We have officially made it to “Draft Week.”
The NFL Draft finally kicks off on Thursday night. It’s an incredible weekend where young men realize their dreams, and teams attempt to acquire players who will have a positive impact on their franchise.
Unfortunately for the Indianapolis Colts, they will have to wait until Day 2 to get their draft started. The Colts forfeited their first-round pick this year to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Carson Wentz trade last spring.
The Colts come into the draft with plenty of holes to address. With TY Hilton still a free agent and Jack Doyle retiring, the Colts lack weapons on the outside for quarterback Matt Ryan. The long-term solution at left tackle is still up in the air, as well.
A couple of weeks ago, I released my Colts Mock Draft 1.0. After watching more movies and hearing from Chris Ballard and Frank Reich last week, it’s time to release the final version of my Colts Mock Draft. You can get a more in-depth look at these prospects in the Indy Draft Guide at the link here or at the bottom of this mock draft.
Round 2 Pick 42: WR George Pickens – Georgia
George Pickens was my pick at 42 last time and continues to be the top choice for the Colts. At 6’3 ”and 201 pounds with a 77-inch wingspan, Pickens is a big-bodied wide receiver with an insane catch radius who can go up and get any ball. While his 4.47 40-yard dash doesn’t demonstrate blazing speed, he plays much faster and ran away from the competition in the SEC.
After combining for 85 catches for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns in his freshman and sophomore years, Pickens tore his ACL in 2021 spring practice and missed most of his junior season. He did return towards the end of the Bulldogs’ national championship run but saw limited action. His performance at the NFL Combine and Georgia’s pro day saw him healthy and back to form.
Pickens would be a perfect fit with the Colts, providing a great compliment to the wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and giving the Colts two legitimate threats on the outside. He embodies every single trait that the Colts want in their players and is a rugged, old-school receiver. While Ballard and Reich have talked about the faith they have in their current wideout group, I can’t see the Colts passing on Pickens if he is available at 42.
Round 3 Pick 73: TE Cade Otton – Washington
Cade Otton is a tight end that fits what the Colts need to round out their group. At 6’5 ”and 250 pounds, Otton is a big, reliable target over the middle of the field with velcro-like hands. As the son of a coach, he understands the game well and is known for playing with toughness and intelligence.
Otton was a contributor at Washington from the moment they reached the field. Over four years and 39 games played, Otton tallied 91 catches for 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns. He is also stout in the running game, using great technique and leverage to have a major impact as a blocker.
Indy has an obvious hole at tight end with Doyle’s retirement. While many fans want a mismatch “F” tight end, the Colts are high on Kylen Granson to be that guy and take on a bigger role. The more likely option is an inline “Y” tight end, which Otton would fit very well.
Otton may not be a mismatch at the tight end or someone that can take over a game, but they can be counted on to make the smart play and catch a crucial pass on the third down. His football character and participation at the Senior Bowl are pluses for the Colts. Otton’s strengths match those of Doyle, and they could turn into the Colts’ next version of the former Pro Bowler.
Round 4 Pick 122: OT Matt Waletzko – North Dakota
The Colts address the offensive line with their first pick on Day 3 with Matt Waletzko. Waletzko has a huge tackle prospect at 6’8 ”and 312 pounds with an 86-inch wingspan that allows him to initiate contact on most of his reps. Even though Waletzko went to an FCS school, he participated in the Senior Bowl and was impressive against top talent.
Waletzko started his last 29 games at left tackle at North Dakota, earning Second-Team All American honors in his senior year as a team captain. He is a phenomenal athlete who excels at run blocking, looking very comfortable in space on screens and pulls. In pass protection, Waletzko has the speed and footwork to stay in front of speed rushers, but is still quite raw and needs time and coaching to put everything together.
