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Round 2, Pick 47:

John Metchie III, WR, Alabama

Ballard is gaining an interesting rep with day 2s in the draft, he’s not afraid to go after a player with some injury concerns from their collegiate days if he feels their talent is worth it and they fit the Colts needs and system. There have been admittedly mixed results so far, with DE Kemoko Turay, FS Julian Blackmon, & DL Dayo Odeyingbo all fitting this mold. John Metchie III certainly fits as well with his ACL injury in the SEC title game vs Georgia this past December.

 


With such a recent injury, his recovery & medicals will be crucial for his evaluation. While medical science has come a long way in reducing reinjury risk & recovery time, the injury will certainly be something to monitor during his career.

 

When healthy though, John Metchie III possesses an exciting skillset. His speed, agility, and elusiveness flashed after the catch, and his talents thrive in the quick passing game that the Colts have shown to employ. He has a strong competitive toughness through contact so while he might not be the biggest wideout at 6’0, 195 lbs he uses his frame well when needed at the point of contact. On tape he flashes constantly a versatile amount of releases from a variety of spots and speeds. He is a true separator who knows how to fluctuate his immense speed to get the most out of a route. Will run a full route tree very well. His head fakes and arm moves at the tops of routes have shown to bewilder CBs in the SEC. Finds the soft spots in the zone with ease. Will get open at each level of a defense consistently with theses great combination of physical gifts, technical prowess, and football IQ.

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest issue with Metchie III and the one that will make or break him in the pros as much as his injury concerns: his hands. He has body catching tendencies on tape and if he doesn’t get the same level of separation in the pros could get him in trouble. He limits his catch radius and thus hurts his 50-50 ball effectiveness and limits his deep ball effectiveness in particular with locating the ball late. His size and weight are outliers in Ballard’s usual WR preferences in WRs, as he prefers generally bigger WRs with over 200lbs, so his skillset differs from MPJ’s and the other WRs.

 

However with his hands and ball skills, the Colts might have the perfect mentor to make Metchie as complete of a receiver as possible and further hone his technical strengths to the upper echelon of the NFL’s: Reggie Wayne. If Wayne is added to the coaching staff as rumors indicate, he would be able to teach Metchie III his signature ball skills and hands, extending his catch radius and reliability as a playmaker irregardless of passers’ accuracy. Wayne already was a teacher to former Florida International speedster TY Hilton coming out of the draft in 2012 with tremendous success, and could have an opportunity to do so again. Hilton himself could potentially return as well to add another mentor as a fellow speedster and provide depth for the WR corps. If Metchie III’s route running prowess and football IQ is any indication, he is a highly coachable player who should be a quick learner. Should he develop those skills and rebound from his ACL tear, the sky is the limit for John Metchie III.

 

Round 3, Pick 82:

Max Mitchell, LT, Louisiana

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Max Mitchell might not be the biggest OT at just 6’5 299lbs but despite his leaner frame he is a fun prospect to watch. Combining a mauler mentality in the run and strong speed and agility laterally in pass sets. Lining up as a Left Tackle, Guard, and Right Tackle for the Ragin’ Cajuns before settling in on the RT spot, Max allowed only 5 sacks in 3 seasons starting in the Sun Belt Conference. While he has the most experience at Right Tackle, his leaner frame and skills as a pass blocker as well as his prior experience as a LT means he should project well on the blindside in his pro career.

 

 

Mitchell has shown improved footwork and hand usage each season in the pass pro, and coaches have raved about his leadership and discipline. In the Senior Bowl he did a good job in drills and in game keeping his QB clean. He isn’t perfect as his slighter frame does make him suspect to the bull rush move. He seems to be a great fit for zone blocking schemes, though could work in gap and pulling responsibilities as well. He would be an excellent fit for the Colts along the line, with the potential to slide in at Left Tackle long term or at worst case provide high value versatile depth to the interior and exterior of the Line.

 

Round 4, Pick 121:

JT Woods, S, Baylor

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JT “the Heartbreak Kid” Woods has a knack for the ball. With 8 INTs over the past 2 seasons, the long and lanky deep ball safety has shown an impressive range sideline to sideline. At 6’2 188lbs, he has shown to be able to work as a single high & split safety effectively and has been at times used well in run support.

 

 

 

 

The big calling card of JT besides the obvious length is his speed and explosiveness. He has shown the ability to cover ground very quickly in coverage and when he gets INTs he is a threat to run it back. Expect him to test very well with his strong high school & collegiate track background.

 

The Colts need depth at Safety with Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon both injured throughout the 2021 season, missing a combined 17 games. While Khari did return in the season, Blackmon didn’t after suffering a serious Achilles tear. With Blackmon’s injury & his prior collegiate injury history depth is assuredly needed, especially since his skillset isn’t as easily replaced and the Colts should be transitioning to more single high looks. JT fits that role well, and can allow the Colts to have a strong 3 Safety rotation and depth if needed.

Woods isn’t a perfect Safety of course as Inspite of his physical gifts he can be caught flat footed or be faked out by QBs eyes or WR double moves. He still needs to work a bit more in this regard to fine tune his instincts, but he has plenty of physical upside to take a chance on and make up for his mistakes if needed.

 

Round 5 Pick 159:

Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (OH)

 

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Dominique Robinson’s journey as a player is a fascinating one. The 6’4 254 lb Edge started off as a QB in High School but transitioned to WR once he arrived in Miami, until finally transitioning and bulking up into a Defensive end for the 2020 & 2021 seasons. In fact he only has 15 games experience as an edge player, recording 6.5 sacks and 11 Tackles for Loss. Why would a player with such a limited experience at a position be a draftable player?

