Indianapolis Colts Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State – Round 2
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has hit it big in the second round with some excellent picks like running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and linebacker Shaq Leonard. In my final 2023 NFL Mock Draft, I had the Colts taking Brents high in the second round because he looked like a perfect fit for them. They ended up snatching up Brents when he fell to them early in the second night of the draft.

For the NFL, Brents (6-3, 198) is a press-man corner who can play on the outside and line up against big receivers. He has quality ball skills, height and length, plus does a good job of tackling. Brents gets very physical with receivers and uses his length to jam them at the line. Brents does a nice job of battling receivers while avoiding penalties. However, there is no doubt that Brents should be protected from lining up against speed receivers as a pro. Brents lacks deep speed, and if a receiver gets free of him, he does not have the speed to recover.

While Brents has speed limitations, those should be masked in the Colts’ scheme because defensive coordinator Gus Bradley calls a ton of zone coverage. That will give Brents help over the top and not put him in mismatch situations. While Brents may not be a boom pick, I think he is a safe bet to turn into a solid starter for the Colts.

2022: Bernhard Raimann, OT
2021: Kwity Paye, DE
2020: Michael Pittman, WR
2019: Rock Ya-Sin, CB
2018: Braden Smith, G
2017: Quincy Wilson, CB
2016: Ryan Kelly, C
2015: Henry Anderson, DE
2014: Andrew Jackson, LB
2013: Hugh Thornton, G

Most Likely To Bust

Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina – Round 3
This was a tough choice because the Colts are a good drafting team. Downs, howeer, is very undersized, and while he has speed, he could be limited to being a slot receiver. The 5-foot-9, 171-pounder could have a hard time staying healthy in the NFL and enduring tackles from NFL defenders. He also could have a hard time getting off jams and dealing with the physicality of pro defensive backs. Indianapolis has two good young starters in Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce, with Downs competing to be the third receiver against Isaiah McKenzie. Third-round picks are expected to be backups-to-starters, and Downs might fall short of that. Hence, I think he is the most likely pick to not pan out among Indianapolis’ early-round selections.

2022: Nick Cross, S
2021: Kylen Granson, TE
2020: Julian Blackmon, S
2019: Bobby Okereke, LB
2018: Kemoko Turay, LB
2017: Tarell Basham, DL
2016: Hassan Ridgeway, DT
2015: Clayton Geathers, S
2014: Jack Mewhort, G
2013: Khaled Holmes, C

Potential Boom Pick

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida – Round 1
Indianapolis was desperate to land a long-term franchise quarterback, and the team added a potential elite player in Richardson. Some of the ESPN “draft experts” said the Colts had Will Levis rated high, but throughout the leadup to the 2023 NFL Draft, I had the Colts taking Richardson or C.J. Stroud. After Stroud went to Houston, Richardson fell to the Colts, and he could be a real boom pick for them. There is no doubt that Richardson had the best skill set of any quarterback who was in the 2023 NFL Draft and his physical talent is far superior to that of Stroud, Bryce Young, or Levis.

Richard has a cannon for an arm, size, and some field vision to work though his progressions. With his elite arm, Richardson can go deep down the field or fire a bullet past defenders. His greatest asset as a passer is his deep ball. There were highlight-reel throws of Richardson dropping in beautiful passes downfield with air underneath them that had perfect placement to a receiver running deep. Part of what makes Richardson tough to evaluate, is that he would flash perfect accuracy on deep passes but demonstrate absolutely terrible accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field. Thus, Richardson is an enigma.

On top of the cannon for an arm, Richardson is an amazing runner. He is a great athlete who can dodge sacks in the pocket, but he is dynamic with the ball in his hands. Richardson cuts around defenders and has breakaway speed to rip off yards in chunks. Along with his speed and athleticism, Richardson is big with a strong build to give him power as a runner. Richardson’s running ability is rare and special.

Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen could be a perfect fit to help Richardson develop and improve his accuracy. Steichen worked wonders with Jalen Hurts, and did a great job with Justin Herbert as well. Richardson has a dynamic and rare skill set that could make him an elite quarterback. If Richardson improves his accuracy, he could be a huge boom pick for the Colts.

