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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Missouri at Kansas State

Source: Icon Sportswire / Getty

INDIANAPOLISThe Colts biggest position of need dominated the defensive storyline for this draft.

Along with 3 cornerback picks, the Colts added several top-end athletes on the defensive side of the ball.

Here’s a capsule look at the Colts six picks on defense in 2023:

1. Round 2, Pick 44: Kansas State Cornerback Julius (JuJu) Brents (6-3, 198)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Missouri at Kansas State Source:Getty

             -2022 Stats: 14 games played (14 starts). Had 45 tackles (28 solo), 3.5 for loss. 8 passes defensed, 4 interceptions.

            -Career Stats: 46 games played (32 starts). Had 111 tackles (78 solo), 6.5 for loss. 16 passes defensed, 6 interceptions, 1 forced fumbles.

            -Interesting Fact: Brents went to Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, with his favorite playing growing up being Bob Sanders.

            -Brents’ Quote to Note: “It’s crazy. You couldn’t write a better story than this. First and foremost man, just give my thanks to God. I feel like this is nothing but him, just being able to have this opportunity to play in my hometown. Being a Colts fan my whole life, growing up watching. Peyton Manning was my favorite player growing up with Bob Sanders. Now, just being able to put on that same Horseshoe man, it’s nothing short of a blessing. It’s crazy, but I know this is just the start of the journey. I’m just ready to get to work man. I feel like a lot of people kind of wrote me off and then the past year at Kansas State, I just wanted to show that I am who I say I am. Now I’m just looking forward to going out there and being able to fully compete man and be the full competitor that I am. I just want to win. I want to bring that winning mentality to the Colts organization and bring us back that Super Bowl.”

            -Chris Ballard’s Thoughts: “There are not a lot of guys 6-3 playing corner in the league, but he is a really good athlete. He’s a really good fit for what we want to do because he’s a press corner. We do want to play a little more press coverage. We think he’s going to be really good at it. He’s got some unique traits. He’s a really good athlete and for a tall kid he can really change direction. We’re excited about it. We think he’s a really good fit for the defense.”

            -Outlook: Cornerback was a major position of need entering this draft and the Colts have found a long, long local product to compete for a Day 1 starting job. Brents had an eye-popping Combine from a wingspan, short-area quickness and jumping standpoint. This combo of frame/testing numbers is what Gus Bradley covets at the cornerback position. At 6-3 and 198 pounds, Brents will enter a depth chart lacking any sharpie-d in options as an outside cornerback. Something to note on Brents, a wrist injury most recently will likely sideline him until training camp. In past years, the Colts have typically found a veteran cornerback in free agency, but that hasn’t been the case this offseason, hence the need for draft attention here. Brents could/should challenge for early playing time as an outside cornerback, with Stephon Gilmore no longer here.

2. Round 4, Pick 110: Northwestern Defensive Lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore (6-2, 282)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Northwestern at Maryland Source:Getty

             -2022 Stats: 12 games played (12 starts). Had 38 tackles (27 solo), 9.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

            -Career Stats: 41 games played (33 starts). Had 97 tackles (68 solo), 24.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.


            -Interesting Fact: At 282 pounds, Adebawore ran a faster 40-yard dash (4.49) than fellow drafted cornerback JuJu Brents (4.50).


             -Adebawore’s Quote to Note: “I knew teams obviously have film on me as a defensive end and a defensive tackle. It’s kind of evident that teams were seeing me more inside at the Senior Bowl because I played a lot inside and I think teams kind of saw me in this league, as a 3-technique.”

            -Ballard’s Quote to Note: “We’re going to play him at the 3-technique and that’s where he played at the Senior Bowl and we think that’s going to be his best position. He’s got really unique traits for the position and it will give us more depth. We think with the additions of Samson (Ebukam), Taven (Bryan) and now adding Tomi plus what we already had on the roster, now we’re starting to get a group that’s got eight, nine players that we can rotate in and out. We added a lot of competition, that’s for sure.”

            -Outlook: Adebawore is one of the most eye-popping athletic testing defensive lineman you’ll ever find. Adebawore was a team captain in his final season at Northwestern. Like fellow 4th round pick Blake Freeland, Adebawore was a Senior Bowl participant and has a strong track background in the throwing events. On his draft call, Adebawore said he prefers to play in the interior of the defensive line, particularly in that 3-technqiue role (like DeForest Buckner). Adebawore’s strength is his get off the ball and is known for a high motor. He stated his technique needs some work as he tries to find a 3-down role in the NFL. An exact position fit plus a lack of height probably attributed to his falling. It remains to be seen exactly where Adebawore will fit along the defensive line, but the Colts could use some interior depth probably more than outside. Starting defensive tackles are not a question in Indy, but depth is up in the air.

3. Round 5, Pick 138: South Carolina Cornerback Darius Rush (6-2, 198)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 South Carolina at Florida Source:Getty

            -2022 Stats: 10 games (9 starts). 38 tackles (28 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 passes defensed, 2 interceptions.

            -Career Stats: 43 career games played (21 starts). 74 tackles (60 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, 18 passes defensed, 3 interceptions.


            -Interesting Fact: Rush was originally a wide receiver at South Carolina, moving to cornerback in 2019.



            -Ballard’s Quote to Note: “Darius Rush, we really liked. I mean, he’s an athletic, long corner – kind of fits our profile. A converted wideout, so he’s got ball skills. He can play the deep ball. He’s kind of a guy that we had even talked about taking him in the fourth (round), but then ended up taking the tackle and the d-tackle.”

            -Outlook: After taking cornerback JuJu Brents in Round Two, the Colts dipped back into a major position of need with Darius Rush in Round Five. Rush is a 6-2, 198-pound corner who ran an impressive 4.36 in the 40-yard dash. Rush’s speed is a huge asset as an outside cornerback. Rush was the Senior Bowl Cornerback of the Week, so mark that box off the Chris Ballard checklist. A slight nitpick here is Rush is another outside corner, granted the depth chart there could probably use another body. The thought was the Colts could have used a nickel/slot corner option but that is not part of Rush’s background at South Carolina. Rush was not penalized often at South Carolina. However, he isn’t known as a strong tackle and only had 3 career interceptions. The goal here is Brents and/or Rush will become an outside starter of the future. Rush will join JuJu Brents as fighting for starting competition with Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Dallis Flowers as the main outside corners.

4. Round 5, Pick 158: California Safety Daniel Scott (6-1, 208)

Stanford v California Source:Getty

            -2022 Stats: 12 games (12 starts). 85 tackles (57 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, 7 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles.

            -Career Stats: 49 games (28 career starts). 207 tackles (137 solo), 7.0 tackles for loss, 14 passes defensed, 7 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles.


            -Interesting Fact: Scott turns 25 years old in October, as he played 6 years a Cal.

            -Scott’s Quote to Note: “I think the hallmarks of my game are my versatility, playing both down safety, deep-high safety, playing a little bit of nickel reps. Then, obviously my versatility sometimes on special teams. I think my football IQ and instincts are second to none. So, I value that side of the game. It’s not only just physical stuff but also mental. I remember talking to them at the Senior Bowl. We talked to kind of every team there.”

           -Ballard’s Quote to Note: “I think he’s got a chance to play too. I mean, this guy is an instinctive, athletic, fast player. We think it’s going to help him. Adds depth to the position. A guy we’ve kind of been following the whole time through the process and liking every step along the way. He adds great depth and I think he’ll compete. I think he’ll be in the mix to compete, to play.”


