The Indianapolis Colts currently stand at 5-5, coming off of 3 straight losses before their latest victories over the 1-win Panthers and 2-win Patriots. Anthony Richardson is on season-ending IR with a Grade 3 AC joint sprain. Minshew is managing in his place but feels underwhelming on what could’ve been for this season. This feels closer to the 2019 season Colts than it does the 2018 or 2020 season Colts. A backup QB enters the lineup and performs admirably for most of the season, but isn’t in the long-term plans. The Colts are a middle-of-the-pack team with talent on the roster to be even better but need to add just a few key pieces at important positions to be a consistent playoff team.
Regardless of how the Colts season plays out (whether it is a surprise playoff berth or a top 10 pick next draft), it’s time to focus on young player development, potential team needs this offseason, and the next batch of collegiate athletes entering the NFL. What could these potential new Colts add to help turn the team around in 2024 and beyond?
Without further ado, here is what a possible 2024 Colts Draft Class could look like.
Round 1, Pick 15: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
DISCLAIMER: As of now, the Colts are still on the outside of fan-favorite Marvin Harrison Jr’s range of likely draft picks. As much as we would all LOVE to see one of the best WR prospects in the last 20 years and son of Colts legendary WR Marvin Harrison Sr return to Indy, as of now the Colts aren’t going to see him fall to pick #7. Could a trade-up happen? Sure, but I’d expect it would have to be a big trade package to move up to the top 3 in this class. Considering GM Chris Ballard has never traded up in Round 1, I have some doubts he will this year. Especially with several holes on Defense.
As of now, Kool-Aid McKinstry is the consensus, as well as my, CB1 of the 2024 Draft class. There is some competition for the title, namely Iowa’s Cooper DeJean and Penn State’s Kalen King (though others are also in contention). McKinstry isn’t the most high-end freaky athlete at the CB position, which could make him not fit Ballard’s prospect profile. However, what he lacks in pure physical talent (at which he is still above average at a 6’1 195lb frame), he more than makes up for in his intelligence, aggression, and technical refinement.
Kool-Aid McKinstry is excellent in soft press coverage. Teach tape. Outstanding footwork and active hands. He plays with great patience and is able to mirror and match wide receivers. pic.twitter.com/stCdmW0H00
— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) April 11, 2023
McKinstry has mastered the Nick Saban Defensive playbook, which is no easy feat. The junior cornerback plays like a coach on the field, getting other players into the right coverages and making adjustments against opposing offenses pre-snap. He is especially proficient in Zone Coverage, where his top-notch instincts and ball skills are fully utilized. Kool-Aid is also a weapon in the run defense as well, beating blockers to stop runners in their tracks frequently. His aggressive yet smart playstyle helps him mirror opposing WRs and make plays on the ball. In 2022 McKinstry made 16 pass breakups, one of the highest in the NCAA. So far in 2023, he is allowing his lowest catch rate of his career with 13 catches allowed on 31 targets (41.9%) along with just 139 yards allowed for the year.
While the Colts do have some cornerback talent such as rookies Julius Brents and Jaylon Jones alongside Kenny Moore II (and Dallis Flowers did show some promise before his Achilles tear), another is needed. Moore II is a star but unrestricted free agent after 2023 and who knows if Flowers returns to form after such a severe injury. Brents and Jones have shown some flashes in coverage, but it is still a relatively small sample size and Brents has only played half the year so far due to injuries. The Cornerback depth behind them is also rough, with Darrell Baker Jr. and Tony Brown both having their struggles as boundary corners so far. While the young CBs show promise, it feels like the Colts need one shutdown CB1 to really turn the secondary around.
Round 2, Pick 46: Princely Umanmielen, DE/Jack LB, Florida
The Colts Defense needs a consistent pass rush from its Defensive Line to work. Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley has one of the lowest blitz rates in the NFL, so if 4 rushers aren’t making it to the Passer, no one is. While the Colts have invested draft capital consistently into DL, it has yet to materialize into a consistently elite pass rush. With Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo entering the last year of their rookie contracts in 2024 (+ Paye’s 5th year option potentially) & rotational pass rushers Tyquan Lewis and Jacob Martin each being free agents in 2024, the need is even more pronounced.
Florida Gators EDGE Princely Umanmielen has a pass-rush win rate of 25.9% per PFF
1st for Power 5 defenders with 50+ pass-rush attempts.
