INDIANAPOLIS – Inevitably, there are those who benefitted and those who didn’t from the NFL Draft.
That’s especially true when you see a team make a couple of trade, and select four players in the first three rounds.
Who are the Colts’ winners and losers following the 2022 NFL Draft?
-Matt Ryan: Unlike free agency, the draft offered some support to the new Colts quarterback. WR-Alec Pierce should bring some immediate help to a non-descript wide receiver room. TE-Jelani Woods and OT-Bernhard Raimann could also be playing important, to very important, roles as first-year players. Expecting definite rookie impact from all three of these guys is a bit fantasy land. But at least the Colts have tried to address their missing areas of support for Ryan.
-Jonathan Taylor: Similar to Ryan, I’d slot Jonathan Taylor in the ‘winner’ category. The offensive line has added another piece, although the depth in the trenches remains to be seen. The addition of Alec Pierce, given his speed and big play ability down the field, should aid Taylor. Let’s say Pierce can make an early impression with those chunks. What will that do to a safety thinking about moving down into the box because of Taylor?
-Rodrigo Blankenship: Unlike quarterbacks in this year’s draft, teams did not shy away from spending some notable draft capital on the kicking/punting positions. The Colts did not though, and don’t appear to have a kicker in their undrafted class. That’s terrific news for Rodrigo Blankenship. The Colts did not re-sign Michael Badgley in free agency (he’s still on the open market). Jake Verity, an undrafted kicker from last year, is on the Colts roster as the only other kicker right now. It’s still May, but things are looking good for Hot Rod re-gaining his kicking job.
-Brandon Facyson/Isaiah Rodgers: The one position that many had high up on the need list entering the draft, yet didn’t receive notable attention was cornerback. The Colts didn’t draft a corner until the 7th round. That’s great news for free agent addition Brandon Facyson (playing on a one-year deal) and third-year pro Isaiah Rodgers. Kenny Moore is going to play a lot. The hope is Stephon Gilmore will re-gain full health, and also play a lot. But no cornerback draft pick of substance means the Colts are banking on large roles for Facyson and/or Rodgers.
-Khari Willis (Julian Blackmon?): For me, it’s pretty easy to find a player that could have seen an altering to his future with a draft pick. That’s Khari Willis. First, the staff loves Willis and everything he stands for. But the reality is he’s battled some injuries, is entering a contract year and just saw Chris Ballard give up a future 3rd round pick to select 20-year-old Nick Cross. It’s hard to see Willis and/or Julian Blackmon (a free agent in 2024) both getting a second contract in Indy. Remember, Blackmon has had two serious injuries in his last three years of football. Obviously, things could change at safety, but that’s how things look right now following the draft.
-Matt Pryor: Given the need at left tackle entering the draft, Matt Pryor was a likely ‘loser’ entering the draft. Pryor dodged the first two picks, but eventually saw some impact with the Colts taking Bernhard Raimann at pick No. 77. With Pryor having just two career starts at left tackle, it is no surprise the Colts added some competition in the draft. Pryor and Raimann should battle for the left tackle job. If Pryor loses it, he could still be an option at right guard, or be a valuable 6th offensive lineman.
-Kylen Granson: Personally, I don’t think Kylen Granson was as big of a ‘loser’ as others believe he was in the draft. Yes, the Colts did draft two tight ends, which is something they hadn’t done in a decade. But you have to remember Granson is still the most unique tight end body type out of Mo Alie-Cox, Jelani Woods, Drew Ogletree. The Colts see Granson as a guy they can line up out wide and draw up some mismatches in a hybrid role. Having said that, Granson does have some physical limitations compared to the other giants in the tight end room. That could impact how often he’s on the field, particularly when the Colts want to run it.