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NFL Combine

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INDIANAPOLISA 37th NFL Combine has come and gone from the city of Indianapolis.

The past week in Indianapolis brought our first somewhat newsy Colts week of the offseason.

Here are 10 Colts related items from last week’s Combine.

1. Michael Pittman Jr. Decision

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

Michael Pittman Jr. is going to be a member of the Colts in 2024.

How that looks though remains to be seen, with an answer nearing though.

Franchise tag? Long-term deal?

Tuesday brings the franchise tag deadline day, so if the Colts don’t use that on MPJ, that leaves them 8 days until the start of free agency to get a long-term deal done.

If for some reason that doesn’t happen, MPJ would be a free agent.

Again, Ballard made it clear No. 11 will be back with the Colts, but how that exactly looks remains to be seen.

2. Colts Love Wideout Draft Depth

Texas A&M v LSU Source:Getty

One definite Chris Ballard answer we got on this 2024 Draft is he loves the wide receiver draft depth in 2024.

Ballard compared the group to the 2020 Class which included CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr.

Specifically, Ballard mentioned a desire to add some “yards after catch” ability to the skill group moving forward.

Is that where the 2024 wideout draft depth will come into play?

How Ballard decides to tap into that depth will be interesting come draft time.

3. Edge Rushing Fit

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Middle Tennessee at Alabama Source:Getty

When you listen to Chris Ballard, he does not seem antsy about drafting an edge rusher at No. 15 overall.

But a couple of interesting prospects could still be on the board when the Colts get on the clock in Round 1.

Dallas Turner (Alabama), who is listed as a linebacker, has an eye popping wingspan, which is something the Colts covet in evaluating pass rushers.

Jared Verse (Florida State) dazzled at the Combine with a speed and power combo that has to have teams highly interested.

If one of these two are on the board at No. 15, could the Colts be inclined to take one?

4. TE Need?

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Source:Getty

Entering the Combine, a question for Chris Ballard was what he thought of the Colts tight end position.

“I think their skillsets are kind of different,” the GM began. “Do we have an elite tight end like a (Travis) Kelce? No. But what we have is a good room, with some pretty good players that all have a different skillset from Mo Alie-Cox to what (Kylen) Granson brings. We thought (Will) Mallory offered something different. Not having Jelani Woods, who we had big hopes for with him being hurt all year, this new staff doesn’t even know who he is. They haven’t had a chance to really work with him. And we think he has some upside. We do like the room. We like what it has to offer. They’re all a little different. The hardest guy to find is the blocker. I know we all pay attention to the ‘F’ and you all want the dynamic playmaker but the hardest guy to find is the guy that can block on the edge.”

When you hear that, does it sound like tight end is a major need for Ballard this offseason?

Would Brock Bowers being there at No. 15 change Ballard’s mind a bit?

Again, I don’t think Ballard views tight end as needing a big off-season resource into it.

5. Local Running Back Speed

NFL Combine Source:Getty

It’s not often the Combine produces a ton of local flavor, but this year had some of that at a specific spot.

Isaac Guerendo (Avon) and Tyrone Tracy Jr. (Decatur Central) ran two of the fastest 40-yard dash times among the running backs.

Guerendo began his college career at Wisconsin before transferring to Louisville. Tracy started at Iowa before transferring to Purdue.

Might the Colts be looking for a Jonathan Taylor complement on Day 3 of the draft and opt for some running back speed?

6. Backup QB Plan

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Source:Getty

If Gardner Minshew finds what he is seeking (playing time) elsewhere this offseason, the Colts are going to have to find a new backup quarterback.

According to Chris Ballard, the Colts finding a backup QB that stylistically matches up with Anthony Richardson is not a huge priority though.

Some have wondered if the Colts should explore this to help ease a potential situation arising of missing Richardson for some game action.

Ballard though stressed you simply want a backup QB you feel confident you can win with, pushing the playing style desire to the back burner.

7. Overall Draft Depth

Ohio State v Michigan Source:Getty

An annual Combine takeaway comes from where the draft depth lies in a given year.

How is 2024 shaping up?

Strengths: Wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback

Weaknesses: Tight end, running back

What’s the trickledown effect of this for the Colts?

Tapping into a wide receiver makes sense. Would an offensive tackle in the middle-ish rounds (thinking life post Braden Smith) be an avenue to explore? Cornerback needs an upgrade, but would free agency be the better path there?

Does a lack of tight ends mean the value of Brock Bowers in Round 1 is there even more?

8. Specific Pass Catcher

Western Kentucky v Hawaii Source:Getty

For me, the Colts need at pass catcher this offseason should be seeking out a specific trait—a strength in making plays post catch.

That question I tossed to various draft pundits through the week.

Some of the names from those elusive yards after catch guys shared included: WR-Malachi Corely (Western Kentucky), WR-Ladd McCloskey (Georgia), TE-Tanner McLachlan (Arizona).

Again, supporting Anthony Richardson is paramount in the coming offseasons.

Specifically, though, diversifying that pass catcher room is important, too, and that’s why I’ve narrowed the need to this ingredient.

And Chris Ballard also seems to agree with this sentiment.

9. Cheer For Quarterbacks

Ohio State v Michigan Source:Getty

Unlike last year in the draft, the Colts will be cheering for QBs to go before them in Round 1.

A trio of quarterbacks going in the first three or four picks seems like a lock.

Many see the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 as a quarterback option team, especially after this Raheem Morris quote at the Combine.

“If we had better QB play last year, I probably wouldn’t be here standing at this podium,” the new Falcons head coach said.

That’s good news for the Colts drafting at 15, and wanting as many quarterbacks to go early, thus pushing other positions/players down the board.

And seeing that quote is also a sour reminder of how utterly disappointing that Christmas Eve 29-10 loss was to the Falcons late last year.

10. Big 4 Returning?

Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers Source:Getty

The Colts have 4 very notable in-house free agents this offseason—Michael Pittman Jr, Kenny Moore, Grover Stewart and Julian Blackmon.

Based off what Chris Ballard has said, it would be a surprise if MPJ and Moore don’t return.

What about the other two though?

The Colts know Stewart and Blackmon bring important value to their team, but will those guys find heftier pay days elsewhere in free agency.

This is something to watch as we are just one week away from free agency starting.

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