INDIANAPOLIS – For the Colts to trade back into the 3rd round, you know Chris Ballard must have loved the player still sitting there on the board.
With the 96th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Colts took Maryland safety Nick Cross in Round Three.
Here are 3 takeaways on Cross:
Another High-End Athlete Pick
At 6-1 and 212 pounds, Cross ran an impressive 4.34 40-yard dash at the Combine (the fastest of any safety). This is a selection of giving Gus Bradley and the new defensive staff a tall and rangy athlete at the back end of the defense. In starting 21 games over the last 3 seasons, Cross had 134 career tackles, 4.0 sacks, 18 passes defensed, 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. On paper, Cross earning playing time in Indy as a rookie seems a bit steep. He should definitely be a special teamer though, with the ability to compete for some sub package roles.
Long-Term Safety Need
The Colts did do a good amount of safety work in free agency this offseason. Still though, that action didn’t do really anything for this need past the 2022 season. Julian Blackmon is a great player, but he’s now dealt with 2 serious injuries in his last 3 years of football. In 2022, Cross is a player who could/should be a special teamer. With injury questions, to varying degrees, on Blackmon and Khari Willis, their futures in Indy aren’t a slam dunk, as they reach the back half of their rookie contracts. The clearer picture to defensive playing time probably comes a little bit more in future years though. If Gus Bradley has a desire to play some more safeties though, this pick will come in handy.
Giving Up Future Capital
To get a third pick in the 3rd round on Friday, the Colts parted ways with a future 3rd round pick next year, along with a 5th round pick in 2022. This will be where some question such a move. Yes, the Colts have an extra 3rd rounder (which could turn into a 2nd rounder) in 2023 from the Carson Wentz trade. But with that looming long-term QB answer remaining, you always want the extra draft capital to put yourself into a position to make a move. This is one of the more ‘wow’ trade ups in the Chris Ballard drafting era, so that should let you know what they think of Cross.