Colts GM Chris Ballard is about to enter Draft #7 with the Colts on April 27th. With his drafting acumen being his most consistent method of adding talent to the Colts, here’s to ranking Chris Ballard’s draft classes.
Ranking Chris Ballard’s Draft Classes
Ballard Success Rate by Draft Day:
*66.6% Above Average Picks (over 50%ile)
*33.3% Big Hit% (over 75%ile)
*66.6% Above Average Picks
*38.9% Big Hit%
*64.5% Above Average Picks
*41.9% Big Hit%
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) April 11, 2023
Too Soon To Rank: 2021 Draft
- Round 1, Pick 21 | DE Kwity Paye
- Round 2, Pick 54 | DL Dayo Odeyingbo
- Round 4, Pick 127 | TE Kylen Granson
- Round 5, Pick 165 | S Shawn Davis
- Round 6, Pick 218 | QB Sam Ehlinger
- Round 7, Pick 229 | WR Mike Strachan
- Round 7, Pick 248 | OL Will Fries
‘Happy to say I’m going to make you a millionaire’ | With The Next Pick – 2021 Colts Draft Series (Episode 4) – YouTube https://t.co/fZnJXmNhtX
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) May 6, 2021
There is an old saying in NFL circles: it takes 3 years to properly evaluate a draft classes’ impact. Taking that to heart, it is too soon to rank the last 2 Draft Classes. However, both have notable players worthy of being highlighted.
The Early “Hits”
The first 3 picks of the Colts 2021 Draft Class have shown considerable growth from their rookie years and could be poised for bigger years in 2023. Kwity Paye went from 4 to 6 sacks despite missing 5 games in 2022, while becoming a more consistent pass rusher and run stopper. Dayo Odeyingbo got 5 sacks along the DL in 2022.
Notable (young) contributors for the foreseeable future (per PFF):
– Kwity Paye upped his sack total from his rookie year (4) to 6 in ‘22 despite missing 5 games + 34 pressures
– Dayo Odeyingbo bursted onto the scene in his sophomore campaign with 6 sacks & 25 total pressures pic.twitter.com/JknZbvl8e3
— Noah Compton (@nerlens_) April 10, 2023
Kylen Granson continued to progress as a move YAC specialist TE with 302 yards, turning his low 6.5 average depth of targets into 1st Downs 42.5% of time.
The final 4 picks of the 2021 class have had less impact thus far in their careers. Two of these late Day 3 have returned some value. 7th round OL Will Fries saw 9 starts at Right Guard in 2022 with mixed results (decent run blocking, disappointing pass blocking). QB Sam Ehlinger was taken in the 6th round as a backup QB and started 3 games in 2022. He threw for 573 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, and rushed for 87 yards.
The Early “Misses”
Safety Shawn Davis from Round 5 didn’t make the 2021 roster cuts. He was signed and waived as a reserve in Green Bay in 2021. He hasn’t signed elsewhere since. Michael Strachan has bounced from Practice Squad to the back of the depth chart as a developmental 7th-round WR. Neither carved out an active rotational role on the Colts, but considering their Round 5 & 7 costs expectations were already limited.
So far the 2021 Class isn’t the most wildly successful of Ballard’s drafts, but is a pretty good draft class by NFL standards. With 2 promising young pass rusher rounding into form, a good rotational receiving TE, & a backup QB and OL, the draft returns are solid. There is still room for growth entering Year 3.
Too Soon To Rank: 2022 Draft Class
- Round 2, Pick 53 | WR Alec Pierce
- Round 3, Pick 73 | TE Jelani Woods
- Round 3, Pick 77 | LT Bernhard Raimann
- Round 3, Pick 96 | S Nick Cross
- Round 5, Pick 159 | DT Eric Johnson II
- Round 6, Pick 192 | TE Andrew Ogletree
- Round 6, Pick 216 | DT Curtis Brooks
- Round 7, Pick 239 | LB Rodney Thomas II
— The Blue Stable (@TheBlue_Stable) May 7, 2022
If the 2021 Class was too soon to rank, the 2022 Class definitely is as well. While it is still very early, this batch of players could be a big boost to the Colts going forward. Despite no 1st round pick in this class, Ballard got 3 10-12 game rookie starters who showed promise. Add in a few rotational players with high ceilings, and this class could end up as a top 3 of Ballard’s first 6 drafts.
