The 2024 Senior Bowl is in the books, and draft season is fully underway, just in time for Mock Draft Monday. After a long week of practice, drills, and the game itself, Colts fans might be wondering who if any Senior Bowl participants will GM Chris Ballard covet? As Locked On Colts Host Jake Arthur pointed out, Ballard has a habit of dipping into the Senior Bowl pool of prospects.
27 draft picks out of 65 total since 2017 when Ballard took over as the Colts GM. A 41.5% chance that a Colts pick is going to be a Senior Bowl prospect in 7 years of drafts. While my mock projects a whopping 75% of prospects taken from the Senior Bowl rosters, this one is designed to help familiarize fans with some of the rookies who were in Mobile this past week who fit Ballard’s prototypes and where they might be taken.
Without further ado, let’s kick off the mock with the quintessential Ballard Trade Back:
- Round 1, Pick 20
- Round 2, Pick 51
- Steelers 2025 Round 5 Pick
- Round 1, Pick 15
- Colts 2025 Round 4 Pick
The Colts get an extra 2nd round pick to move back 5 picks in Round 1 and 1 Round on early Day 3 in the 2025 Draft. The Steelers feel like a potential trade-up candidate. Openly dissatisfied with their current QB situation, the Steelers might want to trade up if they fall in love with a QB and want to ensure that another team doesn’t poach him.
At pick 15 there is likely a large tier of players available who are at the Colts’ needs (CB, S, DL, WR) who fit their prototypes. When Ballard sees a deep tier like that, he LOVES to trade back. The only time he doesn’t is if a player is remaining in a tier above who he needs to have. If say, Brock Bowers, Rome Odunze, or Malik Nabers were there at 15, Ballard would be hard-pressed not to take one. But assuming these very highly rated players aren’t on the board at 15 (or a DL/CB is there at 15 that he is head over heels for), Ballard is moving back.
Round 1, Pick 20 | Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
One of the stars of the Senior Bowl, Quinyon Mitchell put on one heck of a performance. The Toledo Rocket propelled himself firmly into the national discourse for the top 5 Corners in this draft class (Arnold, Kool-Aid, DeJean*, Wiggins). As the top-graded CB in CFB over the past 2 seasons, the level of competition was truly one of his only questions heading into Mobile. Mitchell had a consistently strong showing throughout the week against some of the top WRs in the country, answering the said question with a definitive, “Yes, I am that good”.
Quinyon Mitchell Interview Part 1 Post Day 1 practice
Stock ⬆️ after a big performance today for the Toledo CB pic.twitter.com/ozjnLGfkND
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) January 30, 2024
At 6’0 195lbs, 31in arms, and speed in the 4.3s (23.58 mph laser timed), and a reported 21 reps of 225lbs, Mitchell looks to be a supremely athletic Cornerback. His coverage stat profile is similarly impressive:
- 132 Targets
- 54 Receptions Allowed
- 40.9% Receptions Allowed %
- 37 Passes Defended (leads NCAA)
- 560 Receiving Yards Allowed
- 10.37 Yards per Reception Allowed
- 125 Yards After Catch
- 2.3 YAC per Catch
- 3 TDs Allowed (all in 2022)
- 2 Pick 6s
- 6 INTs
- 42.49 QB Passer Rating Allowed
Add on his reliable tackling, missing just 6.25% of his tackle attempts this past season and being a willing run supporter with 26 Run Stops, he will be a fun new addition for the Colts. Michell can play either boundary Corner spot very well, and has moved around a little bit in college (some snaps at FS, slot, in the box; albeit not nearly as many as on the outside). He even offers Punt return/coverage ability, showing a willingness to play special teams as a gunner in the Senior Bowl and at Toledo.
Brenden Rice VS Quinyon Mitchell rep 👀 pic.twitter.com/A4lFhmJiae
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) January 31, 2024
Gus Bradley getting Mitchell would give the Colts another promising young Cornerback. 2023 2nd Round CB JuJu Brents and 7th Round CB Jaylon Jones showed some promise in extensive playing time in 2023, but there were inconsistencies for the rookies. Meanwhile, 2022 UDFAs Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. also got starting reps as well. Flowers thrived at the start of the season but suffered an Achilles tear that ended it quickly. Baker had some really ugly moments but a couple of good games as well. If the Colts bring back star CB Kenny Moore II, the unit just needs a true CB1 and the development of their very young boundary Corners. Mitchell could potentially be that answer.
