After coming up short in the playoffs against the Buffalo Bills, the Colts have undergone quite a few changes this offseason. One of those changes was acquiring quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles. That move alone will improve the offense dramatically, as Philip Rivers was solid but far from the star that he once was.
Indianapolis was also able to retain both T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack. Both players will be major factors for the team’s offense in 2021. Now, they need to focus on helping add talent to fill in some of their weaknesses.
Everyone knows that the first and second round of the NFL Draft are full of players everyone knows about. Most of those players are expected to contribute immediately. However, the best teams are the teams that can find hidden talent in sleepers during the middle and later stages of the draft.
That is exactly where Ballard has excelled for the Colts. Among his biggest sleeper hits are Mack in the fourth round in 2017, Grover Stewart in the fourth round in 2017, Darius Leonard at pick No. 36 in 2018, Nyheim Hines in the fourth round in 2018, and Julian Blackmon in the third round in 2020.
All of that being said, let’s take a look at three sleepers the Colts should take a strong look at throughout the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. Quintin Morris, Tight End, Bowling Green
At this point in time, the Colts have Jack Doyle as their starting tight end. Doyle is the definition of consistent, but he does not bring athleticism to the field in any way, shape, or form. That is an area the Colts could look to improve in the NFL Draft.
Quintin Morris is not a name many are focusing on at the tight end position. However, he has extreme athleticism and could be a lethal weapon for Carson Wentz in the future.
During his four-year career at Bowling Green, Morris caught 125 passes for 1,529 yards and 13 touchdowns. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds. His stature and athleticism could be a great fit for the Colts.
Indianapolis may not end up looking hard at a tight end in this draft class. They don’t necessarily need one at this point in time. Ballard doesn’t draft for need, though, and Morris could be an ideal sleeper to target late in the draft.
2. Spencer Brown, Offensive Tackle, Northern Iowa
After seeing Anthony Castonzo retire, the Colts could take a look at bringing in an offensive tackle to develop. If that is an area they are interested in targeting late in the draft, Spencer Brown could be a prospect they take a look at.
At 6-foot-9 and 314 pounds, Brown is an intimidating physical presence on the line. He couples his impressive size with good athleticism and the ability to get out and run when needed. That would fit well with the scheme the Colts like to run.
Brown could be had in the third round of the upcoming NFL Draft. If he is available, the Colts should jump at the chance to take him. He might just end up being a long-term starter protecting the quarterback in Indianapolis.
1. Justin Hilliard, Linebacker, Ohio State
Finally, the Colts could look at another sleeper linebacker like they have done quite a few times in recent years. Justin Hilliard may not end up developing into a superstar, but he’s worth a shot and could become a good role player for the Indianapolis defense.
There are some concerns about his ability to stay healthy, as he struggled with injury issues throughout his career at Ohio State. However, he has a high motor, good athleticism, and could also help a team on special teams. He thrived on special teams for the Buckeyes, and finding players who can play a role defensively and on special teams is a major plus.
Hilliard should be available in the fifth or even the sixth round, which would be well worth the risk for the Colts. The critics may end up being right about him, but he would be worth giving a shot.