The Early “Hits”
- Alec Pierce: Had an inconsistent rookie season, in large part due to disappointing QB play. In spite of that, he racked up 593 receiving yards and 2 TDs on just 41 catches as a rookie. The deep threat from Cincinnati could be in for a bigger 2023 season. With new Head Coach Shane Steichen shifting to a more vertical Offense, a new QB, more targets to go around with Parris Campbell leaving, and Pierce’s own growth, there is a lot of optimism for a breakout Year 2.
I get that this is a joke but in actuality Alec Pierce has:
The Speed of DeSean Jackson (4.4)
The Frame of AJ Green
The Hands of Davante Adams (same drop % w/ similar ADOT in 2022)
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) February 28, 2023
- Jelani Woods: Another potential beneficiary of the head coach change, Jelani Woods had a promising rookie year at TE. The freak athlete TE recorded 312 receiving yards & 3 TDs in a rotational role. With TEs usually taking 3 years to break out in receiving on top of Woods being considered more of a “raw” prospect, that production has to be encouraging to start his career.
JELANI WOODS WITH HIS 2nd TD of his career. (Oh and his 2nd TD today) pic.twitter.com/TubQnVU1mQ
— Colts Coverage (@Colts_Coverage) September 25, 2022
- Bernhard Raimann: Struggled early on in 2022, but improved tremendously as the year progressed. He allowed only 18 pressures in Weeks 9-18 once he took over full-time as the starting LT. A powerful run blocker and improved pass blocker, Raimann’s development on the blindside will be huge for the Colts’ front. If the Colts found a reliable LT in the middle of round 3, Ballard got an incredible value.
9 rookie tackles were regular starters in 2022 – only one had a higher @PFF pass block grade than Bernhard Raimann. And Raimann’s 27 pressures allowed were tied with the Panthers’ Ikem Ekwonu for fewest in that group. pic.twitter.com/m9ZbhzLAxi
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) January 18, 2023
- Rodney Thomas II: The best value pick of the 2022 Class so far has to be Rodney Thomas II. The Safety from Yale took a big role in the rotation as early as Week 3. Despite veterans like Rodney McLeod and Julian Blackmon on the roster, Thomas II impressed enough to start 10 games. With 4 INTs, his playmaking ability was a spark for the Colts Defense. Finding a potential starting Safety at the end of Round 7 is a tremendous steal for the Colts.
Rodney Thomas II (@Rodney_Thomas26) in 2022 for the Colts:
-Seventh-round draft pick
-6 pass deflections (tied for 3rd on the Colts)
-4 interceptions (led the Colts)
-played all 17 games
— The Colts Cast (@thecoltscast) February 23, 2023
The Early “Misses”
- Nick Cross: The only Day 2 pick who didn’t earn a regular starting/rotational role as a rookie was Nick Cross. The Maryland Safety did start the first 2 games of the season. However, Colts coaches made a switch in Week 3 to emphasize Rodney McLeod, Julian Blackmon, & fellow rookie Rodney Thomas II. From Weeks 3-18, Cross was on Defense in just 6 snaps, predominantly being used on Special Teams. A bit disappointing considering his preseason performance building some hype, his draft cost (late 2022 3rd + Colts 2023 3rd to trade up), and the opportunity with Khari Willis retired and Rodney McLeod working his way back from an offseason knee procedure to start the season. However, he is still only 21 years old and one of the youngest players in his entire NFL Draft class. Time will tell on his development.
Gus Bradley said that Nick Cross was a young kid thinking too much early on last year and needed to sit and learn behind Rodney McLeod. They saw some more of the light go on late in the season.
Cross has a chance to start with McLeod gone.
— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) April 19, 2023
- The non-Rodney Thomas II Day 3 picks so far haven’t received much playing time for a variety of reasons. 6th Round TE Andrew Ogletree out of Youngstown State suffered a knee injury in August that caused him to miss his entire rookie season. A Training Camp standout, there is hope for him to make an impact in the TE rotation in 2023. Fellow 6th Rounder DT Curtis Brooks didn’t make the active roster and spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad. Eric Johnson II earned spot snaps in the DT rotation behind DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. He registered 3 tackles in his limited role.