Fun Fact: Even after the trade back, this would be the 2nd highest pick invested in a Corner in Indianapolis Colts history. The only higher pick? Their 1st ever pick in Indianapolis history: Leonard Coleman in 1984 at 8th overall. It feels long overdue for the Colts to take a shot at a shutdown CB in the top 20 of a draft.
Round 2, Pick 46 | Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri
If there is one thing we know Ballard loves, its highly athletic, long armed, and versatile defenders with captain experience and phenomenal off the field service. Darius Robinson is a player who could be available in Round 2 who checks all those boxes in Sharpie.
As a 6’5 286 lb Defensive Lineman with 35 inch arms, Robinson brings an incredible amount of power. His snatch-and-swim rushes are phenomenal and he bullies Offensive Linemen in the run game. He is a very twitched up athlete who has a relentless motor. He is going to test at a very high level in Indianapolis for the Combine.
For those that are curious, here are Darius Robinson’s pass rush win rates from different alignments.
3/4i – 13.0%
5/6 – 18.8%
Wider than that – 19.1%
So to me, he’s a 6’5″ 290lb 5-tech that can play Edge in nickel looks just for fun.
That’s the J.J. Watt profile. https://t.co/jzjOipve1c
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) January 31, 2024
At Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Robinson has dominated consistently. From any alignment, Robinson has shown success. He has been a 3T or 4T DT, 5i DE, 7 and wide 9 Edge throughout his collegiate career, and in Mobile won his matchups everywhere. A highly athletic freak with positional versatility, & length? Sign Ballard up.
Mizzou DL Darius Robinson was named “Overall Practice Player of Week” by panel of NFL scouts & front office executives at @seniorbowl awards ceremony today at 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/hYOWVa0L2G
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 2, 2024
To complete his profile, Robinson was a 2-year captain for the Missouri Tigers and has started a non-profit called Darius Robinson Helping Hands Foundation. He was even honored as a member of the SEC Community Service Team. Not only does Robinson check every conceivable Ballard box on the field, but off it as well.
The Colts’ pass rush finished 5th in Sacks with 51 in 2023, but only 22nd in Pressure Rate at 19.6%. A trio of Samson Ebukam, Kwity Paye, and Dayo Odeyingbo has high potential, but none has proven to be a top-tier pass rusher yet. There is still some time for their development into that next stage, as Paye and Odeyingbo enter Year 4 and Ebukam is still just 28. Considering all 3 had career years in 2023, it feels like they are on an upward trajectory.
Despite that optimism, Tyquan Lewis is a Free Agent, and Paye & Odeyingbo entering the final years of their rookie contracts (Paye has a 5th-year option too), so there is room to add to the rotation. Lewis’ ability to be an Edge rusher and 3 Technique Defensive Tackle was valuable, and while Odeyingbo also can do so, you can never have too much versatility for depth. Should Robinson be available in Round 2, Ballard would be thrilled to add another freak athlete who can line up nearly anywhere.
Round 2, Pick 51 | Beau Brade, SAF, Maryland
The 2023 Colts had issues in the back end of the Defense, and one of their best players at that spot is a Free Agent. Julian Blackmon had a strong bounceback year and solidified himself as the Colts Strong Safety. However, with him injured at times, the Colts Safety issues became more pronounced.
2nd Year Safeties Rodney Thomas II and Nick Cross split time at Free Safety over the year, but neither showed much development. Thomas II regressed from his 4 pick rookie season with more coverage miscues. Cross is still such a young and raw Safety learning to develop his instincts. Should Blackmon leave in Free Agency (he is likely 4th on the Colts in-house FAs priority), the Colts need either Safety spot. While another Free Agent Safety could be the answer at one, at this point the lack of definitive answers means the Colts should look for a multi-position talent.
Enter Beau Brade, a Safety with experience at both FS and SS. While he can survive in Free Safety with Speed and range single high, he thrives in split safety coverages. A natural fit for Gus Bradley’s scheme, Brade’s violent power at the hit point and box safety/nickel CB versatility has been used to match up against TEs and slots.
Now it’s Beau Brade’s turn
The former Maryland safety breaks up the pass during today’s Senior Bowl practice. @NickHarrisDC wrote that Brade is “one that has been impressing coaches and scouts with his on-field knowledge and instincts” pic.twitter.com/ZQjyc0FRGf
— Inside the Black & Gold (@Insideblackgold) January 31, 2024
With a 3-4 Safety rotation of Cross, Thomas II, and Brade paired with a potential Free Agent Safety in a deep class, the Colts will have an interesting group to mix and match depending on matchups. If Gus Bradley can develop this young Safety group, then it will be a big boost to the Colts Defense.
