The Indianapolis Colts' season came to an end Sunday as the team lost to the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. The game was very competitive, and Indianapolis had a chance at the end of the game to tie it to send it to overtime but couldn’t move the ball down the field quick enough and wound up losing a close one 27-24. The Colts might have fallen short of their ultimate goal, but this 2020 season was one that they can definitely build on.
Indianapolis finished the season 11-5 and earned their first playoff berth since 2018. The Colts proved that they belong in the conversation as it pertains to the top teams in the AFC, and moving forward, if any team is best suited to compete with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Bills, it’s the Colts.
Starting at the top, the Colts have a very stable and strong leadership group with general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich, both being very well respected in their respective roles. Ballard has done a remarkable job replenishing this roster with a nice mix of youthful and veteran talent, while Reich has this team consistently buttoned up and ready to go on Sundays. The culture that the pair has developed in Indianapolis is what other teams strive for, and it’s how good teams stay competitive.
The Colts have one of the best overall rosters in all of football. On offense, this team has young skill players in running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. that both look to be excellent players moving forward. They also have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Defensively, the team is led by All-Pro players such as defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and linebacker Darius Leonard. This team is well-coached, balanced on both sides of the football, and hungry for more.
That being said, the Colts still fell short of their ultimate goal in 2020, and there is still work to be done to get there. The Colts will need to figure out their quarterback situation, as Philip Rivers is set to become a free agent and is strongly considering retiring from football altogether. If Rivers doesn’t return to the Colts, the team will have a major hole at the most important position in the NFL. Additionally, the Colts need to address their left tackle spot, as Anthony Castonzo announced his retirement earlier in the week.
There are other needs on this football team that must be addressed if they are to make a deeper run in the playoffs next year, and luckily for the Colts, this upcoming 2021 NFL Draft is full of talented players who can come in and contribute on Day 1.
Thanks to The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, we can put ourselves in Ballard’s shoes, and see just how he may look to improve this team come April. Here is a seven-round mock draft that would go a long way in getting this Colts team ready to take the next step.
Round 1 (No. 21 overall): Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
While the Colts will need a quarterback if Rivers doesn’t return—and even if he does, they’ll need one for the future—unfortunately for the Colts, they just aren’t in a good position for one of the top four guys. I believe they'll look to target a signal-caller in free agency and will address other positions of need in the draft. Outside of quarterback, there is no bigger need on this team than offensive tackle, as Castonzo announced his retirement. Jalen Mayfield, who is the fifth tackle off the board in the mock I ran, would be an excellent option to replace him. He is an athletic player who is a little raw in his technique, but has the tools and skill set to develop into a top-tier starter.
Round 2 (No. 53 overall): Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
The Colts will need to address their secondary as Xavier Rhodes is set to be a free agent and the play of Rock Ya-Sin has left a lot to be desired. While the team would definitely want Rhodes back, he will not be cheap. Drafting Tyson Campbell here makes a ton of sense. Campbell has elite athleticism and length for the position and is another high-upside player that can blossom in this defense.
Round 3 (No. 84 overall): Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB
The Colts have one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league in Buckner, but they could definitely look to address their edge rushers. Defensive end Justin Houston is a free agent and is about to be 32 years old, and there isn’t much behind him that gets you excited. Adding UAB’s Jordan Smith to this group would make a lot of sense. Smith isn’t a household name, but he is a steal in the third round. He is a bit raw, but has the length, speed, and bend that teams covet.
Round 4 (No. 122 overall): Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
Even though the Colts appear to have hit on 2020 second-round pick Pittman, wide receiver is still a position the team can definitely improve on. T.Y. Hilton is set to be a free agent, and with his down year in 2019, I doubt they bring him back. Anthony Schwartz would be a great fit for this offense and give the Colts a home run and deep threat on the outside to complement Pittman and Parris Campbell.
Round 5 (No. 161 overall): Tommy Kraemer, OT, Notre Dame
The Colts saw what happened this year when their offensive line depth was put to the test, and the results weren’t great. Smart GMs always look to add depth in the trenches, and Ballard is one of the smartest GMs out there.
Round 6 (No. 198 overall): Ifeatu Melifonwu, S, Syracuse
A safety here for the Colts makes sense. Malik Hooker is set to walk in free agency, and the team will need new depth behind two very good starters. Ifeatu Melifonwu has length and movement skills to one day contribute on the backend. For now, he can be a strong special teams player.
Round 7 (No. 242 overall) Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State
The Colts could use some more help at tight end as Trey Burton is set to be a free agent. Luke Farrell, who made some big plays in the National Championship Game, could be a nice addition late in the draft. Farrell is a strong blocker who is as tough as they come. He could also be an asset on special teams.