2022: Alec Pierce, WR
2021: Dayo Odeyingbo, DE
2020: Jonathan Taylor, RB
2019: Parris Campbell, WR
2018: Quenton Nelson, G
2017: Malik Hooker, S
2016: Le’Raven Clark, OT
2015: Philip Dorsett, WR
2014: Donte Moncrief, WR
2013: Bjoern Werner, DE

Future Depth Player

Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern – Round 4
Many had Adebawore projected to be a first-round pick, but throughout the leadup to the draft, I had him going on Day 2. At 6-foot-1, 280 pounds, Adebawore is very undersized as an interior defensive lineman for the NFL because he lacks the height, weight and length to match up against pro offensive linemen. With DeForest Buckner and Dayo Odeyingbo in place as the interior rushers, Adebawore will be a backup who rotates into the game to help keep them fresh. Given his size and smaller stature, Adebawore may not be a three-down starter, but I think he could be a solid rotational backup for the Colts.

2022: Jelani Woods, TE
2021: Sam Ehlinger, QB
2020: Jacob Eason, QB
2019: Khari Willis, S
2018: Nyheim Hines, RB
2017: Marlon Mack, RB
2016: Antonio Morrison, LB
2015: David Parry, DT
2014: John Ulrick, OT
2013: Montori Hughes, DT

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

4. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida – A- Grade
Many had Will Levis mocked to the Colts, but Charlie Campbell reported that Indianapolis wasn’t really interested. Anthony Richardson is a better fit for the Colts’ offense. He also has a higher floor because of his Justin Fields-type rushing ability. The Colts had to draft a franchise quarterback, and Richardson is a far superior choice compared to Levis.

44. Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State – A- Grade
The Colts traded away Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys, so cornerback was an obvious need. Julius Brents is a huge cornerback (6-3) who had plenty of fans during the pre-draft process. I like that Indianapolis traded down twice to acquire him.

79. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina – A Grade
The Colts lost Parris Campbell, so it makes sense that they’d go after a slot receiver. He’s a talented player who easily could have gone off the board a round earlier than this. I’m a big fan of this selection.

106. Blake Freeland, OT, BYU – A Grade
The Colts’ offensive line is not what it once was. Their blocking was poor at times last year, so offensive line help was needed with Anthony Richardson now under center. Blake Freeland is a very athletic tackle with tons of upside. He could have easily gone a round earlier than this.

110. Ade Adebawore, DE/DT, Northwestern – A+ Grade
The Colts are having a great start to Day 3. Ade Adebawore is a highly athletic defensive lineman who could have easily gone early on Day 2. He’ll help with the pass rush to combat Trevor Lawrence.

138. Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina – A+ Grade
I love this pick. The Colts really needed another cornerback, and Darius Rush provides great value as a prospect I had in my third round. He’s a big and fast cornerback with plenty of potential.

158. Daniel Scott, S, California – A- Grade
Daniel Scott is an athletic player with good size, but the production didn’t match at California. Perhaps the Colts can get him to live up to his potential. I like the value for Scott, whom I had in the fourth round.

162. Will Mallory, TE, Miami – C Grade
It makes sense that the Colts would add a tight end to provide competition at the position. Will Mallory is a gifted athlete, but disappointed during his time in Miami. Perhaps the Colts can coach him up.

176. Evan Hull, RB, Northwestern – B- Grade
I don’t think the Colts really needed another running back, but Evan Hull is a solid prospect at this spot of the draft. He’s a tough runner who will give maximum effort. Perhaps he’ll be able to emerge as a No. 2 back one day.

211. Titus Leo, DE/OLB, Wagner – B- Grade
Titus Leo has potential as an athletic pass rusher. Obviously, the competition at Wagner wasn’t the best, so he’ll need to prove that he belongs in the NFL.

221. Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M – A+ Grade
Jaylon Jones is an instinctive cornerback with good speed and athleticism. He also provides major value for a Colts team that really needed cornerback help. I had Jones in the third round, so I love this value.

236. Jake Witt, OT, Northern Michigan – B Grade
Jake Witt was drawing some late interest as a final-round pick, so I’m not surprised to see him be drafted at this spot. Jake Witt is a lengthy and athletic lineman, but needs to get much stronger for the pros.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: A. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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