— Colts Militia (@coltsmilitia_) August 4, 2022
4th | 2019 Draft Class
- Round 2, Pick 34 | CB Rock Ya-Sin
- Round 2, Pick 49 | DE Ben Banogu
- Round 2, Pick 59 | WR Parris Campbell
- Round 3, Pick 89 | LB Bobby Okereke
- Round 4, Pick 109 | S Khari Willis
- Round 5, Pick 144 | CB Marvell Tell III
- Round 5, Pick 165 | LB EJ Speed
- Round 6, Pick 199 | DE Gerri Green
- Round 7, Pick 240 | T Jackson Barton
- Round 7, Pick 246 | C Javon Patterson
The 2019 Colts Draft class is a weird one to rank. Some of what happened to these players couldn’t have been predicted by any talent evaluator at GM. From early retirements, to being traded for a potential top pass rusher, to sitting out an entire season due to a pandemic, to a player who was healthy all of his collegiate career suffering 3 season-derailing injuries to start his career. In part because of these unpredictable circumstances, the 2019 Colts Draft Class has only 1 player retained after his rookie contract expired: EJ Speed. Due to the lack of long-term impact for the Colts, I unfortunately have to rank this class last among eligible Ballard Draft Classes. At least this draft provided 2 of the most entertaining pre-pick moments in Colts history.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 22, 2021
Still get a kick out of Reggie Wayne jawing at Titans fans at the draft in 2019.
(For what it’s worth, Colts have won 9 of their last 11 in this stadium)pic.twitter.com/Nhr3rvzshs
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 12, 2020
- Bobby Okereke: Was in the Strongside LB rotation his first 2 seasons, starting 16 games in that span. Flashed enough to be trusted to take over the MLB spot once Anthony Walker Jr. left in Free Agency. Wracked up 283 tackles, 188 solos, 9 TFLs, 9 PDs, 2 INTs, 2 FRs, and 1 sack in the 2 years since as a full-time starter. Highly reliable LB who was one of the Colts best coverage LBs. Earned a 4 year, $40m contract with the New York Giants earlier this offseason. Not bad for a 3rd Round LB. Would love to see if he lives up to Pat McAfee’s draft podium prophecy.
— Charlie Clifford (@char_cliff) December 19, 2021
- Khari Willis: From 2019-2021 Khari Willis was Mr. Dependable in the back of the Colts Defense. Starting 33 games, Willis produced 219 tackles, 161 solos, 7 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 11 PDs, 4 INTs, 1 FFs, & 1 FR. The 4th Rounder from Michigan State retired before the 2022 season to pursue a career in ministry. His NFL career wasn’t long, but he was still a good pick by Ballard.
News: In a bit of a stunner, Colts safety Khari Willis is retiring. His plan is to devote himself to ministry fulltime. A fourth-round draft pick in 2019 out of Michigan State, Willis has started 33 games over the past three seasons, piling up 219 tackles and four interceptions.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 15, 2022
- EJ Speed: Ballard shocked a lot of pundits by taking Speed in Round 5. Unheralded out of Tarleton State, EJ Speed grinded out his first 2 seasons as a Special Teams standout. However, in 2021 he made his first start on Christmas vs the Cardinals in place of an injured Shaquille Leonard. He impressed with 9 tackles (8 solo) and a Pass Deflection. He carried that momentum and in 2022 earned himself a regular rotational role. 5 starts and many more rotational snaps later, Speed wracked up 63 tackles, 37 solos, 7 TFLs, 1 sack, 2 FFs, and 2 PDs in 2022. With Okereke in New York and Leonard working back from injury Speed has an opportunity in 2023 for his biggest role yet. For a 5th round cost, Speed is well on his way to being a diamond in the rough find by Ballard.
EJ SPEED. #ForTheShoe
— NFL (@NFL) October 16, 2022
The Rock Ya-Sin Quandary
To put a Hit or Bust label on Rock Ya-Sin seems too strong on either end. His first 2 seasons were marred with inconsistency in coverage. He allowed a few big games and was a little too grabby at the top of routes. There were brief flashes of his potential, but he still allowed 69.7% and 67.2% completion % on his targets in his first 2 seasons as well as committing 13 flags during that span. His 2021 season was a breakout year for the Temple product, as he allowed just 53.3% completion % and a career-low 217 yards with just 2 penalties committed. Rock Ya-Sin had broken out in a big way and was flashing long-term CB1 potential.
However, as of right now, that is all Ya-Sin has produced for the Colts. His time with the Colts as of now has come to an end after the 2022 off-season swap of him for pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. He had a slight regression last season from his career year in 2021, but still showed high-end CB2, low-end CB1 production before landing on the IR after 11 games. Still a free agent this offseason, there are murmurs that he could return to the Colts. But that has not come to pass as of this writing. Based on what he produced for the Colts, it is hard to quantify if he fits a “Bust” or “Hit” label. Especially since he was drafted as a high 2nd rounder. So instead, he gets his own category as a quandary of an evaluation.
