The Indianapolis Colts selected 9 players on day 3 of the NFL draft Saturday. While day 3 is typically used to fill out the depth of a roster, there are always a few guys from every draft class who significantly outperform their draft positions from the draft’s final day. Fans have seen Chris Ballard successfully add contributors in this capacity in nearly every class he’s put together.
Players such as Grover Stewart, Zaire Franklin, Nyheim Hines, EJ Speed, Marlon Mack, Isaiah Rodgers Sr., Kylen Granson, and Rodney Thomas II were all day 3 picks that have, or had, been meaningful contributors in Indianapolis. While many of the players the Colts took on Saturday may start out as backups, a few have intriguing developmental traits that could take 2-3 years to surface. It is important to dampen expectations of immediate contributions from several of these guys, as it will take considerable time before they are ready to produce at an NFL level.
With that being said, let’s touch on each of the players Chris Ballard selected on Saturday.
Round 4: Blake Freeland OT, BYU
The selection of Freeland addressed a huge need for Indianapolis. Going into the draft, the Colts only had two tackles with any NFL experience on the roster. While the former BYU tackle has a long way to go before he can be expected to perform as an NFL starter, his 9.83 relative athletic score and nearly 34-inch arms give him the athletic baseline required to develop into a valuable piece of a retooling offensive line. At the very least, Freeland should be expected to eventually challenge for a starting tackle spot or serve as a reliable swing tackle by the end of his four-year rookie contract. If all else fails, a move inside may not be out of the question for Freeland, as the Colts need depth at every spot across the o-line.
Round 4: Adetomiwa Adebawore DL, Northwestern
Projected to go in the first round by some analysts Adebawore, who from here on out I will call “Double A”, was a steal at pick 110. Double A fits the theme of Chris Ballard’s draft class, where he seemed to focus on big, elite, athletes. The former Northwestern Wildcat strung together an incredible performance at the NFL combine where he weighed in at 282 pounds and still managed to run a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 37.5-inch vertical jump. Double A is a versatile defensive lineman who the Colts will immediately use in their rotation at 3T alongside DeForest Buckner, Eric Johnson, and Taven Bryan.
Round 5: Darius Rush CB, South Carolina
The Colts heavily addressed the cornerback position in this draft, essentially a requirement since the two starting cornerbacks going into the draft were Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Dallis Flowers. Rush is an athletic, long corner that Ballard got significantly later than the consensus. If Rush is to contribute early it will likely be as a special teamer or in reserve. However, his long arms and speed give him a fighting chance to develop into a starting cornerback under Gus Bradley.
Round 5: Daniel Scott S, California
With the departure of veteran Rodney McCleod in free agency, the Colts needed another leader in the secondary who had starting experience, whether that be in college or the NFL. While it would be foolish to expect Scott to immediately bring a veteran presence to a young safety room, he will be one of the older guys in the group the minute he steps foot in the Colts building. A team captain with high football character, Scott brings depth and immediate special teams contributions to a Colts roster who will benefit greatly from both.
Round 5: Will Mallory TE, Miami (FL)
Mallory enters a crowded tight-end room where he will immediately add competition to a room filled with athletic freaks. The former Canes player also tested as an elite athlete at the NFL combine and has said that he’ll be willing to work both inline as a blocker or as a pass catcher, whatever the team asks of him. If Mallory makes the roster he’ll probably have to beat out last year’s training camp star Andrew Ogletree or be relegated to the practice squad. Nevertheless, Mallory could turn into a TE 3 if all goes correctly in his progression as a player.
Round 5: Evan Hull RB, Northwestern
Hull will look to compete with Deon Jackson for the RB3 job in training camp. A hard-nosed runner and prolific pass catcher, the former Wildcat projects to fill the pass-catching role out of the backfield that was vacated when Nyheim Hines was traded to Buffalo. I think Hull should win the RB3 role in training camp, and then get on the field in third down and other passing situations once the season begins. Look for Evan Hull to be one of the earliest producing rookies from this draft class.
Round 6: Titus Leo DPR, Wagner
Titus Leo projects as a developmental designated pass rusher who will probably begin his career on the practice squad. Leo hasn’t been rushing the passer for very long, as he noted in his post-selection interview with local media, meaning he will need time to develop. This is a selection that won’t pay off this year or next, but if Titus Leo can hone in on his craft and learn to use the rare tools he has, then the sky is the limit for this player. Don’t be surprised when Leo doesn’t make the 53-man roster come August. However given time to work on the Colts’ practice squad, Leo could make an impact by year 3 or 4.
Round 7: Jaylon Jones CB, Texas A&M
The third cornerback selected by Chris Ballard, Jaylon Jones was a player I had mocked to the Colts in the third round months ago. Jones didn’t showcase top-end speed during the NFL combine, which caused him to fall. Jones is another dart throw late on day 3 who walks into a wide-open competition for playing time in the secondary, specifically at cornerback. I wouldn’t be surprised if he surprises in camp and makes the final roster.
Round 7: Jake Witt OT, Northern Michigan
Witt is an uber-athletic upside swing at a premium position of need, which is always a safe bet this late in the draft. I have seen some saying that Witt should factor into the Colts’ future decisions regarding tackle which I don’t agree with. This is a player who has started thirteen total games at tackle at the Division II level and is nowhere close to playing NFL football. He will almost certainly be stashed on the practice squad this season, and will likely still not be ready to compete for a roster spot next year either. In my estimation, Witt could possibly compete for a roster spot in 2025. Chris Ballard drafted the former UP-Michigan Mr. Basketball simply to fend off the fierce competition waiting during the UDFA period.
More from The Blue Stable:
Check out our post-draft selection article on CB Darius Rush from Jay Robins: HERE