We hear the same slang used every year around draft time. “This player is a Chris Ballard-type of guy” or “This player just feels like a pick that the Indianapolis Colts would make.”
While this is likely said about far too many players each draft cycle, we do know enough about this front office to circle players that fit a particular mold that the team looks for. You all can read back on my Build-A-Ballard series for more specifics, but GM Chris Ballard certainly has his types in the draft.
The Colts have traditionally valued explosive athletes in Ballard’s tenure. They place a premium on senior players, especially players that appeared in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The team typically seeks out high-upside players that are well-built for the position they play (eg. receivers that are over 6’0″ and 200 pounds).
Off the field, the Colts traditionally like to look at players that were team captains or players that held a major leadership role in the locker room. With all of these specific traits in mind, which players fit the Colts perfectly in this draft cycle?
Today, I talk about one player at each position that perfectly fits what the Colts typically like in the draft.
Quarterback: Brock Purdy, Iowa State
weight: 212 pounds
Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.84 seconds / Vertical Jump: 27 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.45 seconds / 7.21 seconds
Pro Comp: Brandon Allen (Cincinnati Bengals)
Overview: I won’t spend too much time on this one, as I think it is highly unlikely that the Colts spend another day three pick on a quarterback after the selection of Sam Ehlinger in 2021.
Purdy is an undersized passer that doesn’t possess the biggest arm. Where he does succeed is in his short accuracy, his mobility, and his leadership abilities. If this FO felt strongly enough about Ehlinger to draft him last year, then they probably have some interest in a player like Purdy.
Running Back: Zonovan Knight, NC State
weight: 209 pounds
Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.58 seconds / Vertical Jump: 33 inches / Broad Jump: 114 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.407 seconds / 6.95 seconds
Pro Comp: Ryquell Armstead (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Overview: While the Colts are seemingly set at running back for the near and distant future, it never hurts to add talent to an offensive backfield. Knight may never be an every down back in the NFL, but he is a shifty player with a ton of special teams upside.
Knight was a highly productive college player that showed his worth on special teams at NC State. His three career kickoff return touchdowns are a current school record and he also contributed in other areas of special teams play. In Knight, the Colts would be getting a core-four player that offers some upside as an offensive weapon.
Wide Receiver: Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
weight: 211 pounds
Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.41 seconds / Vertical: 40.5 inches / Broad Jump: 129 inches / 3-Cone: 7.13 seconds / Short-Shuttle: 4.28 seconds
Pro Comp: DJ Chark (Detroit Lions)
Overview: I have been pounding this drum for the entire offseason, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Alec Pierce is a Chris Ballard wide receiver built in a lab. He legitimately fits every single trait that the team looks for.
On the field, Pierce is an explosive vertical threat that works his tail off as a blocker. He is a well-built player with excellent size and athleticism on the outside. Off of the field, he was a team leader at Cincinnati and participated in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. I don’t know how high the team currently has Pierce stacked in this deep class, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t one of their top players on the board at pick 42 come draft time.
Tight End: Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
weight: 250 pounds
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Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.81 seconds / Bench Press: 15 / Vertical Jump: 31.5 inches / Broad Jump: 118 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.48 seconds / 3-Cone: 7.03 seconds
Pro Comp: Jack Doyle (Fmr. Indianapolis Colts)
Overview: The Colts lost one of their long-time staples this offseason with the retirement of Jack Doyle. While it will be almost impossible to replace his impact on the field, and in the locker room, Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson is the draft’s best option to replace him.
Ferguson is a Doyle clone in many ways– from the number he wears to the way that he plays the game. He isn’t a flashy athlete by any means, but he is a strong blocker and a safe outlet for a quarterback in the passing game. If the Colts trust the development of Kylen Granson into the ‘F’ tight end role, Ferguson would be an excellent pick to fill the ‘Y’ role.
Offensive Tackle: Abraham Lucas, Washington State
weight: 315 pounds
Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.92 seconds / Bench Press: 15 / Vertical Jump: 29 inches / Broad Jump: 113 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.40 seconds / 3-Cone: 7.25 seconds
Pro Comp: Duane Brown (Seattle Seahawks)
Overview: While there isn’t an absolutely perfect Colts’ fit at offensive tackle in this class, Washington State’s Abraham Lucas comes pretty close. He is an elite athlete at a monstrous size, which are two things that the team covets at the position.
On top of his high-end traits, Lucas is a battle-tested senior that started just about every game in his collegiate career. He is a strong pass blocker that has shown the ability to improve in the run game. He may not be ready on day one, but his elite traits should be tantalizing for a team in need of a long-term left tackle.
Guard: Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
weight: 321 pounds
Test Numbers: Vertical Jump: 24 inches / Broad Jump: 98 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.70 seconds
Pro Comp: Matt Pryor (Indianapolis Colts)
Overview: While I have Salyer graded out as a tackle in this class, the NFL seems ready to move him to the inside. I have no problem with this decision at all, as Salyer’s abilities should translate well to the interior.
One common trend that the Colts love when it comes to offensive line prospects is versatility. They value depth players that can play multiple positions across the line (Danny Pinter, Will Fries). Salyer has experience at all five positions on the offensive line, and he has shown good tape in each role. On top of that, his mauler attitude would fit in perfectly with the team’s culture in the trenches.
Center: Zach Tom, Wake Forest
weight: 304 pounds
Test Numbers: 40 Time: 4.94 seconds / Bench Press: 15 / Vertical Jump: 33 inches / Broad Jump: 118 inches / Short-Shuttle: 4.47 seconds / 3-Cone: 7.32 seconds
Pro Comp: Danny Pinter (Indianapolis Colts)
Overview: With the Colts moving backup center Danny Pinter to right guard for this upcoming season, the team now has a vacancy at a key depth spot. Luckily, there is a player in this draft that is nearly identical to Pinter when he came out of college.
Tom, like Pinter, is a college left tackle that likely fits better at the center position. His biggest issues on film are lack of size/strength, but that can be masked a bit better on the inside. Tom would be an ideal interior backup in the Colts’ diverse run scheme, as he has the athletic upside to handle Ryan Kelly’s role should the veteran go down with an injury. Don’t be surprised if the Colts look to add a player like Tom on day three of this draft.
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