Mock Draft: At No. 21, Colts have plenty of options

Sports

Indianapolis Colts’ Trey Burton (80) celebrates a touchdown reception with Jack Doyle (84) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS – As the NFL Draft approaches – yes, it’ll eventually get here – one thing remains abundantly clear: there’s no consensus on what Chris Ballard plans to do.

And that’s the way it should be. A general manager who tips his hand in any significant personnel matters should find another line of work.

The Indianapolis Colts hold six picks in the April 29-May 1 draft, including the 21st overall selection, and need to address several critical areas: left tackle, edge rusher, tight end, cornerback, wideout.

If you do a quick survey of the zillion mock drafts, analysts agree with which areas are most pressing for Indy. But there’s no agreement on which player best suits the Colts in round 1.

The 11 mock drafts we’ve listed have narrowed things down to three positions – offensive tackle, edge rusher, corner – but consist of eight different players. The prospects showing up twice: Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins and edge rushers Jaelen Phillips of Miami and Jayson Oweh of Penn State.

Here’s a look:

JOE HOPKINS, FOX59/CBS4

  • The pick: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
  • Comment: Anthony Castonzo’s retirement left a canyon-sized void at left tackle that cannot be filled with low-level veteran signings. Jenkins is a bulldozer of a lineman whose nasty demeanor would fit the identity of an offensive line highlighted by Quenton Nelson.

MEL KIPER JR., ESPN

  • The pick: DE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
  • Comment: With my first-round offensive tackles all picked, Indianapolis should address its pass rush, even if it does bring back Justin Houston. Phillips might be the best pure pass-rusher in this class, but he needs to improve his all-around game. He also has some durability concerns – he had multiple concussions at UCLA before he transferred to Miami – which means his medical checks with teams are extremely important.

DANE BRUGLER, The Athletic

  • Trade back: In a possible scenario, Brugler has Chris Ballard trading back with Buffalo. The Colts move from No. 21 to No. 30 and receive three Bills’ picks in this year’s draft: round 1 (30th), round 3 (93rd) and round 5.

For what it’s worth, we’d approve of this. Indy addresses its left tackle situation, recoups a third-rounder they sent to Philly as part of the Carson Wentz trade and adds another late-round pick.

  • The pick: OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
  • Comment: Several of the Colts’ options at left tackle were scooped up before their pick at No. 21, but in this scenario they are able to move back, pick up extra draft picks and land a solid tackle option. Eichenberg has only average athletic traits, but his veteran awareness and strong hands help him win the point-of-attack.

TODD McSHAY, ESPN

  • The pick: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
  • Comment: The Colts lost Denico Autry to the division-rival Titans and Justin Houston remains unsigned. That means DeForest Buckner is the only player with at least five sacks in 2020 set to return for 2021. Indy’s defensive strength is a big part of its identity and Paye has explosive speed off the edge. The production hasn’t caught up to the ability just yet, but his ceiling is very high. Alternatively, the Colts could target a defensive back or maybe reach a little bit for a receiver.

DANIEL JEREMIAH, NFL.com

  • The pick: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
  • Comment: Indianapolis has a hole at left tackle in the wake of Anthony Castonzo’s retirement. Darrisaw can slide right in and be a starter at the position.

PETER SCHRAGER, FOXSports.com

  • The pick: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
  • Comment: Horn gave up just eight catches on passes thrown in his direction last year, per Pro Football Focus. He has a professional build and competitive spirit. This defense’s tone is set by Darius Leonard. Horn would match that fire on the back end.

RYAN WILSON, CBS Sports

  • The pick: DE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  • Comment: DeForest Buckner and Justin Houston were No. 1 and No. 2 in sacks for Indy last season. Buckner is a defensive tackle and Houston, an edge rusher, is a free agent. While offensive tackle is on the to-do list, Ojulari, who is the most complete edge rusher in this class, makes sense here.

SAM MONSON, Pro Football Focus

  • The pick: DE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
  • Comment: The Colts have targeted athletic playmakers on defense over the past couple of seasons under general manager Chris Ballard, and while they haven’t all panned out, the team has an impressive hit rate. At 6-5 and 257 pounds, Jayson Oweh ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at Penn State’s Pro Day and even adjusting for the home-track boost, that’s a phenomenal time. When paired with a broad jump over 11 feet and a three-cone time in the 6.8s, Oweh had five different speed or explosion measures ranked in the 95th percentile or better. His college pass-rush grades haven’t quite matched that ability, with back-to-back seasons around 80.0, but that is the type of player the Colts love, chasing the high-end production they believe they can find in elite athletes.

TREVOR SIKKEMA, The Draft Network

  • The pick: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
  • Comment: The Colts could go a number of different directions with their first pick, but as of right now they have a hole at left tackle due to long-time left tackle Anthony Castonzo retiring. Jenkins has played the last two seasons at right tackle, but he has experience at left tackle, too. He and Quenton Nelson on the same side of the line spell so much destruction for opposing defenses.

GLYNN MORGAN, NBC Sports

  • The pick: DE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
  • Comment: It’s possible edge rushing prospects like Greg Rousseau and Kwity Paye won’t be available for Indy, but Phillips offers a fantastic blend of power, length, quickness and scheme versatility those two don’t. Nagging injuries dogged him earlier in his career at UCLA until he revitalized his abilities this past season at Miami. Phillips is strong against the run, especially with backside containment. He’s a diverse defender who can compete as a 4-3 defensive end or standing as an edge rusher in a 3-4 alignment.

LANCE ZIERLEIN, NFL.com

  • The pick: DE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
  • Comment: GM Chris Ballard could opt for cornerback help, but he usually looks to build the fronts. Not many men walk the Earth with Oweh’s size and athletic profile. Ballard just might swing the bat on pass rush here.

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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