The Indy Draft Guide describes Waletzko as a “moldable ball of clay” who has all of the physical traits needed to have success at tackle in the NFL. While having plenty of room to grow in pass protection, Waletzko already has great skills in the running game and would be able to open up holes for Jonathan Taylor. Waletzko would be a nice addition for the Colts, where he could refine his skills and maybe even compete with Matt Pryor for the starting left tackle spot down the line.
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Round 5 Pick 159: DL Thomas Booker – Stanford
Thomas Booker becomes the Colts’ first defensive pick in this year’s draft. Booker, a two-time team captain for the Cardinal, stands at 6’3 ”and 301 pounds. He has both outside and inside versatility along the defensive line, something the Colts love with their defensive line.
Booker racked up 10 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in four seasons at Stanford. He has good explosion off the line of scrimmage and strong hands to combat offensive linemen. While he is still trying to fill out his frame and lacks elite length, Booker would be a nice depth piece along the defensive line. The Colts have also had quite a bit of contact with Booker during this draft cycle.
“An experienced athlete across the defensive line, Thomas Booker is a fit in multiple schemes across the NFL,” explains the Indy Draft Guide. “From the Colts’ standpoint, he profiles favorably to former Colt Hassan Ridgeway as an impactful run-stopping defensive tackle in an even front who can also provide some juice as a pass rusher overall. He’d fit in well behind Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner as a No. 3 interior defensive tackle like Taylor Stallworth was in 2021. ”
Round 5 Pick 179: WR Bo Melton – Rutgers
Bo Melton is the Colts’ second wide receiver taken in this draft. While Melton is a little smaller than the Colts typically go at wideout at 5’11 ”and 190 pounds, he possesses blazing speed. His 4.34 40-yard dash time was one of the fastest times recorded at this year’s NFL Combine.
Melton used his speed and route-running ability to lead the Rutgers in receiving his final three years, totaling 164 catches for 2,011 yards and 11 touchdowns. He creates separation with quick movements in and out of his breaks and is a threat after the catch, something the Colts love in their wide receivers. Melton was a team captain at Rutgers and also attended the Senior Bowl.
Melton would be a great pick for the Colts in the fifth round. While he may not be a big contributor to offense right away, they would immediately make an impact on special teams. This gives him a leg up on some of the other receivers on the Colts who do not play special teams, and gives him a better shot at a role on this team while he works on refining his game.
Round 6 Pick 216: CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart – USC
The Colts pick up some secondary help in the sixth round with the long cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart. Taylor-Stuart has the size and length that the Colts covet in their corners at 6’2 ”and 201 pounds with 32-inch arms. He also ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and had a 36.5-inch vertical at his pro day.
The USC product uses his speed to stay with receivers, and his length helps him make plays on the ball. He is also a willing tackler in the running game and hardly misses tackles. His biggest asset early in his career may be his special teams ability, as Taylor-Stuart played on punt coverage all four years at USC as a gunner.
Taylor-Stuart has a long way to go in his development if he wants to be more than a depth piece. However, the Colts have a need at the cornerback in terms of depth, and Ballard is always looking for guys that contribute on special teams with his Day 3 picks. Taylor-Stuart would fit both.
Round 7 Pick 239: IOL Cordell Volson – North Dakota State
The Colts end the draft by getting some depth along the interior of the offensive line. Cordell Volson played tackle at North Dakota State but will now likely shift inside to guard in the NFL. He started his last 41 games for the Bison, was a two-time team captain, and played at the East-West Shrine Bowl, where the Colts had numerous offensive coaches, including offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, participating on the staff.
At 6’6 ”and 315 pounds with an 82.5-inch wingspan, Volson has a huge presence along the offensive line. He is a mauler in the running game and overpowers his opponents through the whistle. In pass protection, they are hard to get around because of his large frame and wraps up pass rushers at the point of attack.
While Volson is not the best athlete, they would be a nice addition to add depth to a group that needs it. They possess the playing style, character, and size of the Colts love with their linemen. Volson, along with Will Fries, would give the Colts two solid backup options along the interior of the offensive line.
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