He’s got a 44.6% win rate in true pass sets, also 1st in the P5 among qualifiers
19 run stops this season, 4th most for qualifying P5 EDGEs
— Brandon Olsen (@WNS_Brandon) November 6, 2023
Enter the Princely pass rusher that was promised, Umanmielen offers a fascinating profile. Potentially the most well-rounded DE prospect in this class, Princely has an impressive combination of length, speed, quickness, bend, pass rush move refinement, while being a true 3-down threat vs the run and pass. His first-step speed + go-go gadget arms are staples of the Chris Ballard DL prototype. Combine that with some fun pass rush moves and counters: speed to power, rip, and his go-to pro-ready spin move, and Princely has a fun profile to watch.
Alright, y'all. I've been waiting to do this. Let me introduce you to Princely Umanmielen. Edge rusher out of UF. @d1princely
Truly a deadly spin move.
— Josiah🏈 (@RainingGamess) October 9, 2023
While Unanmielen could very well rise up during the pre-draft process to be a Round 1 DE, he is for now a projected Round 2 pass rusher. This is mostly due to other pass rushers being more heralded so far in the process and Princely’s lack of sacks as a starter (4.5 in 2022, 5.5 so far in 2023). His pressure rate is very high, and with his run defense being a key part of his game as well, the low total sack numbers shouldn’t move his stock too far down. Especially once Princely potentially dominates in the Combine & Senior Bowl.
Round 3, Pick 77: T’Vondre Sweat, NT, Texas
The Colts could use a new Nose Tackle long term on their Defense. Longtime Colt Grover Stewart is an unrestricted Free Agent and is entering his age-31 season in 2024. With very few pure 1 Tech options on the roster besides him, whether or not he is retained for a short-term deal the depth needs to be addressed with a potential successor. Why not snag a freaky new NT prospect?
T’Vondre Sweat is such a monster. He makes plays against the run and the pass. This is a guy that you will hear about a ton on Sundays. https://t.co/vZQhsL1CsE
— Ben Hall (@bhjournalist) November 12, 2023
T’Vondre Sweat is an absolute behemoth of a prospect. He is 6’4 and his reported weight is anywhere between 346lbs and 362lbs. You could potentially put 2 TY Hiltons on a weight scale and they still might not weigh as much as this Longhorn. The sheer size and power of T’Vondre Sweat is clearly his biggest asset, making him a natural 1 Tech DT/NT.
Texas senior DL T’Vondre Sweat is a HOUSE
Balance and motor he plays w at his size (6’4, 362lbs) is remarkable. Completely different player than what he was in HS. Among the top DTs in the 2024 draft class and arguably the best true NT
— Tim Verghese (@TimVerghese) November 9, 2023
With his size, one might think that Sweat is solely a two-down run stuffer. While he is a dominant force of nature in the run-stuffing department, he also has shown pass-rush ability. The giant of Texas devours blockers and demands double and sometimes triple teams, and even then it might not be enough. In the pass rush game, he might not ever be a double-digit sacks type of player, but his sheer power collapses pockets regularly. Sweat has developed strong swim and rip moves in his arsenal to tear through blockers.
T’Vondre Sweat is the second best DEFENDER in all of College Football (159 teams)
— Nash (@NashTalksTexas) November 5, 2023
Arguably the most dominant DT in College football so far this year, it would not be shocking to see his stock soar well past here. Even so, imagining Sweat joining this DL alongside Buckner and potentially rotating in for Grover Stewart is enough to give opposing offenses nightmares. Maybe it’s for the best if Sweat doesn’t go to the Colts, at least for opposing iOL, OC, RBs, and QB’s sleep schedules’ sake.
Round 4, Pick 108: Tory Horton, WR, Colorado State
After 3 straight Defensive picks, some of you may be wondering: Where are the Offensive reinforcements? Well wait no longer, as in Round 4 the Colts add a new weapon to the offensive core for Anthony Richardson to utilize: Tory Horton of Colorado State.
Tory Horton’s movement bruh pic.twitter.com/tvmfWrTwkD
— Liam (@Blutman27) September 17, 2023
This highly productive Rams WR has been sensational in 2023. As of now for all of CFB, he is 13th in yards (848), 5th in Yards After the Catch (484), and 5th in Missed Tackles Forced (20) among WRs. His ball skills and body control combined with his 6’2 190lb frame make him an enticing target, especially when combined with his creative and dynamic quickness in the open field.
His speed is above average at a reported 4.45, and his route running has been really solid. While he doesn’t have the best contested catch ability nor the most electric speed, his deep ball ability is a strong point with his ball tracking and route combos letting him make big plays over the top. Predominantly an outside receiver in his collegiate usage, though he still played a respectable amount in the slot too. With the ability to be a potential deep threat or a YAC underneath threat, it is easy to see him getting a role in the Steichen Offense.