- Parris Campbell: Parris Campbell had a breakout season with 623 yards and 3 TDs in 2022. He established himself as one of the better separators in the NFL according to Next Gen Stats. However, the 33 missed games and only 320 yards and 2 TDs in his first 3 seasons combined loom large. Especially at a 2nd round draft cost. While Ballard had no way to know about those injuries occurring as Parris was healthy in College, the lack of availability and production in 2019-2021 hurt Parris enough to be considered a bust for the Colts. Now he is a New York Giant with the opportunity to continue to establish himself as a healthy playmaker in 2023.
We had Parris Campbell on the mic for his TD. 👀 pic.twitter.com/Vg62TcqieV
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 25, 2022
- Ben Banogu: 4 years, 0 starts, 2.5 sacks. Very lackluster production for a 2nd round Edge. Colts never seemed to find a plan for him. Initially drafted as a LB, Banogu quickly shifted back to DE in year 1. Despite that and 2 different DCs, Banogu never earned consistent playing time in Indy.
- Marvell Tell III: Tell had solid rotational production as a rookie in 2019. However, after choosing to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID-19, he never regained that momentum. Tell was brought along for the 2021-2022 Colts Training Camps, but never made it past roster cuts. He was signed to the Bengals Practice Squad in 2022 where he remains as of now.
- Gerri Green, Jackson Barton, and Javon Patterson: None of these three took a snap for the Colts and have combined for 1o NFL game appearances elsewhere.
3rd | 2017 Draft Class
- Round 1, Pick 15 | S Malik Hooker
- Round 2, Pick 46 | CB Quincy Wilson
- Round 3, Pick 80 | DE Tarell Basham
- Round 4, Pick 137 | T Zach Banner
- Round 4, Pick 143 | RB Marlon Mack
- Round 4, Pick 144 | DT Grover Stewart
- Round 5, Pick 158 | CB Nate Hairston
- Round 5, Pick 161 | LB Anthony Walker Jr.
Ballard’s 1st Class was arguably his worst class in terms of Colts impact. None of his first 4 picks as the Colts GM returned value for the team. However, 3 late-round picks absolutely returned value and some of his earlier misses did end up making impacts elsewhere. Likely drafting for a lame-duck HC and shifting to new schemes in year 2 didn’t help several players in this class.
- Grover Stewart: “Big Grove” has been a big help to the Colts Defense over 2019-2022. He might not always show up on the stat sheet, but his impact as the team’s 1T shouldn’t be underrated. His first 2 years were spent as a rotational backup behind Al Woods at NT. But since taking over in 2019, he has been an anchor for the Colts D. One of the best run-stuffing NTs in the NFL and has gradually improved as a pass rusher with 4 sacks in 2022. Have to love the value of the pick in round 4.
We need to start talking about Grover Stewart in that upper echelon of 1-T/0-T defensive tackles in the NFL.
Athletic, powerful, agile… He’s a top tier run defender in the league. 4 Stops and a QB hit on Sunday pic.twitter.com/fVz92AAUNX
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) September 13, 2022
- Marlon Mack: Initially a backup RB to Frank Gore as a rookie, Marlon Mack had to bide his time to be a starter like Grover Stewart. But in 2018-2019, Mack was the Cots lead back and was the most productive RB they’d had in years until that point. 2,184 total yards and 18 TDs in 2 years was really good production. However, a devastating season-ending injury in 2020 changed the trajectory of his career. Despite that setback, Marlon Mack continued to impact the Colts as a mentor to new lead back Jonathan Taylor and was credited as a big reason for Taylor’s 2nd half of his rookie season breakout in 2020. While Mack’s time as a starting RB and Colt has passed, his impact on the Colts shouldn’t be underrated on the field and in the RB room.
Marlon Mack said 🌀🌀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 17, 2019
- Anthony Walker Jr.: Another pick that the Colts had to be patient with for results, Walker Jr. started as a rotational backup LB in 2017. But from 2018-2020, Walker Jr. took over the MLB job for the Colts and was a leader for the team. He recorded 343 tackles, 229 solos, 19 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, and 2 FRs in his time with the Colts. The Northwestern Wildcat was a valuable member of the Colts, but with Bobby Okereke showing promise the Colts let Walker walk in Free Agency. He had another strong season in 2021 for the Browns before injuries started catching up to him. He played in just 3 games in 2022 and will return to the Browns on a 1-year deal.