 

Well looking at him it’s not hard to see at first glance. Starting with his arm length, he measured a wingspan of 82 ⅜ inches which for reference Colts 6’7 tall DT DeForest Buckner has 82 inch wingspan. For an Edge defender that length is ridiculous and Colts GM Chris Ballard loves length along the DL. On top of his length, Dom earned a nod on Feldman’s Freak list with his reported 40 time of around 4.65 seconds, a max bench of 350lb, a 34 inch Vertical, & a strong agility time.

 

 

With a strong athletic upside, the raw pass rusher could be a fun developmental Edge and provide depth for the Colts. His size and reported speed could make him a depth LEO in the defense behind Kwity Paye. With Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Al Quadim Muhammad & Isaac Rochelle all free agents this offseason the depth at the Edge needs to be addressed. On Day 3 of the Draft why not take a shot on a freak athlete project? After having solid production despite limited development and having a strong Senior Bowl against some stiffer competition, Robinson is certainly a name to watch for the Draft.

 

Round 5 Pick 178:

James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

James Mitchell might not have worked out during the combine but on tape there is no question he is a dynamic athlete. The move TE lined up everywhere and performed well when called upon in a variety of roles. Whether it was out wide, as a big slot, an inline TE, a FB, and if needed an emergency QB, Mitchell embodies versatility.

His skill set combines strong vertical threat from nearly anywhere (averaged 16.9 ypr in 2019-2020 seasons) while also delivering as a solid run blocker and even a strong goal line threat on the ground (5 rushing TDs in 2019-2020). While not the biggest TE at 6’4 249lbs, his speed, agility, and ability to be a threat from any spot in an alignment should intrigue the Colts.

However he did not perform well in 2021 in a new role prior to suffering a major knee injury. Because of this he will not receive the same hype post combine as others, but when healthy “The Governor” makes an impact. Well respected by teammates and coaches as a leader and playmaker, Mitchell would be an excellent fit for what the Colts want in their TEs and if healthy could have a good opportunity to out perform his draft slot.

Round 6 Pick 217:

Zander Horvath, RB/FB, Purdue

 

A combine snub, Purdue’s Zander Horvath might not have showcased his athleticism in Lucas Oil Stadium for the combine, but as Big Ten opponents will tell you it is certainly there. So much so he landed on the Feldman’s Freak List:

“He’s 6 feet 1 1/2, 232 pounds and runs the 40 in the 4.4s. He’s clocked a 2.53 20-yard split, timed 4.06 in the short shuttle and also bench pressed 225 pounds more than 30 times.”

-Bruce Feldman From the Athletic

Inspite of the snub, Horvath should fascinate the Colts as a local kid from Mishawaka, IN & a former star at Marion High School has turned into another versatile and physical playmaker. On top of the size, speed, agility and explosiveness of him as an athlete, his ability to be a FB or RB and be a threat through the ground and as a receiver is a fun addition for the Colts.

 

 

 

 

With Marlon Mack possibly leaving as a free agent and Jordan Wilkins being a surprise waive in 2021 the Colts now have very little depth behind star RB Jonathan Taylor & versatile chess piece Nyhiem Hines. Rookie Undrafted Free Agent Deon Jackson was okay in his limited snaps but it is unclear if the Colts would be able to trust him with a solid workload should either Hines or Taylor go down with injury. Worst case scenario Horvath competes with Deon Jackson as the RB3/4. Best case scenario he is the 2nd coming of Kyle Juszczyk as yet another versatile chess piece for Reich to use for the offense + the RB3 for the Colts and possible short yardage back. Might be a vulture for Jonathan Taylor fantasy owners, but for the Colts he can certainly add another dimension & depth to the Colts backfield.

Round 7 Pick 237:

James Houston IV, LB/EDGE, Jackson State

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The end of Day 3 of the draft is the perfect time to take a shot on players who can fill out your roster at need positions while having enough upside to see what they can develop into. Jackson State’s James Houston IV certainly has upside that I am interested in seeing if it comes to fruition.

The former Florida LB transferred to Jackson State to be coached by Hall of Famer Deion Jackson and transformed into the most dominant defender on his defense with a position switch to Edge. As a pass rusher, Houston feasted on FCS competition for his HBCU. While strong production against lower competition is encouraging, he was able to display consistent pressure and big hits in the East West Shrine Bowl as well. Houston IV was a constant menace to OL there with speed and bend off the edge against stiffer competition.

 

 

Houston is still learning the position and showing his skills off the edge for only 1 year at a smaller FCS school will lower him on draft boards, he has shown considerable growth and could fit the new Gus Bradley scheme well off the edge. Depth is sorely needed at DE behind Paye & Dayo, and adding several project speed rushers late in the draft could create a competition that nets the Colts a surprise contributor. For a 7th round pick I would be more than thrilled to take that shot.


Round 7 Pick 238:

Kuony Deng, LB, Cal

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Kuony Deng is a unique physical specimen as a 6’6 250lb LB. Possessing great length, Deng is known for his game breaking ability. A star of Netflix’s Last Chance U, Deng journeyed from JUCO to Cal and dominated in 2019. But unfortunately due to the COVID shortening Cal’s season to just 4 games as well as a September leg injury he has little to no tape over the last 2 years.

 

 

 

 

His 2019 tape is phenomenal, showing power, sideline to sideline speed, and a fearsome ability as a downhill defender. He finished with 121 tackles , 7.5 TFLs, 3 sacks, and 8 passes defended. While he does have the ability to cover with his long arms causing havoc in middle zones he still needs to develop in man situations and route understanding. However should be he used as a downhill SAM backer he could flourish in a rotational role. Should anything happen to Zaire Franklin or Matt Adams he will be a valuable blitzer to provide depth on the strong side. Should his medical check out, a team should be willing to use a day 3 pick to take a shot at the unique playmaking LB.

 

 

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