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NFL Draft: Indianapolis Colts Draft Recap

Offense, Athleticism Upgraded

The Indianapolis Colts made the most out of an NFL draft that didn’t start until the second round because of a trade that brought quarterback Carson Wentz to Indianapolis for a season. The decision to ship Wentz out after one season did result in some additional draft capital for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and Virginia’s Jelani Woods will give new quarterback Matt Ryan some athletic options at receiver and tight end while Bernhard Raimann should help on the offensive line.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

Picking up Ryan for the 82nd overall pick should work out better than what the Colts originally surrendered to acquire Wentz.

The Colts clearly valued the measurables when putting together this class, with top athletes being brought in at various positions. Whether the size and speed combinations of the later-round picks will result in productive NFL players is something that only time will tell.

The Colts signed one of the largest groups of undrafted rookie free agents, with three running backs, four receivers, four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, four linebackers and three defensive backs being added to the draft class.

The new additions play a role in the Colts (-115) being favored to win the AFC South Division title according to the Vegas NFL odds.

  • Pick 53 Alec Pierce | WR, Cincinnati Bearcats

It was not surprising to see the Colts go after a receiver with its top pick. There were still some top pass catchers available when it came time for the Colts to pick at No. 42. Indianapolis opted to trade down 11 spots and were able to land the 6-foot-3 Pierce.

Pierce had a bit of an uneven final season at Cincinnati with three 100-yard receiving games, but he also four games with less than 30 receiving yards. He was pretty quiet in the College Football Playoff loss to Alabama with 17 yards on two catches. He averaged 17.5 yards per catch for the Bearcats and will be asked to provide big plays for the Colts.

Pierce certainly helped his chances of being taken in the first two rounds by running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds to go with a 40.5-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 9-inch mark in the broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine.

According to the NFL lines, there are 14 receivers with better odds to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year than Pierce.

Another pick acquired in the trade that sent quarterback Carson Wentz to Washington, the Colts once again went to another pass catcher with impressive physical traits.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Jelani Woods went to the NFL Scouting Combine and had a time of 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Woods was underutilized in his three seasons at Oklahoma State, when he had 31 catches for 361 yards. He topped those numbers during his only season at Virginia with 598 yards on 44 receptions. He had 13 catches in the final two games of the season and finished with eight touchdown catches.

Will that speed translate at the NFL level? The Colts are banking on that being the case. New Colts quarterback Ryan has involved the tight end in the offense for years during his time with the Atlanta Falcons, so there could be a chance for Woods to make an immediate impact as a rookie.

The early NFL odds, have other tight ends ahead of Woods in the 2022 projections. That could be a result of the Colts having Mo Alie-Cox as the No. 1 tight end heading into the season.

Jelani Woods | Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

The native of Austria began his college career as a 240-pound tight end who had 10 catches for Central Michigan during the 2018 season. After 11 starts over two seasons at tight end, he moved to the offensive line and made 18 starts at left tackle.

Bernhard Raimann ran the 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds and caught the attention of pro scouts with his frame that is perfect for a left tackle in the NFL. He as an intriguing combination of size and speed.

He only has two seasons as an offensive linemen so there could be some growing pains, but Raimann figures to be a mainstay on the Indianapolis offensive line for years to come.

The Colts do love the prospects who test well in the pre-draft process. The 6-foot, 215-pound Nick Cross had the best 40-yard dash (4.34 seconds) among the safeties at the NFL Scouting Combine and was also in the top five in his position group in the vertical and broad jumps.

Cross was second on the 2021 Maryland team with 67 tackles and also intercepted three passes. He had six career interceptions for Maryland.

Cross will bring a physical presence to the back end of the Indianapolis secondary and also displayed solid ball skills in college. Indianapolis gave up a fifth-round pick and a third-rounder in next year’s draft for this pick, which is a steep price to pay.

Nick Cross | Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

After using their top two picks in the 2021 draft on defensive linemen, the Colts continued to try to strengthen that position through the draft.

Eric Johnson had the chance to show the scouts what he was capable of during the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Senior Bowl. Johnson saved his best for last at Missouri State with a career-high 11 tackles to go with a forced fumble and blocked punt in a loss to UT Martin in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Johnson wasn’t that productive in college with 100 tackles and 5½  sacks in 48 career games. The Colts are hoping his game takes off at the next level.

The Colts landed another 6-foot-7 tight end when they took Andrew Ogletree, who had 39 catches at Youngstown State during the 2021 season.

Ogletree displayed more big-play ability during his time at Findlay with 10 touchdown catches and 14.5 yards per reception.

Ogletree ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds at his pro day. With three tight ends taken in the last two drafts, the Colts certainly haven’t ignored that position.

Curtis Brooks had a breakout season as a senior with 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks.

Brooks is just 6-foot-2 so he figures to be limited to playing on the interior at the next level. Brooks played a couple of different spots on the Cincinnati defensive line and that experience could serve him well with the Colts.

Curtis Brooks | Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

Rodney Thomas is another versatile defender from a non-Power 5 program. He put up numbers at Yale’s pro day that would have had him as one of the top safeties at the NFL Scouting Combine, especially a 41-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 10-7 and a time of 4.02 in the short shuttle.

Thomas led Yale with 11 pass breakups as a senior and also led the Bulldogs with 35 solo tackles. He was one of the top defensive players on Yale’s Ivy League championship team in 2019. The global pandemic led to the Ivy League canceling the 2020 season.

Grading the Draft

The Indianapolis Colts definitely became a more athletic team after the 2022 NFL Draft than they were before it started. They took some of the best athletes at multiple positions in the draft. We’ll have to wait and see if those impressive testing results translate into production as rookies.

Six of the eight players drafted were from non-Power 5 programs, including three Football Championship Subdivision products. What this means is the possibility of a boom-or-bust quality to this draft.

The Colts deserve praise for having already signed its entire draft class.

Those who bet online probably won’t be ready to lay money down on any of the picks winning rookie of the year honors, but a playoff-caliber team like the Colts isn’t necessarily looking for any of these first-year players to steal the show, but merely be solid contributors.


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