Colts free-agent LB Anthony Walker is visiting the Browns today-Adam Schefter
Here’s some tape from 2020: pic.twitter.com/gaQp5XaPy8
— Tattoo Baker 🎥✨ (@QB1TATT00) March 18, 2021
- Malik Hooker: Malik Hooker was a high-upside first pick for the Colts under Ballard. A pure sideline-to-sideline ballhawk, Hooker was considered one of the best coverage safeties in college. If healthy, there was little doubt Hooker could be one of the best deep ball hawk Safeties in the NFL. The problem in the NFL: Hooker kept getting injured. He played just 36 games for the Colts in 4 seasons, including just 2 in his final season in 2020. While on the field, Hooker was a good pass coverage FS but had some issues in the run. He had 7 INTs and 11 PDs with the Colts. After he left the Colts, Hooker has stayed relatively healthy as a solid rotational 3rd Safety for the Cowboys (31 games, 9 starts). However, for a mid 1st round pick for the Colts, Hooker was ultimately a disappointment considering his hype and lack of availability.
Malik Hooker with ONE HAND 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 8, 2019
- Quincy Wilson: Quincy Wilson was a player who was adversely affected by the Colts coaching change from Pagano’s Defense to Eberflus’. In his rookie season under Pagano’s man-heavy scheme, Wilson thrived with 6 PDs and 1 INT in 7 games. But in Eberflus’ zone-heavy scheme, Wilson felt lost. He played 22 games and started 5 from 2018-2019, but allowed 39 completions on 58 targets, 448 yards, and 3 TDs to just 2 PDs and 0 INTs. When the Colts traded him to the Jets in 2020 for a 6th-round pick, Wilson said it was the best day of his life and that the Jets unlike the Colts “Coach you to make plays, not cover grass”. Since then Wilson has been unable to get a starting spot in the NFL and has bounced from the Jets, Giants, Dolphins, and Steelers Practice Squads. For a 2nd round pick, Wilson didn’t turn out like the Colts would have hoped.
- Tarell Basham: Bashem was another early pick that didn’t fit the Colts new Defensive scheme under Eberflus. As a rookie, he played a smaller rotational role for the Colts in 15 games, but still got 2 sacks, 4 QB Hits, and a FF in a 3-4 scheme. However, with Eberflus, he was relegated as a back-of-the-roster player before being waived and signed by the Jets. He turned in pretty solid seasons from 2019-2021 with the Jets and Cowboys as a spot-started DL, but his impact with the Colts was minimal, especially for a 3rd round pick.
- Zach Banner: Banner was the biggest player in the 2017 draft at 6’8 358 lbs, but his impact on the Colts was the smallest in this draft class. Banner didn’t make it after the final roster cutdowns his rookie year and was claimed by the Browns as a backup T. He bounced in and out of the Browns and Panthers rosters in 2018 without seeing the field at all. In 2019 he played 14 games (started 1) for the Steelers and did well in run blocking but struggled in pass pro. However, Banner’s impact was absolutely nothing for the Colts as Ballard’s 1st Day 3 pick in Indy.
Zach Banner’s facial reaction when Mason Rudolph told him that he was good just seconds after being knocked out cold was probably the highlight of his career.
— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) December 17, 2022
2nd | 2020 Draft Class
- Round 2, Pick 34 | WR Michael Pittman Jr.
- Round 2, Pick 41 | RB Jonathan Taylor
- Round 3, Pick 85 | S Julian Blackmon
- Round 4, Pick 122 | QB Jacob Eason
- Round 5, Pick 149 | OL Danny Pinter
- Round 6, Pick 193 | DT Robert Windsor
- Round 6, Pick 211 | CB Isaiah Rodgers Sr.
- Round 6, Pick 212 | WR Dezmon Patmon
- Round 6, Pick 213 | LB Jordan Glasgow
The 2nd best Draft in Ballard’s tenure is easily the 2020 class. Despite no Round 1 Pick due to the Buckner trade, the Colts hitting on every Day 2 pick was huge. The Offense got much-needed sparks with MPJ as a WR1 and JT as the 2021 rushing leader. The Colts found two secondary starters in Blackmon and Rodgers later. Danny Pinter proved to be a solid rotational C and could be the successor to Ryan Kelly. With no true misses outside of a Round 4 backup QB and 3 Round 6 fliers, the hit rate of 5/9 is really good.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 25, 2021
- Michael Pittman Jr.: MPJ has been a solid WR1 over the last 2 seasons. In spite of inconsistent-poor play from Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and Sam Ehlinger throwing him the ball MPJ has produced in the last 2 years. 187 catches, 69.26% catch rate, 2,007 yards, and 10 TDs is solid 2-year production considering the circumstances. If given better QB play in 2023, MPJ could ascend to another level of productivity.
