The scenery surrounding the Indianapolis Colts changed since we last dove into their roster. The trade for quarterback Carson Wentz has been finalized following the retirement of Philip Rivers; wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is back on a one-year, prove-it deal; and, for general manager Chris Ballard, this group looks primed to compete with the AFC’s best when autumn soon arrives in Indianapolis.
The Colts reloaded following an 11-5 season that saw the breakout debut of power-back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Now, with Wentz now at the helm, there could be a two-team race for the AFC South title with the Tennessee Titans.
The Colts were relatively quiet in the open signing period, opting to focus on re-signing key cogs around Wentz in an effort to ease his onboarding process. Re-signing Hilton has arguably served as the biggest move Ballard has made outside of the acquisition for Wentz. Hilton represents everything the Colts do on offense from a pass-catching standpoint with the ability to work all three levels of the defense with excellent versatility and toughness. Running back Marlon Mack is also set to return following an injury-riddled 2020 campaign that saw him total just four rush attempts before falling victim to a torn Achilles in Week 1. He will work alongside Taylor to form a devastating 1-2 punch in the Colts backfield to supplement Wentz’s skill set through the air.
With all that, I still haven’t mentioned the Quenton Nelson-led offensive line or swarming youth-infused defense headlined by All-Pro talents DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard. Long story short, there are minimal holes in Ballard’s unit, and with a few key additions, the Colts could soon find themselves deep into January in search of their first conference title since 2009.
So, let’s get right into it. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, I looked at which prospects Indianapolis could target in this post-free-agency draft haul. Here is my seven-round mock including scheme fit on each prospect:
Round 1 (No. 21 overall): Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Let me be clear here: Both Kwity Paye and former Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari would be outstanding fits in defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ even 4-3 front, but Paye trumps Ojulari when it comes to intricate scheme-specific intangibles. Ojulari projects to work off the ball, whereas Paye will line up with his hand in the dirt with sights set under center every snap he takes. Paye is a menacing prospect who has shown signs of underdevelopment, but it’s notion towards his projection at the next level, and man is it impressive. His frame is NFL ready, and if Eberflus opts to pair him next door to Buckner, lookout.
Paye should produce from the onset of his career within a defensive scheme similar to Michigan’s seven-man front and only looks to get better and better as time goes on. Paye’s best football is still ahead of him, and his addition adds another lethal defensive talent within the Colts’ front seven.
Round 2 (No. 54 overall): Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
Without a selection until No. 127 overall, a massive need must be addressed here. Elijah Molden provides a jolt of talent within an underperforming secondary group. Kenny Moore II has done a nice job, but the duo of Xavier Rhodes and 2019 second-round selection Rock Ya-Sin have left much to be desired. Rhodes was re-signed on a one-year deal to start opposite Moore, but Ya-Sin’s projection within Eberflus’ defense is currently unknown, as he’s struggled both outside and in the slot thus far in his career.
Molden aligns ideally as a slot corner in the NFL who could snatch the starting role from Ya-Sin from the onset of offseason workouts. At 5-foot-10, he’s a tad undersized in comparison to the proto-typical NFL corner mold, but his elite athleticism and pure cover skills in shallow areas rival the best in the class.
Round 4 (No. 127 overall): Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
As good as Hilton has been, he’s now on the bad side of 30 on a one-year deal. Behind him, Pittman is relatively unproven despite an impressive rookie campaign, and Parris Campbell has failed to stay remotely healthy, appearing in just nine games his first two seasons as a Colt.
Seth Williams offers additional size outside of Pittman who should earn a slew of targets from Wentz in his first season. Williams is a 50/50 nightmare in the red zone and thrives in contested situations with defenders draped around him. He’s an enticing prospect out of the SEC and presents an additional target for Wentz who could serve as Indianapolis’ X receiver in case of injury.
Round 5 (No. 165 overall): Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia
Charles Snowden is a project, but his off-the-charts length (6-foot-6) and movement skills could result in a fantastic prospect in the coming years. He looks to slide in rotationally on passing downs while serving as a key contributor on special teams in his first season, but he has all the makings of a unique defensive prospect who could learn the ins and outs of the league behind Darius Leonard. It’s a win-win scenario for the Colts here in the fifth round.
Round 6 (No. 206 overall): Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
Both Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport were brought in to add depth to the tackle room, but neither looks to be in Indianapolis past this season. With Braden Smith on the right side, Tevi looks to slot in next to Nelson to make up the left side of head coach Frank Reich’s offensive line. Ignore the program, Jaylon Moore is a stud at the tackle position with a higher level of movement skills and technique than both Tevi and Davenport right now. With those traits, he often dominated the point of attack within the Broncos run game, consistently out-leveraging opposing lineman from week to week.
Round 7 (No. 248 overall): Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
It’s a best-player-available approach here in the seventh round for a prospect I envision as a starter in the NFL for years to come. Paris Ford is a do-it-all safety with a background of serving multiple roles within Pittsburgh’s secondary. He packs a punch in the box when defending the run and is impressively aware when working in single-high coverage as well. Although he has excellent traits where he could serve that role, Ford best projects working in a split-zone scheme where he isn’t relied on doing too much. He’s an excellent value add here to work interchangeably with Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon.