Indianapolis Colts 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Mason Thompson May 4, 2021 0 comments
The Indianapolis Colts are usually one of the best teams in the draft each year. Chris Ballard and Ed Dodds are two of the best in the business at finding value and addressing it in the draft. Entering the draft, Indianapolis had needs at left tackle, receiver, tight end, pass-rusher, cornerback, and defensive line. The Colts were a team many projected to trade down from their original slot at 21, but that didn’t come to fruition, and Indianapolis only traded down once on day three of the draft.
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
Best Pick: Kwity Paye (Round 1, Pick 21)
It was a surprise to many when Indianapolis didn’t trade down on Thursday night and an even bigger one when this pick wasn’t a tackle. With Christian Darrisaw, Teven Jenkins, and Samuel Cosmi on the board, the Colts opted to go in a different direction by taking the lengthy pass-rusher at 21. Pass-rusher was perhaps an even bigger need for Indianapolis than finding a left tackle due to the departures of Denico Autry and Justin Houston, who accumulated for 15.5 of the sacks Indianapolis had last year. Paye has lots growing to do but pairing him with DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, Grover Stewart, and Bobby Okereke in the front seven gives Indianapolis many young stars defensively.
For more on Paye, read our scouting report on him here.
Worst Pick: Sam Ehlinger (Round 6, Pick 218)
This isn’t as much about Ehlinger as a player to where the Colts are roster-wise. Indianapolis has Carson Wentz set as the starter, with Jacob Eason as the backup and developmental option. Ehlinger is a good third quarterback, but the Colts hadn’t taken an offensive lineman or cornerback yet at the point. Ehlinger will likely be the third quarterback on the roster and stay awhile, but Indianapolis could have at least had a dart throw at a player at a position of need.
For more on Ehlinger, read our scouting report on him here.
Sleeper Pick: Mike Strachan (Round 7, Pick 229)
While there were more notable receivers on the board at this selection, Strachan fits exactly what the Colts look for with their receivers. At 6’5″, 228, Strachan provides another big-bodied receiver on the boundary for Wentz to throw to. His 4.46 40 time paired with his 85″ wingspan makes him a threat in redzone situations as well. Strachan could find some immediate playing time as Indianapolis has dealt with injuries to their receiving core over the last few seasons.
The Colts had a few head-scratching moves in terms of value and need. Indianapolis didn’t take an offensive lineman until their final selection. The offensive line has a lot of depth on the interior, so maybe a guy like Danny Pinter can make the move to left tackle if the team doesn’t pick up the recently released Charles Leno Jr. The left tackle battle is currently between Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport, which doesn’t sound the greatest.
Attacking the front seven with Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo was an excellent decision if neither selection was a tackle. Odeyingbo can play all over the defensive line, and while he may not play the first few months because of an injury suffered in the pre-draft process, the pick is a solid one. Kylen Granson was an excellent choice in the fourth round and appears to be the favorite as the 2022 starter at tight end, with Jack Doyle not getting any younger.
The selections of Shawn Davis and Will Fries add depth to positions that seem to be set with their starters. Fries could battle for a roster spot as one of the last picks in the entire draft. Indianapolis added some intriguing undrafted free agents at the receiver spot with Tyler Vaughns and Tarik Black. Deon Jackson was their prized signing, as the Colts gave the Duke running back a $22,000 signing bonus. The players the Colts were solid, but not grabbing a left tackle or cornerback is a bit of a downer.
Overall Grade: B