Seriously, conspiracy theorist’s are everywhere… pic.twitter.com/9Y1PrvxjjH
— Lawrence Owen (@Colts_Law) October 26, 2021
- Jonathan Taylor: The Colts traded up in Round 2 to get Taylor, and boy did it pay off. 4,643 total yards & 36 TDs in just 860 touches and 3 seasons? Yes please. His rookie year started slow but had a big breakout down the stretch thanks to Marlon Mack’s mentorship. 2021 Jonathan Taylor was the best RB in the NFL and OPOY runner-up with 2,171 yards and 20 TDs. 2022 was a down year with Taylor hampered by injuries for the first time in his career (missed essentially 7 games). Despite injuries and poor OL play, Taylor still had 1,004 yards and 4 TDs in 10 games. A top tier RB in Rd2? Colts will take that. The luxury pick turned into a true hit.
JONATHAN TAYLOR PUT THE NAIL IN THE ⚰️ pic.twitter.com/hdj9jdr5ny
— PFF (@PFF) December 19, 2021
- Julian Blackmon: Blackmon was a bit of a risky pick in the 3rd round. The S out of Utah was coming off of an ACL injury in college and his week 1 availability was in jeopardy. However, he played as early as week 2 and turned into a reliable Starting Safety. With 31 starts in 3 seasons, 9 Pass Deflections, 3 INTs, 2 FFs, and 7 TFLs, Blackmon has made an impact in the pass and vs the run. Now he enters 2023 as the most experienced S in the room and will likely rotate his starting job with 2022 draft picks Rodney Thomas II and Nick Cross.
JULIAN BLACKMON CALLED GAME!!
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 18, 2020
- Isaiah Rodgers Sr.: Rodgers is the best value player in this 2020 draft class. Initially used as primarily a returner, Rodgers has shown to be one of the better kick returners in the NFL with 27 yards per return and 1 TD. However, over the years he has slowly risen up the depth chart at CB. He was used in 2021-2022 as the CB3/4 on the Depth Chart, and at times was used as the CB2 due to injuries and poor play from the starters ahead of him. Playing 32 games and starting 10 over the last 2 seasons, Rodgers allowed 55 catches on 86 targets (63.9%), for 532 yards and 5 TDs with 3 INTs and 10 PDs for a passer rating of 86 when targeted.
Isaiah Rodgers: 36.1 passer rating allowed against in man coverage last season
Lowest among all CB’s🔥 pic.twitter.com/0htKAZxmRe
— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) March 4, 2022
- Danny Pinter: The local kid out of Ball State has turned into a solid Day 3 value. Pinter has been a rotational iOL in his career. His best production has been at C filling in for Ryan Kelly, but he did have extensive (albeit poor) snaps in 2022 at RG. A solid run blocker, Pinter can thrive in both gap and zone concepts. However, he still needs some work in pass protection. Ultimately getting a decent rotational lineman in round 5 is a solid pick.
- Jacob Eason: The only miss in the first 4 rounds of this draft class, Jacob Eason has been a relative non-factor so far in his career. He received no playing time in 2020 behind Rivers and Brissett. Then in 2021 he played in garbage time of one game, throwing 5 passes, completing 2 for 25 yards and throwing 1 pick. Eason didn’t make the final Colts roster in 2022 and bounced to and from the Panthers and 49ers back of the depth charts and practice squads. He did attempt 5 more passes for the Panthers in 2022, with 3 completed for 59 yards and 1 INT. To date he has yet to throw his first NFL TD.
Jacob Eason goes to Parris. ✈️
📺 FOX/NFLN pic.twitter.com/vnfW4p70sb
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 15, 2021
- Robert Windsor: 6th Round reserve DT who bounced to and from the Colts practice squad and reserves of the roster. Recorded 2 tackles. Has not been on an NFL roster since his rookie year.
- Dezmon Patmon: Patmon like many late-round picks has bounced to and from practice squads and back of rosters. He has recorded 4 catches on 10 targets for the Colts, wracking up 45 receiving yards and 1 TD. He is currently on the Bills Practice Squad.
