After a better-than-expected 2023 NFL regular season, the Indianapolis Colts are driven by determination and underscored by a slightly bitter taste of narrowly missing the playoffs. Now, they are gearing up for more moves in the offseason. With the 2024 NFL Draft looming, the Colts find themselves in an advantageous position to reinforce their roster and address pivotal areas of need. In this mock draft, we dive deep into potential rookie prospects that could don the horseshoe and elevate the team's chances of not just making the playoffs but contending for a Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts' 2023 Season Recap

The 2023 season for the Indianapolis Colts was a mixed bag of thrilling victories and agonizing defeats. Finishing with a respectable 9-8 record, the team showed glimpses of both brilliance and areas needing improvement. Despite the resilient efforts of the squad, the Colts fell just short of securing a playoff berth. Of course, not having star rookie QB Anthony Richardson for most of the season was also a big blow. The offense, while potent at times, often struggled with consistency. This was particularly true in the critical late-game scenarios. On the other side of the ball, the defense showcased vigor but lacked the finishing punch against high-caliber offenses. That's a gap that became glaringly evident in key matchups.

Now, the focus for the Colts is clear: bolster the squad to convert those narrow losses into wins. With strategic acquisitions through the draft, the Colts can address their most pressing needs. The upcoming draft presents an opportunity to infuse young talent into the team’s core, particularly focusing on enhancing the defensive prowess and adding depth to the offensive line.

Colts' Anthony Richardson injury update

Draft Context

Securing Michael Pittman Jr for another season was a significant victory for the Colts. Sure, they might look to enhance their receiving corps. However, they are also likely among the teams considering a marquee tight end. This kind of addition would significantly upgrade a currently lackluster tight end group, ideally suiting Shane Steichen’s RPO-centric approach.

Keeping Kenny Moore II was crucial as well. That's given he’s one of the premier nickel backs in the league. However, the Colts still require considerable reinforcements at both outside cornerback and safety positions. This is particularly true if Julian Blackmon exits via free agency. Apart from two standout games against the struggling Panthers and Patriots, the Colts’ coverage was notably weak last season. They ranked among the league's worst.

Here we will look at the rookie prospects that the Indianapolis Colts might pick up in our 7-round 2024 Mock Draft.

Pick No. 15: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

At 23, Jared Verse has completed two consecutive seasons at Florida State with an impressive 9.0 sacks each. This positions him as a top pass-rushing prospect in this draft class. Verse brings to the table all the qualities the Colts prize in an edge rusher. He has exceptional explosive power, lengthy arms, and significant play strength. His readiness to contribute could significantly bolster an already formidable Colts defensive line. Sure, Verse's selection might be unexpected on draft day. However, he embodies the ideal archetype for the Colts in this position and could seamlessly compensate for the potential departures of Kwity Paye and/or Dayo Odeyingbo in 2025.

Pick No. 46: Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Long on the lookout for a dynamic receiver, the Colts had shown interest in players like Christian Watson and Jaylen Waddle in previous trade discussions involving Jonathan Taylor. Yes, those discussions did not pan out. Still, the Colts have been actively scouting at pro days across Oregon, Texas, and LSU, focusing on the fastest receivers available. With top prospects like Brian Thomas Jr, Xavier Worthy, and Adonai Mitchell already selected at this point, Troy Franklin emerges as an ideal choice. Sure, he is slimmer than the typical receiver preferred by GM Chris Ballard. That said, Franklin compensates with exceptional speed and vertical capabilities. He tallied 142 receptions, 2,274 yards, and 23 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Franklin's skill set makes him a perfect fit for Shane Steichen’s vertical offensive strategy.

Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin hauls in a pass during Oregon Pro Day Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at the Moshofsky Center in Eugene, Ore
Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pick No. 82: Jaden Hicks, S, Washington State

The third round has historically been where Ballard likes to pick safeties. With the current state of the Colts' secondary, it's an opportune moment to reinforce. Jaden Hicks, a former cornerback with significant athletic potential, can contribute flexibility to the Colts’ defense. His fluid movement and ability to cover tight ends one-on-one make him an excellent candidate for a position the Colts are eager to fill.

Pick No. 117: Brandon Coleman, IOL, TCU

With the potential free agency of Will Fries and Ryan Kelly looming in 2025, the Colts must plan for the future of their interior line. Brandon Coleman is best suited for an interior line role in the NFL. He has experienced both guard and tackle positions in college. Despite a challenging 2023 season, his athletic prowess makes him a valuable pick in the fourth round. This is where coach Tony Sparano Jr can maximize his talents.

Pick No. 151: Chigozie Anusiem, CB, Colorado State

Continuing to strengthen the secondary, the Colts should add Chigozie Anusiem. He is a cornerback known for his exceptional open-field tackling and athletic ability. Anusiem's size and skills are likely to intensify competition within the cornerback group. He brings much-needed depth and talent to the position.

Pick No. 191: Kimani Vidal, RB, Troy

Adding depth to their backfield, the Colts select Kimani Vidal. He is a hard-running back whose style complements Jonathan Taylor's. Vidal's productivity in college and robust pass-blocking skills make him an attractive late-round pick for the Colts' zone-running scheme.

Pick No. 234: Jonah Laulu, DT, Oklahoma

The Colts round out their mock draft by focusing on Jonah Laulu. He is a defensive tackle with the potential as a disruptive three-technique in the NFL. His performances at Oklahoma and an impressive pro day have put him on the radar for many NFL teams. This makes him a player to watch as the draft approaches.

These draft picks are strategically chosen to address vital areas of need for the Colts, enhancing their roster depth and injecting young talent across various positions, setting a solid foundation for future success.