Round 3, Pick 82 | Ryan Flournoy, WR, Southeast Missouri State
Potentially the biggest riser of the Senior Bowl, SEMO WR Ryan Flournoy had a phenomenal week. I already briefly went over who he is in my latest Small School Prospect Watchlist article:
“Who is Ryan Flournoy? He is a 6’1 200lb WR from SEMO in the FCS level of football. He received 0 FBS offers out of High School, but over the last 2 years has flashed as one of the best athletes in college. A hands catcher with a strong deep ball and YAC profile versus his FCS competition, Flournoy had a great showing. Displaying track speed, reliable hands, and constant separation while also adding some tenacity as a run blocker? Ballard likey.”
If that isn’t enough to make the case that he is on Ballard’s draft board, how about a look into how his athletic testing will go?
In case you are wondering how Senior Bowl standout SEMO WR Ryan Flournoy will likely test at the Combine, I took the liberty of putting in his athletic testing as of LAST offseason per @BruceFeldmanCFB‘s Freak List with his Senior Bowl size measurements into a RAS score…
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) February 5, 2024
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Flournoy’s meteoric rise ends with him being taken sometime on Day 2. And if Chris Ballard has anything to say about it, he will be wearing a Colts horseshoe by the end of the night.
Round 4, Pick 117 | Audric Estimé, RB, Notre Dame
With both Zack Moss and Trey Sermon as unrestricted Free Agents, the Colts would be wise to add additional RB depth in this draft behind Jonathan Taylor. While the Colts could bring back one or both of them, as of now the only RBs under contract behind Taylor are Tyler Goodson and Evan Hull coming off of a torn meniscus. The Colts could use one more RB that they’d be confident in getting most of the carries in the event of a Taylor injury.
RB yards per touch (college career)
T. Spears: 7.28
B. Robinson: 7.03
J. Gibbs: 6.90
K. Mitchell: 6.85
J. Brooks: 6.81
K. Miller: 6.78
D. Achane: 6.69
T. Benson: 6.58
B. Irving: 6.54
A. Estime: 6.49
M. Lloyd: 6.37
J. Wright: 6.22
Z. Charbonnet: 6.15
B. Allen: 5.82
B. Corum: 5.66
— Football Insights 📊 (@fball_insights) January 30, 2024
They might not have to look far, as there is an RB up in South Bend, Indiana who certainly fits the bill. Estimé is a powerful and patient runner with great vision and underrated short-area quickness and acceleration. While he can run straight through a hole with no hesitation, he can also wait for a hole to develop behind the line and then explode forward for a nice gain. If hit he has amazing contact balance to fall forward and churn yards after contact.
Audric Estime is one of the best RBs in the country 🏃 (if not the BEST)
• 6.1 YPC
• 18 RTDs
• 1,341 Rushing Yards
• 94.0 Rushing Grade (#3)
One of the best RBs in the NFL Draft❗️ pic.twitter.com/fMnBU04q23
— College Football Report (@CFBRep) February 1, 2024
A very young but smart runner, Estimé will turn 21 right as the season begins and has already succeeded in multiple blocking schemes. Whether the Colts run Zone or Gap run concepts, Estimé will still thrive. There are limits to his game as a throwback runner. While Estimé has reliable hands (caught every single target in his college career) he wasn’t asked to receive much. His ability to be a consistent threat in the passing game isn’t well documented, and sometimes he can be pushed back in his pass pro by bigger DL. Still if the Colts want to add a back with power behind JT to round out their RB depth filled with receiving RBs, Estimé makes a ton of sense in Day 3.
Round 5, Pick 149 | Delmar Glaze, OT, Maryland
With Braden Smith dealing with injuries in 2023, Blake Freeland struggling as a rookie, and no depth behind breakout LT Bernhard Raimann, the Colts could use another OT. How about one with experience at both sides of the line and a strong pass protection profile?
Maryland OT Delmar Glaze has done a nice job this week.
Underrated name in a deep tackle class that’s been dominant at both G & T at times. pic.twitter.com/nPSOuyVDTP
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) February 1, 2024
Glaze might not be the greatest athlete at the position, but his versatility, polished technique, and large size make him an interesting prospect to watch. He is calculated and smooth in pass pro with strong hand placement and grip strength. A thick torso and a good amount of power make him have flashes in the run game too. His foot speed needs work so speed rushers can get around him and he won’t be the best in space in the run game. But if you want a solid pass-pro swing Tackle (who might line up at G too) Glaze could be a valuable depth piece to keep the Colts afloat should injuries occur to their starting OTs.
