When Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired in 2019, there were doubts surrounding the Indianapolis Colts franchise. Fast forward to the 2020 season and they finished with an impressive 11-5 record behind quarterback Carson Wentz.
The Colts have a well-rounded roster, so it’s not surprising they had a relatively quiet 2021 NFL Draft.
Below are grades for the draft selections of Indianapolis.
No. 21 Overall: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan – A+
Kwity Paye was the top-ranked edge prospect on many draft boards, so it was quite a shock to see him available at number 21. Picking Paye is a terrific value move and addresses a massive hole on the Colts’ defense. Further, he plays at a premier position that arguably is second only to quarterback in terms of importance. Pairing him with defensive tackle DeForest Buckner will give problems to offensive lines.
He is an intriguing mix of size, strength and speed coming off the edge. Paye has the potential to be a part of several Pro Bowl teams. While he was taken primarily to get to the passer, he is no slouch in the run game and will be a difficult player to move.
Video of Kwity Paye’s Pro Day workout, courtesy of NFL Network. He did 36 reps on the bench press. pic.twitter.com/A37w6px7dS
— TheWolverine.com (@TheWolverineMag) March 26, 2021
No. 54 Overall: Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt – C
One of the lessons to be learned from Luck’s early retirement is the need to invest in protecting your quarterback. Indianapolis had one of the best offensive lines in the league, but the retirement of left tackle Anthony Castonzo left a big hole to fill.
This was a good draft to get an offensive lineman as the class was deep. Unfortunately, many of the top prospects were gone by the 54th overall selection. North Dakota State tackle Dillon Radunz was chosen just before the Colts’ pick.
The team still could have gone for Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield, but that may have felt too much of a reach and so the team decided to add more depth to the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Odeyingbo explodes from his stance and possesses good physical tools. He comes in at 6’6, 276 pounds and displays sound fundamentals. Odeyingbo will have to get stronger at the professional level as he suffered an Achilles injury just a few months back. Hopefully, he can play like his old self again and even better.
Of all the moves of the front office, this was the most baffling as they did not maximize the value of the pick, with Odeyingbo quite a reach at No. 54 overall. Additionally, Carlos Basham Jr., who also plays edge was still on the board and has both a higher floor and ceiling.
No. 127 Overall: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU – B
Kylen Granson is a versatile tight end who can line up all over the field. He is athletic and generates yards after the catch. Granson has a developed route tree and regularly separates from his defender.
He stands a shade under 6’2 and weighs 242 pounds, so in terms of size, he is somewhere in between a tight end and wide receiver. While he puts a lot of effort into his blocks, this will probably be a weakness for him due to his physical limitations.
Colts drafting former teammates from Westlake with Sam Ehlinger and Kylen Granson. The two were a part of many big plays on the Chaps run to the title game in 2015. @theKCG18 @sehlinger3 pic.twitter.com/VHgOzNEReI
— Travis Recek (@TravisRecek) May 1, 2021
No. 165 Overall: Shawn Davis, S, Florida – B-
Shawn Davis is a solid athlete who is unafraid to deliver big hits to ball carriers, although he needs to work on his tackling technique. He is best used in run plays, as his coverage skills need improvement.
Davis will probably suit up for special teams duties.
No. 218 Overall: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas – C+
The Colts are increasing the competition in the quarterback room, and Ehlinger will be the fourth-string option. Having options at signal-caller is important since Wentz has a long injury history.
Ehlinger has good intangibles and the athleticism to be a productive running quarterback. He does his best work when the play breaks down and he has to improvise. However, he possesses not only underwhelming arm strength, but he is also prone to bouts of inaccuracy. Even with elite trainers, these are issues that will prove to be difficult to overcome.
No. 229 Overall: Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston – B+
At 6’5, 229 pounds, Mike Strachan will be a big-body target for Wentz, while still showing incredible speed for his size.
He did play for a small school with a lower level of competition, but his physical tools are too enticing to pass up. Strachan is a developmental prospect, but if he pans out, then the Colts got a steal.
No. 248 Overall: Will Fries, G, Penn State – B-
This was a long wait to address the offensive line. Will Fries is versatile and can play both tackle and guard. He is a solid athlete, but his best fit would be inside at guard. He faces an uphill climb before he can get anywhere near a starting spot with the Colts.
Will Fries (Penn State) is a day three tackle I love. Powerful run blocker who is a killer on combos. Technically sound in pass pro. Tough, solid performances against Chase Young, Kwity Paye, and Chauncey Golston in 2019. Will struggle a bit with speed but I love his film pic.twitter.com/F01Op9nSbg
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) April 21, 2021