- Jordan Glasgow: A special teams LB who was used a lot in return coverage and blocking. He made 15 tackles and 10 solo with the Colts on Special Teams from 2020-2021. He was waived after 2021 and has yet to sign on an NFL roster since.
1st | 2018 Draft Class
- Round 1, Pick 6 | G Quenton Nelson
- Round 2, Pick 36 | LB Shaquille Leonard
- Round 2, Pick 37 | T Braden Smith
- Round 2, Pick 52 | DE Kemoko Turay
- Round 2, Pick 64 | DL Tyquan Lewis
- Round 4, Pick 104 | RB Nyheim Hines
- Round 5, Pick 159 | WR Daurice Fountain
- Round 5, Pick 169 | RB Jordan Wilkins
- Round 6, Pick 185 | WR Deon Cain
- Round 7, Pick 221 | LB Matthew Adams
- Round 7, Pick 235 | LB Zaire Franklin
Ballard’s best draft class is one of the better ones of the last 10 drafts for any NFL team. 7/11 Picks were hits, and 3 of the misses were in no small part due to injuries. Of the hits the Colts got 4 multi-year starters and 6 combined 1st Team All-Pro Seasons. Gaining 2 of the best players in the NFL at their positions, a bookend tackle, an electric offensive and special teams weapon, a reliable change of pace back, a special teams standout, and one of the 2022 tackle leaders is not a bad haul at all. An absolute A+ Draft.
Just thinking of our 2018 Draft class. pic.twitter.com/tjeqz0wJEX
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 27, 2021
- Quenton Nelson: Despite being a guard drafted 6th overall, Nelson has turned into a value. From 2018-2020, one could make the case that no Guard was better in the NFL (Zach Martin being the only legitimate competition for that title all 3 years). He was rewarded as a 3x 1st Team All-Pro, the 1st OL since 1962 to do so in his first 3 seasons. However, he has regressed in the last 2 seasons in part due to injuries, while still being a Pro Bowl G each of those years. In total, he has allowed just 104 pressures and 9 sacks (5 of which in 2022) in 3,113 pass-blocking snaps in his career. All while also being a devastating blocker vs the run. Hopefully, he returns to his earlier form in 2023, as that would immensely help the next Colts QB.
Throwback to Quenton Nelson’s “screaming block” that got him fined $26K after it went viral 🤣 pic.twitter.com/WNs6wJQf7Z
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) August 18, 2022
- Shaquille Leonard: Despite being considered by some to be “The worst pick in the 2018 Draft”, Leonard has turned in one heckuva career. He has 549 tackles, 351 solos, 30 TFL, 15 Sacks, 17 FFs, 7 FRs, 12, INTS, and 31 PDs in spite of missing 21 games due to injury (including nearly all of 2022). A 3x 1st Team All-Pro LB and 1x 2nd Team All-Pro LB, when healthy Leonard is one of the best defensive playmakers around. The only problem has been health of course. Leonard is working back from his 2022 season-ending injury right now, and if he returns healthy and back to form he will be a big boost to the Colts D in 2023.
Darius Leonard Vs Madden 23’s #1 LB… pic.twitter.com/xQrOx94zE2
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) July 21, 2022
- Braden Smith: Braden Smith might not be as decorated as his previous 2018 draft classmates, but his impact has also been significant for the Colts. The collegiate Guard from Auburn has turned into a perennial top-10 RT in Indy. So far he has allowed just 150 pressures and 21 sacks at RT in 2,731 pass-blocking snaps in his 5-year, 72 game career. Combine that with stout strongside run blocking, and Braden Smith’s value in the 2nd round has been really good.
Braden Smith pass-blocking stats in 2020:
🔹0 sacks allowed
— PFF (@PFF) July 28, 2021
- Nyheim Hines: Hines’ position may be a RB, but his value has been used in a variety of ways. The versatile playmaker out of NC State has been used as a RB, WR, and returner throughout his career. The lightning-quick Hines has 4 returning TDs and 1,832 return yards in his career. Combine that with his 2,980 yards from scrimmage and 18 offensive TDs on just 546 career touches, and it’s apparent Hines can do damage in so many phases of the game. He was traded in the middle of the 2022 season to the Buffalo Bills, but for his 4.5 years of dynamic play for the Colts he has to be a hit at a 4th-round value.
