The 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye.
The Colts and GM Chris Ballard began last Thursday with a total of seven picks, but through multiple trades ended up selecting nine players by Saturday’s end.
Rick Venturi was back on The Ride With JMV on Monday to break down Indy’s first four picks and what they can bring to the roster. Let’s just say the man knows a thing or two about Colts football. He essentially predicted last week’s Trey Burton signing. So without further ado…
Michael Pittman, Jr. (WR, USC) – Round 2, Pick 34
What he brings to Indy:
“Pittman will be a great fit here. I think Pittman is an ideal number two receiver in the National Football League. I think he’s a guy that…he’s big, he’s tall, but he also has girth, he has width. He has great hands, he’s not gonna drop the ball. He bullied a lot of guys in college, made a lot of 50/50 catches. He has really, really good body control, runs good routes.”
“He’s a 4.69 on the three-cone. Now what does that mean? That means he’s really smooth. That means he’s fluid. He can turn his hips, he can move, he can get in and out. And he has an exceptional short-shuttle: 4.14. That’s really, really good, particularly for that size (6’4”, 223 pounds). That means he has in-line quickness. That means he can get in a break and get out of a break.”
“This is a guy that has great character…great pedigree. He has all those attributes that you want on this team…He just plays the game the way it should be played.”
“He is a lot of what [the Colts] need. He gives us that big body bank board guy on the weak side…He will not create separation with speed and explosiveness. He creates ‘body’ separation.”
Sounds like there’s a lot to like. How the heck did Pittman fall to the Colts?
“The reason that he ended up in the second round…is he just doesn’t have a sixth gear. He doesn’t have elite speed. That’s the only thing that prevents him from just being sensational.”
Pittman’s NFL comparison: Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton
“You can just say right now, ‘Pittman is my number two guy’.”
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin) – Round 2, Pick 41
What he brings to Indy:
“I love Taylor. Taylor, to me, was unquestionably the number one running back. I think he is an elite skill guy…this is a guy who’s production is 6,000 yards [in college].”
“I think he’s powerful. I think he has the ability to cut with vision. He can make people miss. With that 4.39 (40-yard dash), he can take it to the house. People say, ‘well, he has tread on the tire’. Hell yeah, I’m not worried about 2028. What I’m getting here is a guy that’s durable…we need guys that are durable.”
“I just think that Taylor is an elite player…if you look at Taylor’s tape, it’s NFL plays. It’s all things that we run here in Indianapolis with an outstanding offense line and tight end blocking corps. This is an absolutely perfect offense [for him]. He fits immediately. I think you will get instant impact from him. There’s no question about it, he’s one of my favorite picks in the draft…I think this is one of the real game-breakers in the league.”
Now that’s high praise. The one issue Venturi mentioned with Taylor was his tendency to put the ball on the ground, but he said that comes with the high volume of carries at Wisconsin.
So is this the last year we’ll see Marlon Mack in the Colts backfield?
“It’s hard to say, but that could very well be possible. Again, I love Marlon on my team…I think that the ceiling for Taylor is much higher.”
“The problem with Marlon Mack – there’s no disrespect to Mack… – but he’s not a 16-Sunday guy.”
It’s clear Venturi loves the Colts’ first two selections, but he has some concerns with the third and fourth round picks.
Julian Blackmon (S, Utah) – Round 3, Pick 85
“I think [the Colts] love him. They love him a lot more than I love him. I like him.”
“Blackmon is a kid who was a corner until his senior year. He was an average to below-average corner, but he’s played a lot of man-to-man coverage, and I like that transition. I like safeties in modern day football that were corners first…I think he’s much tougher than Hooker…Blackmon is a guy that will hit you, he will tackle.”
“He’s a guy that I think is a little shaky on angles…I always felt like when I watched him on tape, he was always in the neighborhood, but he didn’t always make a play when he should’ve.”
“I think he’s a guy that is developmental. You’ll like a lot of the tools that he has. But if you combine that with the ACL…you’re talking about a guy that you’re really not gonna get anything here out of his rookie year.”
Final thoughts on the pick:
“You walked by some guys that I feel like could have really helped you more in 2020. Considering all things, I think he was over-drafted, but [Ballard] over-drafted Leonard and that worked out…”
Jacob Eason (QB, Washington) – Round 4, Pick 122
”[The Colts] had this kid Eason rated higher than anybody else in the league…If you’re gonna gamble on the quarterback – it’s not like it’s the end of the world, just know what you’re getting.”
2 things that set Eason apart:
“He’s big, and he’s got a big arm…He’s 6’6”, he’s got that tremendous arm. He plays the position like a blacksmith to me. It’s like he’s got a sledgehammer at quarterback. He does throw a really good deep ball and he can kind of adjust it.”
2 things Eason struggles with:
“Intermediate [routes]. The digs, the outs, the throws that you have to make in the NFL he has been terribly inaccurate on…and he has really struggled with inside pressure. I think I saw a stat on him where he was the second-worst quarterback in the country versus pressure.”
“Number one thing is he’s been an underachiever everywhere he’s been. Don’t expect all of a sudden that that changes…he’s never come to the level of expectancy, which is a big red flag.”
“He’s not a very good athlete. There’s a misconception on that. He ran a 4.89 (40-yard dash), he ran a 7.5 (3-cone drill), and he ran a 4.75 short shuttle. I could run a 4.75 short shuttle. Those are terrible numbers. So don’t think here you’re getting a great athlete. Some people have said Carson Palmer at [Eason’s] ceiling. I think most people think it’s more like Brock Osweiler to tell you the truth.”
“I don’t think anybody that’s been around him feels like he, number one, can own a room like a great quarterback and, number two, that his ethic has been the best. The good news for the Colts is that he doesn’t have to do anything right now. From an emotional standpoint, he couldn’t be in a better room for growth over time.”
It seems that Eason has just about nowhere to go but up from here.
On the flip side, Venturi’s biggest takeaway from this year’s draft is quite promising:
“In those first two rounds, counting Buckner, you really have three starters who could make a difference.”
For more great Colts content, subscribe to The Ride with JMV Podcast