The NFL Draft has come and gone, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it wasn’t that great. Certainly no better than Ballard’s past draft classes. He claims he missed out on a lot of players that they wanted, but there were still good players of need on the board when they were selecting, so what gives? I’m not going to sit here and say I’m better than NFL scouts, and Ballard hasn’t really failed us yet, right? But this offseason as a whole has just felt…lackluster. Supposedly we have more money than we know what to do with and signed no one of importance. We lost a 3rd round pick, so we all assumed Ballard would trade down to collect more picks. Trading down to get a later sixth and a seventh does not count.
Regardless, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this will be a great class? And I’ve never wanted to be wrong more in my life. Seven total picks and, as of writing this, five undrafted free agents. And none of them really have that star factor aside from our first-round pick, Kwity Paye. And if you want to look at that negatively, we drafted a pass rusher whose only issue is pass rushing. The Blue Stable staff, including myself, broke down the Kwity Paye pick already, so today, I’m going to break down the rest of our draft and give you an idea of the ideal role that I see each draftee playing.
Round 2, Pick 54: Dayo Odeyingbo, DL Vanderbilt
He’s listed as a defensive end, but Dayo Odeyingbo can play everywhere on the defensive line. From EDGE to Nose Tackle, Dayo has done it all. He is a fantastic athlete, and his versatility makes him a nightmare for offensive lines that won’t be able to handle his speed and explosiveness. As a player, he is very similar to Kwity Paye. He is a great athlete that is good against the run and not so great as a pass rusher. But just like with Paye, these things can be coached, whereas athleticism can not. And while I think there were better players available at the time, this is still a solid pickup at a position where the Colts struggled last season. He did suffer an Achilles tear back in January, and as of now, the Colts have no timetable on a return for him, so the Colts should hold their breath in hoping he returns as the same player he was.
Ideal Role: Similar to Denico Autry, being able to rush next to Deforest Buckner on the interior, as well as coming off the edge when needed.
Round 4, Pick 127: Kylen Granson, TE SMU
Everyone expected Ballard to somehow end up with a 3rd round pick, and he didn’t. I felt like he would miss out on a lot of good players in the third, but he really didn’t. Most were available at this pick, but he passed on them for a 6-foot-2 tight end. Kylen Granson wasn’t even my top tight end on the board still (It was actually Brevin Jordan, who still needs work but would have been a great pick here). Granson is a good player, but he doesn’t seem like the tight end the Colts were looking for. He is more of an H-back or a slot receiver to me than he is a tight end. He’s a solid athlete, which is expected in a Ballard draft, but that’s almost all he has going for him. He isn’t a good route runner, he isn’t very strong, and he’s not that good of a blocker. He is very much a project piece, and there were honestly better options on the board at the time.
Ideal Role: H-back and core special teamer
Round 5, Pick 165: Shawn Davis, S Florida
Another player that wasn’t even the best at his position at the time taken. And I want to reiterate: I am not an NFL scout, and I don’t claim to know more than guys who get paid to do this. But there were better-proven safeties at this pick and even better players at actual positions of need here. I’m going to sound like a broken record saying this, but he is a great athlete, but he isn’t that great in the aspects of his position that you’d like him to be good at. He has good range, but his tackling needs work, and his coverage is only decent. His range makes him relatively reliable at getting to the ball while it’s in the air, but he tries to make too many flashy plays and ends up losing the turnover most of the time—an overall decent player with an unknown upside.
Ideal Role: Backup to Khari Willis and core special teamer
Round 6, Pick 218: Sam Ehlinger, QB Texas
Now don’t get me wrong, Sam Ehlinger was one of my favorite quarterbacks in college over the last couple of years. But this pick was highly questionable. Ehlinger was a great college QB, but is almost certainly going to have trouble adjusting to the NFL. He is great with the ball when he takes off and runs. But his arm strength is below average and his accuracy isn’t that great either. He had a lot of help from his receivers at Texas in coming down with balls that just weren’t thrown well. All of that combined with the fact that the Colts are currently carrying three quarterbacks on the roster, including Carson Wentz (who they got for what likely will be a first round pick in 2022) and Jacob Eason who was the 4th round pick last year that many expected to go on day 2. Jacob Eason was getting consideration to start the 2021 season, and while the Colts haven’t seen much of him to be thought of as the ideal backup he has much better mechanics than Ehlinger. They essentially wasted a first round pick on a practice squad QB.
Ideal Role: Practice squad arm or move to wide receiver/running back.
Round 7, Pick 229: Michael Strachan, WR Charleston
This pick, I liked. Michael Strachan is coming from a DII school, but he certainly proved himself. This kid is a freak athlete, and at 6-foot-5, 226-pounds, he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and put up 20 reps on the bench. He finished his Pro Day with a 9.86 RAS and boosted his draft stock. As a receiver, he is a bit of a project, but he is a low-risk, VERY high reward player. He doesn’t have the greatest route running, but he can go up and catch the football. Also, he is very similar to Kyle Pitts, where he is too tall to be covered by defensive backs and too fast to be covered by linebackers. He can truly develop into something great.
Ideal Role: Developmental WRX or add weight and potentially move to tight end
Round 7, Pick 248: Will Fries, OL Penn State
The Colts have him listed as a guard, but Will Fries’ versatility allows him to play almost anywhere on the offensive line. In four years at Penn State, he started at every position on the line except center. He’s a great athlete despite a slow 40-yard dash but was likely brought in for his versatility. He seems to have a lot to clean up as a blocker, but as a depth piece, I’m sure he will likely make the 53-man roster this season.
Ideal Role: Offensive line depth
UDFA: Tyler Vaughns, WR USC
I also wanted to look at Tyler Vaughns, the undrafted wide receiver the Colts signed out of USC. Every year, the Colts have at least one player make the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent, and this year, I’m confident this will be the man to do so. He isn’t the fastest and has a few things to clean up as a route runner, but Vaughns has strong hands to catch the ball. He seems to excel in 50/50 balls due to his hands, height, and jumping ability. He played three years at USC with current Colts WR, Michael Pittman, so they have that chemistry already. I liked this kid before the draft, and I fully expected him to go around rounds 6 or 7. Picking him up as a UDFA gives him very low-risk, very high-reward potential.
Other Undrafted Free Agents: Anthony Butler (LB Liberty), Isaiah Kaufusi (LB BYU), Deon Jackson (RB Duke), Tarik Black (WR Texas)
OVERALL GRADE: C
This draft class as a whole seems more like a project class than a good draft class in general. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not always what you want. I hope I’m wrong about it, and in 7 months, you can come back here and make fun of me for it, and I will gladly accept that. Every year we are asked to trust Chris Ballard, and he hasn’t let us down yet, so let’s all hope this year is the same.