An organization without a clear direction heading into the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts sit with major questions at two of the most important positions in their organization: head coach and quarterback. While we remain months away from April and things will change drastically as all-star events, the NFL Scouting Combine, pro days, and the interview process alter draft boards, here is an early seven-round mock (including scheme fit) of how the board could fall for Colts GM Chris Ballard.
Round 1 (No. 4 overall): C.J. Stroud QB, Ohio State
Stroud may be the most gifted passer in the entire country. He’s a big, strong kid that looks all the part of a top-five pick and the future face of the franchise. One game won’t tell the full story, but Stroud was everything he was advertised to be against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP. He was nothing short of spectacular, dissecting the secondary of a deep Georgia defense headlined by potential day-one perimeter stalwarts in Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith. He was accurate, decisive, and showcased a mobility we’ve rarely seen when awarded clean pockets.
Impressions last a long time and Stroud showcased his elite skill set when it mattered most. Some may have their concerns on how he adjusts to not having premier, tier-one pass-catchers on the boundary, but I think Stroud would do just fine within a Colts offense touting Michael Pittman Jr. (should he not be traded) and Alec Pierce—handing it off to Jonathan Taylor 25 times a game isn’t too bad, either.
Round 2 (No. 35 overall): Andrew Vorhees IOL, USC
He’s played primarily at left guard the last few seasons at USC, but aligning him at right guard—opposite of Quenton Nelson—within the guts of your front five is the ideal way to build around a young signal-caller. He’s a force in the run, is rarely moved off his spot when asked to pass set, and carries the leadership and nastiness to live within the trenches for a decade. This is a foundational addition to an offense and to keeping your sparkling new Ferrari under center in Stroud upright.
Round 3 (No. 79 overall): Byron Young EDGE, Tennessee
With the pick they acquired from Washington in the Carson Wentz trade, I expect the Colts to add some juice off the edge. With four sacks against LSU, two against Kentucky, and two more to round out the year against Clemson, Young is a name that could become the topic of conversation if he’s able to shine during the pre-draft process.
He has the flexibility to twist and lower his inside shoulder, has no issue with hand counters from linemen, and is rarely beaten to the football as a guy that plays with three lungs. He’s got some work to do in identifying a pass-rush plan, but the fundamental tools are there for him to be a nice addition to a rotation. With Yannick Ngakoue set to become a free agent, fresh legs are needed in the rotation working in tandem with Kwity Paye and 2022 second-rounder Dayo Odeyingbo.
Round 4 (No. 103 overall): Jarrett Patterson G/C, Notre Dame
Another Golden Domer to join Nelson within the interior? Yes, please. One of the most consistent linemen in the class, Patterson didn’t allow a single sack in 1,608 snaps in pass pro over four seasons. He can play guard too, but after selecting Vorhees to take over at RG, I expect him to challenge Ryan Kelly right away for snaps as someone that anchored the Fighting Irish at center from 2019-2021.
Round 5 (No. 135 overall): Tank Dell WR, Houston
I love the value here that Dell could add as a field stretcher for Stroud. While I expect him to thrive at the Senior Bowl to the point where he may not be available once the Colts are on the clock here in the fifth round, Dell is one of the sleepers in the class that fights above his weight class on the outside. He’s an uber-smooth route-runner and has long appendages that allow him to glide in space and snatch footballs out of the air despite being 5-foot-9.
Round 6 (No. 193 overall): Darius Rush CB, South Carolina
A WR convert, Rush has been a popular name within league circles over the last few weeks. He looks the part at 6-foot-2, the ball skills pop off the screen, and he’s expected to test extremely well at the combine. You can never have enough corners, and Rush would be able to make his mark on special teams right away and earn snaps rotationally from day one.
Round 7 (No. 199 overall): Mason Brooks OT/G, Ole Miss
A transfer from Western Kentucky where he spent his first three seasons, Brooks touts ideal measurables for someone that could challenge for a rotational role next fall at 6-foot-5 with nearly 34-inch arms. He received limited work this year at Ole Miss but didn’t allow a single pressure in 38 pass-blocking opportunities with snaps at both tackle and guard. He’s a ball of clay worth bringing in late on day three.
Round 7 (No. 214 overall): Harrison Mevis K, Missouri
Chase McLaughlin was consistent in spurts, but an 83.3 FG% with 30 or more attempts ranked near the bottom of kickers in football that also met the same thresholds. Mevis, one of the top kickers in the country, has never missed an XP in 102 attempts, was perfect in seven attempts from 40-49 yards this year, and carries a swagger to his game a locker room would fall in love with as the aptly nicknamed “Thiccer Kicker” at 255 pounds. There’s been a placekicker drafted in each of the last seven drafts and Mevis is a big boy that can boot it.