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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Washington State at UCLA

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INDIANAPOLISHonestly, the Colts shouldn’t have a ton of starts needed from their 2024 rookie class.

On paper, when you return all 22 starters, the expectation is more situational roles for the rookies.

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 2024 draft class:

1. DE-Laiatu Latu (7-8)

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Latu’s rookie season shouldn’t be evaluated if he’s a full-time starter or even playing consistently on all 3 downs. No, as long as Latu is giving you a consistent presence when the passing downs come around, that will be more than enough to qualify for a successful rookie campaign. Latu plays a position group where there’s consistent rotation throughout a game, so don’t expect his snaps to be north of 70 percent. But still expect Latu to play a major pass-rushing role and rotate consistently with Kwity Paye and Samson Ebukam.

2. WR-Adonai Mitchell (5-6)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Kansas at Texas Source:Getty

If you look at average snaps played last season for all NFL wideouts, Alec Pierce ranked 2nd in the NFL (64.1) and Michael Pittman Jr. ranked 4th (61.9). The Colts need to alleviate some of that workload, so that’s where Mitchell should help. But he also delivered on some big-time stages in college, so his impact, while still rounding out his overall game, should see early contributions. Are we looking mostly at a 4-man wideout rotation with Mitchell and Pierce splitting reps, alongside Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs playing their normal amount?

3. OL-Matt Goncalves (4-5)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Tennessee at Pitt Source:Getty

Compared to many of these names, especially in the earlier rounds, it remains to be seen exactly where Goncalves will line up as a rookie, especially after a foot injury sidelined him to just 3 games in 2023. But if Goncalves becomes the backup at any spot, he’s just one serious injury away by a starter from playing every single snap. Still though, it’s hard to peg an exact spot for Goncalves in his rookie season.

4. OL-Tanor Bortolini (3-4)

Georgia Southern v Wisconsin Source:Getty

Down the road, center is the likely path to consistent playing time for Bortolini. In 2024 though, a redshirt type of rookie campaign isn’t that farfetched. The Colts know Bortolini needs to add some strength to handle this level. Perhaps Bortolini can challenge for some guard depth as a rookie. But the Colts have a few more options there (Josh Sills, Wesley French, Danny Pinter) than they currently do out at tackle.

5. WR-Anthony Gould (6-7)

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This number is focusing mostly on the return element that Gould is expected to bring from Day 1. Gould showed in the college he should be able to transition to the NFL as a return man, with the new kickoff rule certainly aiding his smaller frame, instead focusing more on the make you miss ability in the tighter windows of the return. The offensive role for him though is likely to be much more gadget-y.

6. LB-Jaylon Carlies (5-6)

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The 3rd linebacker spot around the NFL doesn’t see anywhere near the same amount of playing time as it did 5-10 years ago. But it’s still something teams use. And the Colts clearly see a path in Carlies making a position switch from safety in college. If Carlies wins that 3rd linebacker spot behind Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed, then you should pencil him in for probably slightly less than half of the defensive snaps.

7. DB-Jaylin Simpson (1-2)

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While the Colts don’t have many entrenched spots in the secondary, it’s still difficult to see where Simpson fits into that, assuming a veteran move or two is coming (do not expect anything soon there). At cornerback, you have Kenny Moore II, JuJu Brents, Jaylon Jones, Dallis Flowers, Darrell Baker Jr., Chris Lammons and Ameer Speed. And that’s without another free agent move this offseason. Is there an open spot once you get past Flowers? Simpson does have safety history and that path might be better for him competing for a roster spot. But it sounds like corner will be his first look.

8. CB-Micah Abraham (2-3)

Scooter's Coffee Frisco Bowl - UTSA v Marshall Source:Getty

The reason to give Abraham a little more of a chance to make the team/even play a little is because of his history playing nickel corner. That’s important in making sure the 53-man roster has some insurance if Kenny Moore II goes down. For Abraham to have any real shot at making the team, he’s going to have to show this ability, while also impacting on special teams.

9. DT-Jonah Laulu (1)

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More so than just about any draft pick in the Chris Ballard era, Laulu making the team would be quite the upset. Laulu is entering the deepest position group on the roster. He’s also a prospect who had very little college production, compared to most draft picks, so this selection is about molding those traits for something down the road. I see the practice squad as a much more realistic path in Year One.

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