Round 6, Pick 192 | Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee
Joe Milton might be the most controversial QB prospect in this draft. The range I’ve seen from experts on him is massive. It makes sense given his insane god-given gifts but a ton of rawness. A big dual-threat QB with one of the strongest arms we’ve seen is appealing for teams with QB whisperers on staff to develop. But when turning on the tape, there is a ton of work to be done.
Some would make the comparison between Milton and Colts QB Anthony Richardson. Based on their body types, high-end athleticism, and ridiculous arm strength, it’s easy to see their reasoning on the surface.
However, that is where the comparisons end. Milton doesn’t display the advanced pocket presence that Richardson had at Florida. His decision-making his erratic as is his throw placement. Milton is so raw not because of youthful inexperience either, as he is going to be 24 in March and has been in College Football for 6 years, starting in multiple years. Heck, Milton probably isn’t going to test as well athletically as Richardson. Milton weighed in about 10 lb. lighter than Richardson and is likely to run in the 4.5s-4.6s in his 40-yard dash (vs Richardson’s 4.43). To be fair to Milton though, Richardson is the most athletic QB ever in testing history. That was always a very high bar to reach.
One of the funniest interviews I’ve had this week: Vols QB Joe Milton III
Laughs were constant from media: From his $900 designer fuzzy orange slippers, to not even throwing the ball that hard (but has previously broken some WRs fingers back in HS when he had less control)… pic.twitter.com/INSPvZEh1p
— Jay Robins 🧾mark (@RobinsLucas) February 1, 2024
Milton has displayed a charismatic and fun-loving, yet determined personality at the Senior Bowl. As much development as he needs, I can’t help but root for the guy. He didn’t answer questions about his decision-making or accuracy at the Senior Bowl, with an inconsistent touch throughout practices. In the Senior Bowl game itself, he held onto the ball too long 2x for ugly sacks and had a pair of terrible INTs.
The Joe Milton experience😅
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 3, 2024
So why should the Colts give him a look? Simple: they have a Head Coach who can develop him, a starter for him to sit behind, and can run the same run concepts with Richardson as they do with Milton. Last year with Minshew, Steichen had to run an entirely different offense midseason to fit him instead of Richardson. While Milton might not execute the concepts as well as Richardson, Steichen won’t feel like he only can use half of his play sheet with him. If Milton continues to struggle in drills at the Combine and Tennessee’s Pro Day, there is a good chance he could fall to the end of Day 3. At that point, spending a 6th to 7th round pick on a scheme fit high upside project backup QB is certainly a risk worth taking.
Round 7, Pick 231 | Brevyn Spann-Ford, TE, Minnesota
By Round 7, the Colts have very few clear needs left to address. So why not add a 5th Tight End to the depth chart? Last year the depth was tested. Mo Alie-Cox, Will Mallory, and Kylen Granson all were in a rotation together. Andrew Ogletree showed the most flashes as a blocker while still having receiving skills, but he is now on the Commissioner’s exempt list and potentially not in the Colts long-term plans. Jelani Woods missed the entire season with two hamstring injuries. His addition to the lineup will be huge, giving Steichen another true freak athlete to use while also adding some blocking skills to the unit.
As of now, the only active blocking Tight End on the Colts is Mo Alie-Cox. While Tight End coach Tom Manning was a huge fan of him years ago, Cox has yet to return to his blocking dominance of yesteryear. He had a bounceback going from a 49.3 to a 61 run-blocking grade. However, Mo Alie-Cox’s contract could make him a cut candidate, as they would save $5.92 million with $0 dead cap if they move on from him. But the Colts now need a new Blocking TE to balance out their TE rotation.
Enter the Mountain of Minnesota: Brevyn Spann-Ford. At 6’7 270lb. Spann-Ford is a giant. He at times flashes dominant run-blocking reps, sealing off LBs and DBs at the 2nd level on pulls or holding his own against DL. Helps that he has an 80 inch wingspan to give him fantastic reach. He has some intriguing athleticism too, able to hurdle defenders in open space. Versatility is also a strong suit for Spann-Ford, as he can line up as a Y TE, inline, or in the slot.
— Phillip Dillingham (@phillipdilling1) January 30, 2024
However, Spann-Ford needs more consistency in his blocking balance and grip. As a receiver, he offers little in terms of separation or route running. He can be used in the RedZone or contested catch situations, but that is about it. As long as he can shine as a run blocker, with occasional red zone targets, he will fit his role fine.
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