            -Outlook: More than anything, Scott is a core special teamer. Round 5 might be a hair early for a special teams specific pick, but maybe you want to give new ST coordinator Brian Mason someone he wanted to target. Scott will walk into an organization which has found some premier special teams players throughout Day 3 of drafts and even in the undrafted realm. Again, Round 5 is typically not just that for a special teamer, so we’ll see if Scott can push for safety playing time, too. Scott started 28 career games at Cal, and offered some playmaking from a turnover standpoint, but isn’t known for his consistency in the tackling department. Clearly though, Chris Ballard thinks Scott can get into the safety mix. Scott put up one of the most impressive jumping days at the Combine. You do have some safety questions in regards to Rodney McLeod still in free agency/debating retirement and Julian Blackmon entering a contract year. These picks almost always bring some sort of special teams impact, and Scott’s resume checks that. We will see how the playing time divvies up this year with Nick Cross and Rodney Thomas II heading into their second seasons, following vastly different rookie campaigns.

5. Round 6, Pick 211: Wagner Defensive End Titus Leo (6-3, 245)

Indianapolis Colts NFL Draft Selections day 1 - day 3 Source:n/a

            -2022 Stats: 11 games (11 starts). 65 tackles (39 solo), 14.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.

            -Career Stats: 38 games (33 career starts). 234 tackles (140 solo), 40.0 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, 6 forced fumbles.


            -Interesting Fact: Leo joins Colts defensive tackle Chris Williams as 2 of the 4 all-time NFL-ers from Wagner.

            -Leo’s Quote to Note: “I’m expected to develop as an edge rusher really. As they said, I’m just scratching the surface of my potential. The transition – I played strong side linebacker, I played receiver, safety and EDGE. I’ve only played defensive end and the edge rusher for only 22 games – just two seasons. So, I’m still really a rookie at this position and just developing into it.”

             -Ballard’s Quote to Note: “We got into the sixth and we were kind of looking for somebody with speed off the edge. We brought him in for a (top) 30 visit. We thought he was really good at the East West (Shrine Bowl). He was out at the East West game. So, he’ll be added to the mix. It’s competition. He’s got speed and toughness. So, that’s good traits to work with.”


             -Outlook: When you have a dozen picks in a draft, it makes sense to throw a Day 3 dart at a small-school pass rusher. And it’s still early in even calling Leo a ‘pass rusher.’ Like E.J. Speed entering the NFL out of Tarleton State in 2019, Leo played multiple positions, on both sides of the ball. Seeing just 13 sacks for Leo is a very small number for a guy getting drafted from an FCS school. A strong East West Shrine Bowl helped Leo’s cause to being drafted in Round 6. In Chris Ballard’s drafting history, he has yet to find a true speed guy off the edge that’s found a consistent role in Indy. Even Kwity Paye is more known for his power first. Here is a long-shot, attempt at just that.

6. Round 7, Pick 221: Texas A&M Jaylon Jones (6-2, 200)

Capital One Orange Bowl - Texas A&M v North Carolina Source:Getty

            -2022 Stats: 10 games (10 starts). 33 tackles (27 solo), 2 passes defensed, 0 interceptions.

            -Career Stats: 32 games (32 career starts). 98 tackles (72 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, 17 passes defensed, 3 interceptions.


            -Interesting Fact: Rated as the No. 1 safety recruit in the nation for the high school class of 2020.

            -Jones’ Quote to Note: “Me being a bigger corner, I look at guys like Jalen Ramsey, Marlon Humphrey. Guys like that, I watch how aggressive they are at the line, messing up routes from the get-go. All the assets in my game, I just feel like I’m a long, rangy corner, very physical, get to the ball. I’m very intelligent – just slowing the game down for myself and seeing what it looks like, seeing what it’s for and just attacking and bringing 110 percent every day. That’s the type of player you’re getting in Indianapolis.”

            -Ballard’s Quote to Note: “All three corners, we wanted to add competition to that position in which I think we were able to do. The room is going to look a little different with these guys added.”


            -Outlook: A third cornerback in the draft, and a second out of the SEC, came with Jones. Some teams have been curious about Jones playing safety, but it sounds like the Colts view him as another outside cornerback. While corner was a huge need for Indy, and outside guys, it is surprising to see all 3 of these CBs best fit as outside. So, no one with slot potential, with Kenny Moore in a contract year. Jones’ lack of top-end speed is a big reason why he dropped to Round 7. It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out with these rookie corners, as they walk into a wide-open room for playing time.


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