The Indianapolis Colts entered the 2020 NFL Draft without a pick in the first round after dealing it away for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
This was a clear indication that Indianapolis is in win-now mode. Signing future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers only added to that.
But it’s what general manager Chris Ballard and Co. did to open Round 2 of the draft Friday night that has the NFL world abuzz.
Indianapolis picked up an underrated wide receiver in that of Michael Pittman Jr. with the 34th overall pick. It then traded up to the 41st selection for record-breaking running back Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin.
What this means: Indianapolis is making it clear that the team will be targeting the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC next season.
- Pittman: This 6-foot-3 former USC standout flew under the radar heading into the draft. But make no mistake about it, he’s a No. 1-caliber receiver. Pittman recorded 101 receptions for 1,275 yards last season.
- Taylor: Following an absolutely absurd NFL Scouting Combine performance, most had Taylor as a first-round prospect heading into the draft. After seeing D’Andre Swift go off the board a few picks before, Indianapolis swooped in and landed Taylor. He recorded 6,581 total yards and 55 touchdowns in three seasons with the Badgers.
These two players are going to complement what the Colts already have at the skill positions on offense.
- T.Y. Hilton: This former Pro Bowler might have been limited by injury last season, but he’s a proven No. 1 receiver. Hilton averaged 76 receptions for north of 1,200 yards from 2013-18.
- Marlon Mack: Indy now has an elite young running back duo in that of Taylor and this veteran. Mack, 24, recorded 1,173 total yards and eight touchdowns at a clip of 4.5 yards per touch last season.
By making a move to acquire Buckner, the Colts made it clear earlier this offseason that they are aiming for the Chiefs in the AFC. The addition of Philip Rivers to replace Jacoby Brissett under center only adds to this.
Though, it’s what Indy did early on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft that suggests Chris Ballard and Co. are all in for next season.
The team went with two players who project as immediate contributors after playing a whole heck of a lot in college.
A window that seemed to be closed following Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement last summer now appears to be wide open.
It’s that simple.