All Nyheim Hines does is catch TDs and land front flips. 🤸♂️
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 1, 2020
- Jordan Wilkins: Wilkins is another useful depth RB drafted in 2018 for the Colts. While he wasn’t quite the multipurpose weapon that Hines was, he found use as a solid rotational RB. On the ground, Wilkins has run for 1,009 yards and 4 TDs for the Colts in just 208 carries (4.9 ypc). A solid spot starter RB who has been a good change of pace back, Wilkins has produced efficiently enough when called upon to be a 5th-round hit.
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) September 16, 2019
- Matthew Adams: Adams has been a pretty good contributor for the Colts. Predominately a Special Teams contributor, Adams has had some rotational and spot (12) starts in the NFL. 81 tackles, 8 TFLs, 1 FF, and 1 FR is solid production for a 7th-round downhill LB and ST player. He played 2018-2021 for the Colts and 2022 followed Eberflus to Chicago.
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) December 19, 2021
- Zaire Franklin: “Ziggy” for most of his time as a Colt had a similar level of production and role as Matt Adams as a rotational LB and ST standout. However, in 2022 with Shaquille Leonard out for most of the season, he racked up a franchise record 167 tackles, 102 solos, 12 TFLs, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, & 6 PDs in his first full season as a starter. Getting that level of production in one year from a late-round 7 pick is an incredible value. He likely will continue to get an expanded role in 2023 with Bobby Okereke in New York and Leonard recovering from his prior injury.
Zaire Franklin 🔥🔥🔥
— Darius Butler (@DariusJButler) November 20, 2022
- Kemoko Turay: Turay brought a good amount of juice to the Colts’ pass rush when healthy. His pressure rates of 14.8% for all of 2018 and 22.9% for the first 5 weeks of 2019 ranked 8th and 2nd respectively. He rushed the passer well in college at Rutgers so that was expected. However, his durability concerns also followed him. A major ankle injury forced Turay out for the remainder of 2019 and until the final 7 games of 2020. His 2021 season saw him set a career high in sacks with 5.5 in 13 games. Turay fell short of his career high in pressures, as his pass rush didn’t return to prior levels of consistency. In 2022 he left for San Fran, where he bounced from the practice squad to the active roster, ultimately recording 1 tackle. While he did flash upside, 12 sacks and 55 pressures in 4 seasons for a 2nd round pass rush specialist just doesn’t meet expectations.
Did Kemoko Turay for the Indianapolis Colts break his leg??? pic.twitter.com/aRwak3ySdj
— JAiHAWKFLY (@JAiHAWKFLY) October 7, 2019
- Tyquan Lewis: Similar to his 2018 draftmate Turay, Tyquan Lewis has struggled with staying healthy in the pros. Unlike Turay, Lewis didn’t have any major injuries prior to being drafted. Lewis dealt with injuries early on with a toe injury, missing the 1st half of his rookie year. Injuries popped up again in 2019 as he missed multiple games with an ankle injury. In his only year fully healthy in 2020, Lewis recorded 4 sacks and 22 pressures as a rotational DL. From 2021-2022 Lewis’ seasons have followed this script: a solid start to the season and midway through of one of his best games of the year at the halfway point of the season, he suffers a season-ending injury. If there is such a thing as a football god, they have been cruel to Tyquan. Lewis is currently on a 1-year deal with the Colts, so unlike Turay, he is still with the team. However, 9.5 sacks and 61 pressures in 5 seasons doesn’t meet expectations for a 2nd round pass rusher.
How impressive was Tyquan Lewis (@PrimeTime_Lewis) Sunday in Detroit?
Per @Colts, Lewis became only the ninth player this season to record 3 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2.0 TFL, and one pass defensed in a single game.
— Charlie Clifford (@char_cliff) November 2, 2020
- Daurice Fountain: 5th-round WRs usually have a bit of a hill to climb to earn reps in the NFL. The WR position is highly competitive. Sadly Fountain never seemed to earn a role with the Colts. Predominantly a practice squad player in his career. He has recorded 2 catches on 3 targets for 23 yards in his career and is currently on the Chicago Bears Practice Squad.
- Deon Cain: For a brief moment, Deon Cain captured the hearts of Colts nation. He was a training camp star in his rookie year, wowing fans with highlight catches. Unfortunately his rookie year never truly began as he suffered a devastating ACL tear in the 1st preseason game. His 2019 rehab was met with plenty of hype by fans and the team. But in Cain’s 2019 season, he had just 4 catches on his 14 targets for 52 yards with the Colts before he was released. He was signed by the Steelers and recorded 5 catches on 6 targets for 72 yards. Since then he has been a practice squad staple.