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The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone. Fans were able to attend and be a part of this special night for the top prospects coming out of college after missing out in 2020. Top prospects dropped further than fans expected them to, which made for some surprising picks. Coming into this year’s draft, the Colts had 2 primary needs to address and a couple secondary; the primary being Left Tackle and Defensive End, secondary being Teight End, Corner,  and Safety.  Let’s take a look at the 2021 Colts draft class…

 

Round 1, Pick 21: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

The Colts’ first pick in this year’s draft was used on Kwity Paye, a 6’4″ 272lb Defensive End out of Michigan. Without a doubt, one of the biggest surprises to be available to the Colts at the 21st overall pick, Kwity Paye, fills a huge hole left by the departures of Denico Autry and Justin Houston in free agency. In the strange season that was the 2020 college football season, Kwity was only able to play in 4 games, only putting up 2 sacks. In the 2019 season, Paye was undoubtedly the anchor of the Michigan Wolverines defensive front, racking up an amazing 6.5 sacks per game average in 12 games played. At his pro-day, he put up 36 reps at the bench press, a 118″ broad jump, and ran a 4.52 40-yard dash. The speed displayed in his pro-day workout translates onto the field as it allows him to speed around offensive lineman with ease. Going into the off-season workouts, Kwity will need to add a secondary move in order to maneuver around O-lineman at the NFL level.

 

Grade: A

 

Round 2, Pick 54: Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt

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The selection of Dayo Odeyingbo came as a surprise to most Colts fans watching on Friday night, as most expected to see the Colts draft the new starting Left Tackle. Ballard used his 54th overall selection on the Defensive End out of Vanderbilt to further bolster the Colts defensive front. Standing at 6’6″ 276lbs, Odeyingbo, despite an Achilles injury ending his senior season after 8 games, managed to record 5.5 sacks in the 2020 season. This was a major improvement from just 1.5 in 2019. He’s a record-breaker possessing a massive 86 3/8″ wingspan which is not only the largest out of all NFL defensive ends but in the NFL as a whole. The injury is a concern; however, Colts fans remember how well Julian Blackmon was able to recover after suffering a late-season ACL injury in his senior year at Utah. Adding this selection with the current talent will create a scary defensive front rotation with Deforest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Ben Banogu, Kemoko Turay, and the new additions of Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo (when healthy).

 

Grade: C+

 

Round 4, Pick 127: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU

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Similar in size to Trey Burton, at 6’3″ 241lbs, Kylen Granson is a fast and athletic Tight End that may be the vertical threat Frank Reich and Chris Ballard has been looking for in that position. In 10 games with SMU in the 2020 season, Granson collected 35 receptions for 536 yards and 5 touchdowns. Not to mention averaging 15.3 yards per reception. Granson is a Tight End who has the tools to avoid defenders using his speed and agility to rack up close to 17 yards after the catch on average. Throughout his college season, drops were a concern, but nothing that can’t be improved upon through training camp. I see Granson having a similar role to the already mentioned Trey Burton in the red zone or key 3rd down situations.

 

Grade: C

 

Round 5, Pick: 165: Shawn Davis, S, Florida

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With the departure of Malik Hooker this off-season, the Colts decided to fill that hole, and add more depth with the selection of Shawn Davis out of Florida. In the 2020 season, Davis only played in 7 games due to injuries and cancelation of games, where he totaled 39 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 pass defended. The stats may not jump off the page for Davis, but watching his film, he is a very speedy and athletic Safety that has the ability to cover Wide Receivers and Tight Ends much taller than him. He will absolutely be a great addition to play alongside Julian Blackmon in the Colts secondary.

 

Grade: B-

 

Round 6, Pick 218: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

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This off-season, we will see a backup QB battle in training camp with the addition of Sam Ehlinger out of Texas. Ehlinger had a good career at Texas, racking up career numbers of 11,436 yards, 94 touchdowns, a completion percentage of 62.5%, and a career passer rating of 145. He does not give the ball away often, giving up only 27 total interceptions in his 4 years at Texas. Not only is he smart with his throws, but he also has the ability to throw accurately on the run and gain yardage with his legs, having rushed for 1,903 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career. My belief is that Sam Ehlinger will start the season as the #2 or #3 QB on the depth chart behind Carson Wentz and possibly Jacob Eason. I see Ehlinger being used in the role Taysom Hill has been used the past couple of seasons.

 

Grade: B-

 

Round 7, Pick 229: Michael Strachan, WR, Charleston (West Virginia)

The Colts kicked off the 7th round by drafting a big and talented Wide Receiver out of division 2 Charleston. The 2020 season may have been canceled for Michael Strachan, but the work he put in the previous 3 were remarkable. The 6’5″ 225lb Wide Receiver had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 & 2019, with his stats in 2019 standing out the most. Strachan hauled in 78 catches for 1,319 yards and 19 touchdowns. His speed was also put on display when at his pro-day, he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash. The addition of Strachan means there will be no shortage of weapons for Carson Wentz to use in the 2021 season with a loaded offense.

Grade: B

 

Round 7, Pick 248: Will Fries, OG, Penn State

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With their final pick, the Colts drafted Will Fries out of Penn State. Seemingly to be used as a depth piece, Fries has a lot of experience at multiple positions on the offensive line. In his 42 starts for the Penn State Nittany Lions, Fries started 26 games at Right Tackle, 9 at Left Tackle, 6 at Right Guard, and 1 at Left Guard. A big man at 6’6″ 306lbs, Fries, in the 2020 season was named to the All-Big Ten 2nd team for his skills shown in the shortened season. The Colts may not use Fries as their starting Left Tackle this season, but it would not come as a shock to see him enter a few games or step in for an injured player.

 

Grade: B

 

After going back and diving deep into all of the draft picks, I was able to really see what they would bring to the table for the Colts. You never truly know what you’re going to get from a player until they step on the field. The biggest Colts examples being Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, and most recently, Julian Blackmon.

 

Overall Grade: B

 

 

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