The 2022 off-season for the Colts has been a rollercoaster, to say the least. Two quarterback trades, a number of contract extensions, and some free agent signings to ensure a handful of 2021 Colts stayed in Indianapolis.
Some of the contracts which we don’t have time to go over in detail in this mock draft article include LB Zaire Franklin, TE Mo Alie-Cox, T Matt Pryor, DE Tyquan Lewis as well as trading for LB Yannick Ngakoue. These all do have impacts on the Colts, and their potential moves in the 2022 draft, but none compare to the two trades mentioned below.
QB Carson Wentz
Before the 2021 season, the Colts acquired QB Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2021 3rd round pick and another pick which ended up being a 1st round pick in 2022. It seemed at the time a serious gamble, with the Colts hoping Wentz would be enough to keep them in win-now mode with the talented roster they have.
With the help of hindsight, that gamble by the Colts front office was not worth it, with Wentz being underwhelming for the Colts who ended up missing the playoffs after a week 17 loss to the worst team in the NFL – the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 2021 season was enough for the Colts to realize Wentz was not the answer, and a year after arriving he was traded to the Washington Commanders. Indy received a 2022 2nd round, 2022 3rd round, and conditional 2023 3rd round pick in return for sending Wentz and a 2022 7th round pick to Washington.
While the Carson Wentz experiment in Indianapolis was an overwhelming failure, the fact the Colts were able to cash out for three draft picks can be seen as making the best of a bad situation. After both trading for, and trading away, Wentz the Colts were down a 1st round pick but had gained an extra 3rd rounder. Chris Ballard, however, was not done exchanging draft picks for quarterbacks.
QB Matt Ryan
The Colts didn’t last long without a quarterback for 2022, trading their original 3rd round pick for Matt Ryan from the Falcons. Ryan will be the latest in a string of veteran starting QBs the Colts have tried to use – A list which includes Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselback, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, and most recently Carson Wentz. Nevertheless, the Colts trading for Ryan likely takes them out of the quarterback race with their first pick not coming until 42nd overall.
There are still a number of positions that need addressing for the Colts. They will likely be looking to give Ryan some much-needed weapons, with both wide receiver and tight end likely towards the top of their draft needs. It would not be a surprise to see some offensive line help and defensive secondary also targeted with their limited picks in 2022.
2.10 (42 Overall)
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
As a result of the Carson Wentz trade, the Colts’ first pick of the draft comes on day two with pick 42. Many will be interested in a quarterback at this position if players such as Desmond Ridder or Sam Howell are still available.
In my opinion, the Colts trading so quickly for Matt Ryan, as well as the way this franchise has addressed (or rather not addressed) QB issues in recent history, suggests they are in win-now mode and won’t use this pick to sign young and unproven talent at the position.
For that reason, the Colts double down on their commitment to Matt Ryan, giving him another exciting weapon to pair with Michael Pittman Jr., drafting George Pickens out of Georgia.
It is worth noting that a few wide receivers went off the board just ahead of the Colts in this mock, such as Jahan Dotson, Christian Watson, and Skyy Moore. Had Pickens not torn his ACL ahead of his final season in Georgia, I think he would be taken above these players, and a few others – likely being a day one target for teams.
While this might be heartbreaking for Pickens it certainly is not for the Colts in this mock, landing a talent that has the potential to be a WR1 in the NFL with pick 42 overall.
Pickens is tall, at 6’3″, but is slim and only weighs in at 200lbs. He has great hands and his ability to track the ball in the air is one of the best in this year’s draft class. When paired with his route running and off-the-line speed, he makes for a serious threat in the passing game.
Pickens will instantly become a downfield option for Ryan and the colts and is a touchdown threat from any point of the field. His highlights also include some of the most acrobatic, diving catches you will see from a college athlete, a desire to come down with the ball which should assist Ryan’s first season in Indianapolis. The pairing of Pickens and Pittman Jr. will be the most exciting Indianapolis has seen in some time, and should excite fans for years to come.
3.09 (73 Overall)
Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Ballard takes another step in giving Matt Ryan the chance to succeed in Indianapolis, selecting Ohio State tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere in round three.
The first thing you notice when looking at Petite-Frere is that he looks like an NFL offensive tackle. Standing 6’5” and weighing in at over 315 pounds, he looks ready to play on Sundays.
The former 5-star high school recruit started a season at right tackle as well as a season at left tackle for the Buckeyes – a program that has produced an abundance of NFL offensive linemen in recent history.
He moves well for a man of his size, gliding across the field far more smoothly than many other linemen. He plays well in pass protection on both the left and right sides of the line and has active hands against pass rushers. He also has no trouble getting down the field in front of runners, a testament to his athleticism.
Left tackle is definitely not a position that is locked down on the Colts roster, with 2021 depth player Matt Pryor the likely starter at this stage. Petit-Frere would have a chance to earn a starting spot at left tackle with some development under NFL coaching, and his ability to also play the right side opens far more doors than other linemen in the draft.
While all of the above may lead you to question how a former 5-star athlete, who can play both left and right tackle, is available in the third round, he does have some areas which need work.
He sometimes gives up too much space, leading to pressure on the interior, and had some consistency issues which showed up in 2021. He had particularly bad games against Michigan and Penn State this past season, which likely impacted his chance of being a fringe day one pick. It is worth noting that many of his issues against Michigan came against soon-to-be 1st overall pick Aiden Hutchinson.
4.17 (122 Overall)
Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
After trying to help Matt Ryan and the offense with both of their first two picks in the 2022 draft, in the fourth round, the Colts go defensive side of the ball and select Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum.
McCollum, at 6’2″, 200lbs looks to have the physical attributes to succeed as an NFL quality CB. At the NFL combine, McCollum ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, the 3rd fastest of all corners, as well as finishing in the top two of the limited CB participants in both the broad and vertical jumps.
The five-year “super senior” at Sam Houston State has an impressive set of statistics on his college resume, recording 54 pass breakups, including 13 interceptions – 2 of which he returned for touchdowns. The Colts had 19 interceptions in 2021 and McCollum will fit right in, attacking the ball on any pass thrown his way, with his ball production speaking for itself at the collegiate level.
His physical attributes and playstyle will allow him to play on the outside, as well as in the slot, and would prove a valuable piece of this Colts defense looking to defend against an abundance of talent in the AFC for years to come.
McCollum is an aggressive tackler, recording 147 solo tackles in his college career, and is willing to contribute to defending the run. To continue this at the professional level he will need to add some more muscle with a few NFL off-season workout programs wherever he lands.
4-Round Mock Summary
The Colts back up their commitment to being a win-now team in this mock draft, giving new QB Matt Ryan a star receiver as well a tackle who has the ability to step in and protect the veteran QB on both the left and right side, when required.
Finally, they add a piece to the secondary who has the upside to be an absolute star in the NFL for many years to come – something to Colts will need to be able to consistently compete in the AFC in its present form.
If the Colts can utilize their limited early draft picks to land players who can help this team from day one, they have a great chance to improve in 2021 and make it into the postseason in 2022.