INDIANAPOLIS – Compared to last year, the Colts need more out of their rookie class this season.
The Colts spent 4 picks on their offense, and 4 on their defensive selections in 2022, with those offensive guys in line for more chances to play.
Based off a 1-to-10 scale (1 being lucky to make the roster, 10 being a definite full-time starter), let’s project the playing time for the Colts 2022 draft class:
- WR-Alec Pierce (7-8): Similar to Michael Pittman in 2020, the Colts really need some early impact from Alec Pierce. Now, unlike Pittman coming out of college, Pierce wasn’t quite as accomplished as the USC product. Still, Pierce delivered in several big games and shouldn’t have much of an adjustment from a body type/speed standpoint. By no means am I saying Pierce is headed for an 800-yard season (past history for the Colts would say more in the 300-400-yard range). But he’s going to get plenty of chances to impact early.
- TE-Jelani Woods (5-6): Woods might not ‘start’ a lot of games, but he should be a frequent option in the tight end rotation. Jack Doyle’s retirement has opened up a good amount of playing time. Yes, Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson will eat up some of that in their growing roles, but Woods is going to help as well. Woods really only played 1 full season as a tight end in college. His frame (6-7, 253) though will allow him to transition early.
- OT-Bernhard Raimann (6-7): This is the selection that probably has the most volatility for playing time among the rookie class. Raimann will get a chance to compete with Matt Pryor for the left tackle job (and potentially right guard with Danny Pinter). If Raimann can’t supplant a veteran, he’s the 6th offensive lineman. If he does win a job though, he could be on his way to starting every single game. And we know how you are just one injury away on the offensive line from being needed.
- S-Nick Cross (3-4): On paper, it’s hard to see where Cross earns consistent playing time as a rookie. What makes you think that he could play a lot is when you look at what the Colts gave up to trade for him. If healthy, Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis should remain as starters. And you still have Rodney McLeod with more than 120 career starts at safety. It’ll be interesting to see what Gus Bradley sees in Cross this season.
- DL-Eric Johnson (2-3): A rotational role, primarily on run downs, is where Johnson should hope to make an impact. DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart don’t come off the field often. Plus, the Colts have other interior pass rush options in Dayo Odeyingbo and Tyquan Lewis to go along with Buckner. But the Colts harp on depth along the defensive line, so there is a game day role available to a guy like Johnson.
- TE-Drew Ogletree (1-2): While the Colts are very intrigued about Ogletree, he walks into a position that might already have the 53-man roster limit set. Teams keeping more than 3 tight ends on a 53-man roster isn’t a lock. And the Colts have 3 in Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson and Jelani Woods. So Ogletree is really going to have to flash, especially on special teams to earn a 53-man roster spot.
- DT-Curtis Brooks (3-4): As we mentioned above, the Colts do have several interior pass rushing options in 2022. But Brooks is an interesting guy to watch. Brooks had 7.5 sacks as a senior and Luke Fickell calls him the ‘MVP’ of Cincinnati’s stellar defense from last year. If Brooks can show some pressure ability at this level, he’s going to earn some rotational snaps.
- CB-Rodney Thomas (2-3): Unlike Ogletree, Thomas walks into a much more attractive situation for a Day 3 pick. The Colts don’t have a lot of definites at the depth cornerback spots. Some other things that should help Thomas in potentially making the team/playing some is his defensive background (he’s played linebacker and safety, too) and his knowledge base (playing in the Ivy League at Yale).