As the draft inches closer; I think it is only fitting to talk about a few offensive prospects in this year’s draft and their possibility to get drafted by Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are in a prime position to draft one or two offensive linemen for depth; but more importantly, the Colts have to upgrade their passing attack.
If the Colts want to be the team that everyone is scared of; it is in their best interest to draft multiple wide receivers and a tight end. In order for the Colts to continue to have a potent offense with Jonathan Taylor at the helm; the passing game will need to take a big step forward. It seems Matt Ryan is already meshing well with the offensive skill position players, and players like Mo Alie Cox, Kylen Granson, and Parris Campbell are eager to make an impact this coming season. In order for the offense to take a step forward; another new playmaking wide receiver must be drafted, to take the stress off of Michael Pittman Jr.
The Colts’ offensive depth has taken a hit this off-season, as players like Julien Davenport, Mark Glowinski, and Chris Reed have all signed contracts elsewhere as free agents. Ballard has addressed the offensive line depth with the signing of Brandon Kemp from Valdosta State. One depth piece is not enough for Ballard’s liking, so do not be surprised if one offensive guard and one offensive tackle are drafted by Ballard. Ballard has made it his mission to protect the quarterback as soon as he was hired as GM and it is not any different this time around.
The prospects that were picked for this list; are players who the Colts have a genuine interest in, have scouted/worked with them, and fit the mold of what Chris Ballard looks for in a future Indianapolis Colt.
- Gerrit Prince (UAB, TE)- With the retirement of Jack Doyle, it is evident the Colts are in need of another tight end to help become a potential security blanket, playmaker, and part-time blocker for Matt Ryan. Gerrit Price is a 6’5″ 240 tight end who played for the University of Alabama Birmingham. Prince had 36 recptions for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. While Prince is a late bloomer because of playing sparingly at UAB in his first three years; he averaged 19.4 yards per reception and had three games with 100+ receiving yards in 2021. With only averaging three recptions per game in 2021, it is a small sample size to choose from, but with the Colts having the chance to work with Prince at the 2022 Shrine Bowl as he was part of the West team. Prince is defintely an intriguing prsopect with good size and abilty to be a receiving factor at a moment’s notice, but the lack of a track record as a blocker may hurt his draft stock. Expect him to be available as a priority undrafted free agent for the Colts
- Ryan Van Demark (UConn, OT)- Depth is always a key theme in how Ballard operates when drafting new players since he became the Colts general manager in 2017. With the departure of Julien Davenport and the potential departures of Sam Tevi and Eric Fischer; the depth is dwindling and so is the experience with the current Colts’ offensive tackles. Van Demark is 6’6″ and weighs 307 pounds. He was a team captain in 2021 for UConn and a four year starter at offensive tackle. He is not a prospect that gets you excited, as he gave up 10 sacks, 10 QB hits, and 33 hurries in 2019 and 2021 combined. Demark shows the character, leadership, and mental strength to be able to fight for a roster spot and perform on an NFL team. Except, his last two years have been subpar, as Demark was a starter for one of the worst college football teams in recent memory. If the Colts take a flyer on Demark, do not expect it to happen until their last pick in the draft or if Demark is signed as an undrafted free agent. Demark fits the size mold, the character/IQ traits of a Ballard pick, but his athletcism is something that could hinder his ability to maintain the constant pressure of NFL quality defensive linemen.
- Ty Fryfogle (Indiana University, WR)
With Fryfogle attending the Colts’ local pro day and participating for the West team at the 2022 Shrine Bowl; The Colts have had their chance to take in depth looks and work with Fryfogle. Marcus Brady was the head coach of the Shrine Bowl West team and Klayton Adams was the offensive coordinator for the team during the prospect bowl game. Fryfogle is a 6’1″ and is 205 pounds with 9 3/4″ quarter size hands, an unoffcial 4.53 40 yard dash, and an unoffcial 39 inch vertical. Fryfogle possesses 30 3/4″ inch size arms to along with 10 feet 5 inch broad jump. Fryfogle is a very athletic wide receiver with great speed and has the ability to box out opponents on deep throws. His knack is his consistency, as his athletic tools and performance in 2021 do not match up with his production in 2019 and 2020. Because of his regression in 2021, expect Fryfogle to be available late during day three of the draft. As Fryfogle was a team captain for the Indiana Hoosier football team in 2021 and an All-Big Ten honorable mention; it is easy to see why Ballard and Co’ have their eyes on Fryfogle. Fryfogle should not be expected to be an immediate impact for the Colts if drafted; he should be viewed as a developing WR to be opposite Michael Pittman Jr and depth wide receiver.
- Hayden Howerton (SMU, IOL)- With the departure of Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed in the off-season to the Giants and the Vikings respectfully; both players leaving the Colts this off-season weaken the strength of the current offensive line depth. Chris Reed was the best non-starter in 2021 in his ability to not only fill in for injury and perform at a high level, but he showed that he could be a starter in this league. Reed decided to use his resurgance and signed with the Vikings and become a full time starting offensive guard. With Ballard and the Colts losing two starting caliber offensive guards in the same off-season, the need for interior offensive line depth is drastic compared to last off-season.
- Howerton is someone the Colts had the opportunity to work with at the 2022 Shrine Bowl as Howerton was on the West team. Howerton is a 6’4″ 309 pound offensive lineman for SMU, and he was a four year starter in five years at SMU. Howerton helped lead SMU to have a top 15 or higher ranked scoring offense and passing offense for three years straight. The Mustangs allowed only 1.33 sacks per game in 2021 (17th in the nation) with Howerton’s help. Howeton has been a physical presence for the Mustangs and is very hard to push back with just brute strength. Howerton’s weaknesses comes with his inability to have quality and consistent footwork in both pass and run protection and his trouble with picking up blitz packages and relaying them to his QB. Everything in which Howerton has trouble with, can easily be fixed with coaching, repiition, and film watching. Howerton possesses everything that Ballard would want in a project offensive guard/depth guard, and I could see Ballard reaching for him on day three or signing him as an undrafted free agent.