INDIANAPOLIS — After months of evaluation, speculation and anticipation, the NFL Draft has finally arrived.
Like 31 other teams, the Indianapolis Colts will be busy trying to improve their roster. Indy currently has seven selections in this year’s draft, with their first pick coming in the second round. The Colts’ first round pick was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s trade to acquire Carson Wentz. Still, it’s possible the team trades back into round 1 if a player they’re infatuated with slips far enough.
Positions of Need
Indianapolis has already made several additions this offseason that are expected to make a major impact, including quarterback Matt Ryan, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Rodney McLeod. However, several areas of concern remain.
The most glaring hole on the roster is at wide receiver. While Michael Pittman Jr. broke out in 2021 with a 1,000-yard season, the Colts were the only team in the league to not have two players with at least 385 receiving yards. Zach Pascal — who has since signed with Philly — was second on the team with 384 yards, and T.Y. Hilton — who remains a free agent — was third among Indy’s receivers with 331.
“You want as many playmakers as you can get,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Friday. “Do we need to add? Yeah, we do.”
Left tackle and tight end also stand out as positions of need after the team lost starters at each spot. Tackle Eric Fisher remains unsigned after deciding to test the free agent market, leaving Matt Pryor — who was solid when called upon last season — penciled in as the projected starter. Jack Doyle retired this offseason after nine seasons as the Colts’ tight end, handing the reins over to Mo Alie-Cox and 2021 fourth-round pick Kylen Granson.
Other areas the Colts could look to address are linebacker, cornerback and interior offensive line depth.
April 30, 6:04 p.m.
The Colts used the 239th pick on safety Rodney Thomas II out of Yale. This is the third position Indy doubled up on in this draft after the team picked two defensive tackles and two tight ends. Indianapolis is now out of draft selections in this draft. Thomas II had 2 interceptions each of his past three seasons. At 6’1″, 196 lbs, Thomas II run a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and posted a 41″ vertical.
Pro Football Focus: Thomas II earned a career-best 81.4 run defense grade in 2021.
April 30, 5:13 p.m.
The Colts used the 216th pick to select defensive tackle Curtis Brooks of Cincinnati. Brooks is a bit undersized at 6’2″, 287 lbs, but he tested well with a 4.9-second 40-yard dash and 35.5″ vertical. He put together his best season in his fifth and final year with the Bearcats with 7.5 sacks, 56 total tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Pro Football Focus: Brooks had 43 quarterback pressures last season and earned a 90.4 pass rush grade.
April 30, 4:11 p.m.
The Colts doubled down at tight end in this draft by selecting Andrew Ogletree out of Youngstown State with the 192nd overall pick. Ogletree is another impressive athlete who ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash at 6’5″, 260 lbs. He pulled in 28 catches for 282 yards in 2021. While he has a lot of developing to do as a player, the Colts are betting on his athletic upside.
April 30, 2:38 p.m.
The Colts use the 159th overall pick on defensive tackle Eric Johnson from Missouri State. He becomes the first Missouri State player drafted in more than a decade. Johnson has an explosive first step, great length and tested well at his pro day, where he ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash at 6’4″, 299 pounds. He enters the defensive line rotation behind DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart.
Pro Football Focus: Johnson earned a career-best 86.7 run defense grade last season.
April 29, 11:05 p.m.
The Colts traded the 179th overall pick and a 2023 third round pick to the Denver Broncos for the 96th overall pick, which they used to select Maryland safety Nick Cross. The Colts clearly set out to draft players with elite traits because cross is another pick with jaw-dropping athleticism. He dominated the NFL Combine with a 4.34-second 40-yard dash, 37″ vertical and 130″ broad jump. Cross is a hard-hitting defensive back who explodes to the ball carrier with bad intentions. He maybe be an eventual replacement to safety Khari Willis, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Pro Football Focus: Cross earned a 83.9 overall grade since 2019, fifth best among Big Ten safeties. PFF also gave him a 81.4 coverage grade.
April 29, 10:08 p.m.
The Colts add Central Michigan offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann with the 77th overall pick. Raimann transitioned from tight end to tackle in 2020 and is developing as a blocker, but he has the athleticism to excel once coached up. Aside from being a bit raw, the other knock against the Austrian native is a lack of length (32 7/8″ arms). With Matt Pryor penciled in as the Colts’ left tackle for 2022, the 6’6″, 303-pound Raimann can serve as a backup swing tackle until he’s ready to handle starting duties.
Pro Football Focus: Raimann gave up just one sack since switching to tackle and earned a 94.6 overall grade last year.
April 29, 8:42 p.m.
The Colts selected Virginia tight end Jelani Woods with the 73rd overall pick. Like their first selection, Pierce, Woods is an athletic specimen. His Combine numbers opened eyes as he ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at 6’7, 253 lbs. Woods came to Oklahoma as a quarterback before transitioning to tight end. After the Sooners used him in a limited role, Woods transferred to Virginia in 2021 and earned first-team All-ACC honors with 44 receptions for 598 yards (13.6 per) and 8 touchdowns.
Pro Football Focus: Woods earned a 82.2 overall grade in 2021, first among ACC tight ends.
April 29, 8:42 p.m.
With the 53rd overall pick, the Colts selected wide receiver Alec Pierce from Cincinnati. Pierce is a tremendous athlete who impressed as the NFL Combine with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash and 40.5″ vertical at 6’3″, 211 lbs. He was the Bearcats’ top receiver in 2021 with 52 catches for 884 yards and 8 touchdowns. Pierce uses his size and speed to make big plays down the field and has a 17.5 yards per catch average to show for it. The knock against him is route running, where he needs further development.
Pro Football Focus: Pierce had 13 contested catches last season, first among ACC receivers. He also earned a career-high 76.9 overall grade.
April 29, 7:52 p.m.
The Colts have traded the 42nd and 122nd overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for picks 53, 77 and 192.
April 28, 11:38 p.m.
The first round of the NFL Draft has ended. The Colts hung tight and did not make a trade.
April 28, 8:18 p.m.
The Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off the 2022 NFL Draft by selecting Georgia defensive end Travon Walker.