INDIANAPOLIS – A quick wrap-up of the Indianapolis Colts’ work in the first three rounds of the NFL draft?
The No. 4 overall pick in Thursday’s first round delivered the quarterback of the future in Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
Rounds 2 and 3 were similarly productive and addressed needs.
General manager Chris Ballard invested his second-round pick (No. 44 after a pair of trade-downs with the Raiders and Atlanta) in Kansas State cornerback JuJu Brents. The Warren Central H.S. product and first Warrior drafted by the Colts since Jeff George, who was No. 1 overall in 1990, reinforces a thin position group.
Round 3 (No. 79) was used on North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs. He’s small in stature – 5-10, 175 pounds – but was ultra-productive with 202 receptions, 2,483 yards and 22 touchdowns in 34 games with the Tar Heels.
“Two really good players that fit us,’’ Ballard said late Friday after adding Brents and Downs. “Talent matched the need.’’
The 6-3, 198-pound Brents brings length and athleticism to Gus Bradley’s defense. The Colts intend to use more press coverage in 2023, which is a strength of Brents.
“There’s not a lot of guys 6-3 playing corner in the league,’’ Ballard said. “But he’s a really good athlete. He’s a really good fit for what we want to do.’’
The only downside is Brents still is recovering from surgery to repair a broken wrist. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in late July, but won’t be able to participate in on-field activities until then.
Ballard was somewhat surprised he was able to grab Downs.
“We didn’t expect him to be there,’’ he said. “We actually tried to move up for about 30 minutes to try and get him and we just couldn’t get up.’’
Position coach Reggie Wayne became a fan of Downs during the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Ballard was on the field watching the quarterbacks throw when Wayne approached him. Wayne had been in involved with working out the receivers.
“Reggie came over and said, ‘Man, this Josh Downs . . . just incredible,’’’ Ballard said.
“Being able to get Josh Downs, that was a bonus. We wanted to add more speed. The size at the end of the day really didn’t matter. He is a good complement to what we have.’’
The two trade-downs upped Ballard’s draft-day trades to 20 since he became GM in 2017. The Colts have eight in rounds 4-7, including four in round 5.
“Yeah, more shots,’’ Ballard said. “How many do we have tomorrow? Eight? We think there’s still more really good players.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.