Draft season is quickly approaching its end, and so many draft tidbits are dropped in the media every day. The hard part is sorting through it all and deciding what is real and what is smoke. Over the next two weeks, I will drop three mock drafts, all of which will be making predictions on what I am hearing around the league and from sources close to the Indianapolis Colts.
Pick 42: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Pickens is my WR 5 on my big board (click here to see big board) and screams immediate impact player for whoever drafts the former Georgia Bulldog. When you see Pickens tape, you see a player who can do it all. Sadly he mainly spent his last college season recovering from an ACL tear. The injury limited his appearances to four games, and he only put up five catches for 107 yards. But don’t let that fool you; Pickens is the real deal. Pickens has great size and speed combo, measuring at 6 foot 3 and running a 4.47 40-yard dash. This size and speed combination showed in college as his ability to win reps using both at a high level was evident. That versatility is one of the many reasons his fit in Indy seems too perfect to pass up, and if he is on the board at pick 42, I expect Indy to run the card up.
Colts Send 3.73 & 5.179 to the Patriots for 3.85, 4.127 & 5.170
Knowing Chris Ballard, I can’t imagine he thinks seven draft picks is enough. So after not being able to pass on Pickens in the 2nd, the Colts trade back in the 3rd to add an extra 4th and move up in the 5th.
Pick 85: Cade Otton, TE, Washington
Otton is a name that is flying under the radar among TE’s this draft cycle. That is because an injury held him out of the combine and his pro day. However, Otton still wound up my TE4 even without combine/pro day testing. Otton doesn’t possess elite speed for the TE position by any means, but via his tape, I projected him to run a 4.77 40 time, which would be considered slightly above average for the TE position. Without the elite speed to create separation, Otton found success relying on his route running ability. Otton has proved to be an intelligent route runner who, with the right coach, should be able to find some early career success. On tape, Otton reminds me a lot of Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz, who many Colts fans hoped would hit the FA market.
Pick 122: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
Some will think this is too early for Melton, but I strongly disagree. Melton is a superb athlete grading out with an 8.78 RAS, and ended up as my WR. And if it weren’t for his below-average size (5’11, 189 lbs), it would be even higher. Melton ran a 4.34 40 at the combine, and he looks even faster on tape. He is very smooth with his cuts and can play bigger than someone his size should because of his above-average vertical of 38 inches. Melton will have to learn to play through corners trying to outmuscle him, but he has shown to be someone who keeps getting back up even if you knock him down.
Pick 127: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
Pick 159: Dane Belton, S, Iowa
A day 3 DB is a staple of a Ballard-led Colts draft. Belton ended up as S13 in my personal rankings. Belton projects as a solid depth S with the potential of being a starter if a coach can turn his high moments into a more consistent aspect of his game. Belton used his instincts and football IQ on the field at Iowa as he is always paying attention to the QB and often makes a play away from his assignment. He finished 2nd in the Big Ten in interceptions with 5 in 2021 and was among the lowest penalized players at his position (zero in 2021 and only two over his entire collegiate career). His desire to always make a play can get the best of him and will have to be monitored at the pro level as QBs will bait him. With a solid S room in place in Indy with Willis, Blackmon, and the newly signed McLeod, Belton wouldn’t be asked to produce much early and could polish his game to fit the NFL.
Pick 170: Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
Another Nittany Lion joins the Colts in my mock. Smith ended up as my LB13 in my personal rankings. Smith is an excellent athlete who put up a 4.52 40-yard dash and a 37.5 vertical, both incredibly above the average for someone his size and position. That athleticism led to him receiving one of the best RAS for a LB ever at 9.97, which would rank 8th all-time among LBs. So how would someone with that athleticism be available in round 5? One reason is that he struggled to get off blocks once engaged. His athleticism may have helped him avoid defenders at times in college (even in the Big 10), but that will be intensely more difficult at the pro level. I doubt Smith can offer much of any defensive snaps early in his career, but his athleticism will allow him to play special teams early and do so at a high level while he improves his game.
Pick 216: Chris Paul, OG, Tulsa
In the 6th round, I have the Colts selecting Chris Paul (no, not that Chris Paul). The guard out of Tulsa ended up as my IOL11 in my personal rankings. In college, he was a better run blocker than a pass blocker. Part of that came from his handwork off the snap needs to be coached up. At times when he feels he’s losing a rep, he would decide to hug the defender, and that’s not going to fly in the NFL. Although he is a little smaller than your average guard at 6’3 323 lbs, Paul moves pretty well as he ran a solid 4.89 40 to showcase that. Paul projects as a solid depth interior piece and spot starter who has experience at G and T, and versatility is huge as a depth lineman.
Pick 240: D’Vonte Price, RB, Florida International
I know the Colts drafting a running back may come as a shock to most but hear me out. The Colts seem to always look at RB when scouring the UDFA market, and in the 7th round, you’re just looking for one of those guys on your UDFA list that you don’t want to fight other teams for. Price has an above-average build for a back at 6’1 220 but still ran a 4.38 40. Now that speed is more straight ahead of him as he doesn’t pop on tape as a very shifty runner. Adding a bigger back to the RB room would add a different element as the only depth backs currently are Nyheim Hines and Deon Jackson, both smaller backs. Adding a bigger back to take snaps off Taylor’s plate at times makes sense for the Colts long term as they don’t want to run Taylor’s wheels off early (as we’ve seen with other backs).