So Tory Horton’s ball skills… pic.twitter.com/o6xrcqDWxV
— Mike Renner (@mikerenner_) September 17, 2023
For the Colts, I can envision Horton sliding in as a WR4 if the Colts bring back Michael Pittman Jr. He should compete for the job with returning WR Ashton Dulin off of IR and whichever other veteran free agents the Colts could add or retain in 2024.
Round 5, Pick 143: Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame
In case you didn’t know, the Colts could still use more competition in the cornerback room. Even with McKinstry added earlier to a unit including Brents, Jones, Flowers, and potentially retaining Kenny Moore II, there is still room for one more Corner. This CB needs to be both someone to provide depth should injuries reemerge for several players ahead of him on the depth chart, and be able to play Special Teams. The good news is that Cam Hart can do both.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 3, 2023
The Notre Dame Fighting Irishmen’s captain on Defense, Hart has impressed me this season. The 6’2 207lb CB has the speed and length to be an asset as a boundary CB. He has used his physical gifts well to guard opposing WRs, so far allowing only 47.8% of his targets caught, 123 receiving yards, and 0 TDs.
Cam Hart (Notre Dame CB 5) has impressed me tonight on tape. Listed at 6-2 and 198 lbs with 24 games played and 10 starts. Instantly, you can see his length but watch his quick feet while reading the QB and then the aggressiveness to fly upfield to make the tackle. pic.twitter.com/S0odlMmpVh
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) August 12, 2022
He’s even forced 2 Fumbles so far, utilizing his length in press, in contesting catches, and at the tackle to make plays. He has the fluidity and versatility to be used in either man or zone heavy schemes. Hart aced his biggest test against Ohio State, where he allowed just 1 catch on 2 targets for 10 yards while facing against star prospects Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Pair that with some abilities in punt coverage, and Hart is a worthwhile Day 3 pick for both upside and depth.
Round 6, Pick 174: Matt Goncalves, OT, Pittsburgh
The Colts still need to add some depth to the Offensive Line. Blake Freeland has gone through a trial by fire at both Left and Right tackle, starting each as the Colts have dealt with injuries to both Bernhard Raimann and Braden Smith at varying points of the season. While the rookie swing tackle hasn’t necessarily impressed, the tough matchups he has faced plus the learning curve of OL from college to pros should be factored. However, with the Colts’ depth being tested in 2023 it would be wise to continue to add more swing tackle depth just in case. Enter Matt Goncalves, a Tackle prospect with nearly 700 LT snaps and nearly 1000 RT snaps under his belt in college.
Pitt LT Matt Goncalves (#76) worked between right and left tackle against Virginia Tech and looked really good in both spots. Awesome patience in pass pro with some heavy hands. There’s a lot to like with the RS Junior. pic.twitter.com/dlUWCoq62j
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) October 22, 2022
Goncalves unfortunately had his Senior year end early in 2023 with a season-ending surgery. This could get him to fall down boards depending on his recovery timeline. However, the Pitt OT has an interesting profile with incredible size and length with solid bend. The 6’6 330lb OT has the necessary size and strength to be a bully in the run game and knock pass rushers out of their rush lanes. He did struggle in the past versus speed rushers, so he is far from a perfect prospect even if healthy. But getting an experienced, versatile, and powerful blocker in Round 6 is solid value if his medicals check out.
Round 7, Pick 205: Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee
Joe Milton is one of the more fascinating prospects to evaluate in this class. On the one hand, his physical traits are near Richardson-like. Not the same level of athlete, but Milton has a similar arm strength and ball velocity while also being a good rushing threat. On the other, Milton is still a raw and undeveloped QB in terms of decision-making, eye discipline, and read progression, and has iffy ball placement. This is despite Milton being a starting college QB for nearly twice as many games as Richardson, yet still being even more of a project.
I don’t think Dont'e Thornton was even open but a perfect throw from Joe Milton and one hell of a catch results in Tennessee’s first touchdown
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) November 11, 2023
Milton has shown some development over time and his overall passing stats are better than Richardson’s in college. However, on tape, Milton still needs more work. He isn’t the same level of dynamic runner that Richardson was, in part due to less speed. The Volunteer QB’s processing speed needs work, as well as his anticipation throwing & decision-making. The pure arm talent is there, but more reps and time are needed for him to be a consistent NFL QB. Considering his age (24 on draft day) & longer starting experience while still being behind Richardson in some key areas on tape, not as many teams might be willing to develop Milton. I expect his stock to rise more than this potentially, but not to nearly the same heights as Richardson barring some impressive end-of-season performances.
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