defensed in his final three years at Auburn (23 starts). McCreary isn’t going to check the length component at corner (5-11) and his speed is pretty meh (4.50), but he can find the ball unlike a whole lot of corners.
-Tariq Woolen (UTSA): The Colts have shown interest in Woolen with an extremely rare height of 6-4 at the cornerback position. You couple that with 4.26 40-yard dash and this is a created player size/speed guy for CB. Yes, technique needs to be cleaned up and there will be a step up in competition for Woolen. But you can’t teach a lot of what Woolen brings, and learning under Stephon Gilmore would be ideal.
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