It’s a widely held belief in Colts nation that Indianapolis will draft Philip Rivers’ successor on April 24th. Rivers’ one-year, $25 million contract suggests a short stint in the Circle City, while signaling the organization’s lack of faith in Jacoby Brissett.
But who is Chris Ballard’s guy and at what pick? Will the Colts go contrarian if a non-quarterback or receiver falls in their lap at #34? The Athletic’s Zak Keefer joined The Ride with JMV to give his take:
“They could go away from quarterback and away from receiver. Just because they don’t do it with the 34th pick doesn’t mean they won’t address the need with the 44th. This has happened before.”
The Colts have the 34th, 44th, and 75th overall selections in the 2020 NFL draft, their highest three barring a trade. Flash back to 2018 when Indy, in a similar position, chose a little-known linebacker out of South Carolina State (Darius Leonard) with the 36th pick, followed by tackle Braden Smith at #37. One of the most glaring needs at that time? Edge rusher.
“It wouldn’t stun me if they picked receiver,” Keefer said. “It makes so much sense. There are so many talented guys at the receiver position. But look at edge rusher. Justin Houston is 31. He’s probably playing his last year with the Colts this season. You’ve got Turay, who you liked last year, but is young and hasn’t really put together a full season yet. Banogu hasn’t shown you enough. And by the way, that’s a hugely important position. One thing that sticks in my head, [Ballard] has told me this a million times, is you can never have enough pass rush. It wouldn’t stun me if they went defensive end.”
So defensive end may be the play. Unfortunately, this draft lacks top-tier pass rushing talent. The only two guys that would theoretically be available/in consideration at #34 are Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) and A.J. Epenesa (Iowa). Both players appear to be a better fit for a 3-4 base defense, which doesn’t align with the Colts’ philosophy.
JMV has mentioned that he likes the idea of Ballard grabbing Jacob Eason with the third round choice if Indy decides to wait that long on a quarterback. Whatever the case, all eyes will be glued to television screens across central Indiana for the Colts’ first picks of 2020.