INDIANAPOLIS – Without question, the Colts drafted two players who have a collegiate resume that indicate they can contribute from Day One.
But after the selections of Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor, things get a bit murkier in predicting early playing time for the Colts 2020 draft picks.
And these rookies will be hindered by the lack of in-person spring impressions they can make on the coaching staff. Plus, some development you might have seen in a normal spring could very well be stunted with the virtual nature of things right now.
Based off a 1-to-10 scale (1 being lucky to make the roster, 10 being a definite full-time starter), let’s project the playing time for the Colts 2020 draft class:
- WR-Michael Pittman (8-9): Entering the 2020 Draft, the Colts’ most important immediate need was at wide receiver. The big body Pittman should fill that in being a Day 1 starter, especially with how different he is from T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal. Sure, there will be some personnel groupings where Pittman isn’t on the field, but he also has a unique opportunity to secure a valued role that Frank Reich hasn’t had with the Colts.
- RB-Jonathan Taylor (7-8): The only reason Taylor isn’t at the same level of Pittman is because you often only have one running back on the field at a time. Having said that, you don’t draft a running back No. 41 overall, and one that has the historic collegiate resume of Taylor, and not play him a lot in Year One. Might Taylor and Marlon Mack switch off series, with one of them occupying the 1st and 2nd down roles? The Colts averaged 29 rushes per game last year. Could we see Taylor getting 15 carries, Mack getting 12 and then another 2 going to Nyheim Hines, Roosevelt Nix?
- S-Julian Blackmon (4-5): This will be a fluid one to watch as the 2020 season unfolds. Chris Ballard has mentioned that it’s likely Blackmon doesn’t contribute until October, which would place the versatile defensive back about 10 months removed from his torn ACL. Could Blackmon open the year on the physically unable to perform list? Even if/when Blackmon’s healthy, you have to think Malik Hooker and Khari Willis will start at safety, with the Colts wanting to ease their third-round pick into a defensive role.
- QB-Jacob Eason (2-3): Let me start by saying, I fully expect Eason to make the 53-man roster. But unless something happens to Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, Eason isn’t likely to take a snap in 2020. Considering Rivers has made 224 consecutive starts, and the Colts willingness to keep Brissett despite his massive cap hit, do not hold your breath on Eason playing as a rookie. Unless significant quarterback injuries happen around the league in the preseason, thus making Brissett more valuable as a trade prospect, Eason will remain QB3 in Indy this year.
- OG-Danny Pinter (3-4): Barring an injury, Pinter isn’t starting in 2020. Some want to see him push Mark Glowinski at right guard, but that’s just unrealistic in this abbreviated offseason and for a guy who has never played guard. Pinter was a right tackle, after his time at tight end in college. Now, if one injury occurs in the interior of the Colts offensive line, Pinter could very well become the starter to fill in. The Colts have talked about Pinter possibly being a center at the next level, too, so he could be the top backup at the three interior spots.
- DT-Rob Windsor (2-3): Windsor enters the deepest position group on the roster. Early talk from the Colts is that Windsor will play the 1-technique, which would be backing up Grover Stewart. At 290 pounds, Windsor could also slide over at the 3-technique, if need be. Now, making the roster, and earning playing time is zero lock for Windsor. He will need to prove his value though in a role that might not see a ton of game action. Stewart, DeForest Buckner, Denico Autry, Sheldon Day and Tyquan Lewis make up an already deep group of defensive tackles.
- CB-Isaiah Rodgers (2-3): For Rodgers to make the team, he’s going to have to be a special teams contributor, as a gunner and/or return man. Defensively, the 5-10, 170-pound Rodgers should get a look at the backup nickel spot, a position where veteran T.J. Carrie could fit, too. It’s the special teams ability of Rodgers that some are intrigued by. Numbers at cornerback are decent for the Colts, so that’s another reason why Rodgers will need to establish himself on 4th down to make the team.
- WR-Dezmon Patmon (1-2): Considering Patmon only had 12 career starts in college, it’s hard to see him making an immediate impact as a pro. The Colts have 4 locks at wide receiver: T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal. Toss Patmon into the mix with Marcus Johnson, Reece Fountain, Ashton Dulin etc. in trying to fill out the 53-man roster.
- LB-Jordan Glasgow (4-5): Some might think this is too high of a number for Glasgow. But I expect Glasgow to make the 53-man roster and be a core special teamer from Day 1. The Colts view Glasgow as being able to transition immediately from a strong Big Ten special teams player to doing that in the pros. I see turnover at the back end of the linebacker position this year, with Glasgow making the team (not playing on defense) strictly for his special teams ability.
- Undrafted Class: Outside of kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, it’s hard to project any of the undrafted free agents as having a ‘good shot’ at making the team, with the abnormal offseason not helping their cause, as well. But Blankenship and Chase McLaughlin appear headed for a 1-on-1 battle for the kicking job.