The Indianapolis Colts are in the unique position of having a promising young core of players and lots of cap space to spend, but they’re too far down in the 2021 NFL Draft order to address their glaring hole at the quarterback position.
For a roster that’s built to win now with so much cap room going into the next season, it was wise for Indianapolis to just use a good chunk of change to trade for Carson Wentz as a replacement for the retired Philip Rivers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at which prospects the Colts should target in the first couple days of the 2021 draft. Of note: one of the stipulations of the Wentz trade led the Colts to part with a third-round pick in this year’s draft, so that subsection has been deleted upon the latest update.
Indianapolis Colts draft picks: Best prospects to target in two-round mock
First round, 21st pick: Samuel Cosmi (OT, Texas), Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR, LSU)
Anthony Castonzo retired, and although the Colts have cap space to pursue a free agent like Russell Okung or Trent Williams, they should just take someone like Cosmi if he’s there, because their focus should be on spending a pretty penny on a veteran quarterback.
With the potential run on signal-callers early in the draft, there should be some quality left tackles remaining on the board for Colts GM Chris Ballard to choose from. Cosmi can play either left or right tackle and had extensive experience doing both for the Longhorns, but Indianapolis has the personnel up front to throw him in the fire on the left side.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus would love to have a pure talent like the 6-foot-2 Campbell shoring up the depth of Indy’s defensive backfield. Campbell might be a reach for other teams picking this high, yet he’s such a great fit for the Colts, who’ve coveted lengthier cornerbacks in recent years such as Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin. Rhodes may not be with the team in 2021, either.
Starting receivers TY Hilton and Zach Pascal are also free agents. One of them should return, but Ballard could target a playmaker in Round 1 for his new quarterback. Putting someone like Marshall alongside Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell could make Indianapolis one of the greatest young receiving corps in the NFL.
Second round, 54th pick: Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern), Quincy Roche (EDGE, Miami Florida), D’Wayne Eskridge (WR, Western Michigan)
Chances are, Cosmi or another tackle would be too good to pass up, and it’s unlikely Georgia’s Campbell is still here at No. 54 because his potential is too immense.
That leaves the Colts with an appealing option in Newsome. Playing for Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald’s gritty defense, Newsome is somewhat forgotten since he only appeared in three games in 2020, but he did log enough snaps to rank as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 cornerback out of 400 qualifiers.
Roche is a very polished prospect who had three strong seasons at Temple before transferring to Miami. He gets a little overshadowed by Jaelan Phillips, yet Roche’s long-term outlook in the NFL may well be better than that of Phillips and another Hurricanes product in Gregory Rousseau.
Over his last 21 games at Western Michigan, Eskridge averaged well over 20 yards per catch and is more thickly built out at 5-foot-9 than you’d expect. He’s a YAC machine who can also track the ball on downfield throws.
Whichever direction the Colts go with their wide receiver room in 2021, it’d behoove them to have someone like Eskridge in the pipeline who could be the classic training camp star that contributes earlier than expected.
Third round, 84th pick: **TRADED TO PHILADELPHIA EAGLES FOR CARSON WENTZ**
Indianapolis Colts mock draft: South Beach and Central Texas stars head Midwest
- First round, 21st pick: Samuel Cosmi, offensive tackle, Texas
- Second round, 54th pick: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (Florida)
Running through a couple different simulations, Indianapolis winds up with a few of its premier targets in each mock scenario. Cosmi fills in the void left by Castonzo, Roche is the polished edge player the Colts need on the front seven.
Newsome and Campbell are really quite strong schematic fits in Indianapolis, so don’t be surprised if the Colts wind up grabbing one of them. In this instance, we’re going to assume the team re-signs Rhodes on a one- or two-year deal and perhaps targets someone like Patrick Peterson prior to the draft to fill out the position.
The tandem of Roche and Cosmi gives Indianapolis two pro-ready players who can plug in and create advantages on their respective sides of the ball. At such positions of need in the first and second rounds, the Colts could hardly do better than them.
Because Ballard and the organization addressed the quarterback spot with a blockbuster trade, they also surrendered a third-round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional 2022 second-rounder that could turn into a Round 1 pick. Wentz is under no small amount of pressure to deliver in running Frank Reich’s offense, as he’ll inherit a team that’s good right now, but will be much improved following free agency.
Buckle up, Colts faithful. It’s been a wild offseason already — and a positive one for Indianapolis at that.