After the excitement of the first wave of free agency and the trades for Ryan and Ngakoue, the last few weeks have been quieter for the Colts. Indianapolis has made some free agency depth signings in Armani Watts and Rodney McLeod, but once-anticipated big moves for players like Tyrann Mathieu or Odell Beckham Jr. now seem unlikely.
Chris Ballard will undoubtedly continue to make moves until the start of the season, but the focus of fans and the front office has shifted to the draft. Ballard will feel comfortable focusing on the draft; it’s where he has made his best moves and earned his reputation. The core of this Colts team was built in the 2018 draft, and the 2020 class yielded a lot of talent, including Blackmon, Pinter, Rodgers, and notably, the two offensive stars in Pittman and Taylor. That 2020 draft also illustrates what Ballard can achieve without a first-round pick, which was traded to acquire DeForest Buckner.
Chris Ballard has some significant needs to address in the draft, but the roster already contains a lot of talent. Having seven players named to the Pro Bowl meant little when the team missed the playoffs, but it still bodes well for the future. We also shouldn’t underestimate the benefit to rookies playing alongside Quenton Nelson or Kenny Moore II.
There appears to be a broad consensus as to what needs Indianapolis must prioritize in the draft. Wide receiver must be at or near the top of the list. As good as Pittman has become, the production of other wide receivers wasn’t good enough last season. There is room for growth from Dulin, Patmon, and Strachan, and we can all (once again) hope Campbell is healthy this season. But it’s clear the Colts can’t run it back with last year’s WR corps minus Pascal and potentially TY Hilton.
The introduction of Matt Ryan will likely help improve the Colts’ production at wide receiver. Still, another major weapon is required to force defenses to divert attention away from Pittman and Taylor. Tight end is a less significant but related need. Both need to be addressed in the draft, but if the Colts go big at tight end, they can afford to do less at wide receiver and vice versa.
Cornerback was already an original need, but it became a priority after Rock Ya-Sin was traded to the Raiders in exchange for Yannick Ngakoue. There were both encouraging and disappointing moments for the Colts’ secondary last season, although Kenny Moore was generally great, and Ya-Sin and Rodgers had strong seasons. Cornerback may be one position the Colts address with a veteran free agent with players like Rhodes and Fuller still available.