Indianapolis Colts Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan - Round 2
The Colts were in the market for defensive end help in the 2021 NFL Draft, and they got an excellent value with the second=rated edge defender at No. 21 overall. Paye easily could have gone much higher, as there were consistent projections of him going in the top 15. Paye has good skill set and enough upside that he should at least be a solid starter, and it would not be surprising if he turns into a boom pick for the Colts.

The 6-foot-4, 272-pound is a fast defender who fires into the backfield and closes on the quarterback in a hurry. Paye has the speed to fire off the ball and the ability to sink his hips to get underneath tackles as he runs the loop around the corner. For a player with Paye's size, his closing speed and ability to pursue scrambling quarterbacks are very impressive in combination with his athleticism to redirect in space. Assisted by his functional strength, Paye uses his hands and feet at the same time to shed blocks, showing a hand chop to slap blockers away while moving around them. His good size and strengthmake him a dangerous weapon for moving inside to tackle in the sub package. In the NFL, Paye could become a quality quarterback hunter and sack producer.

Paye is a solid run defender. He has the strength to hold his gap and not get blown off the ball. He gives a good effort and will pursue to the ball. With his strong frame and size, Paye should end up being an asset against the run in the NFL.

Paye should take on a starting role early in his pro career and could win a spot immediately. With star tackle DeForest Buckner drawing attention next to him, Paye should see numerous single-block opportunities, which could let him make a quick impact for Indianapolis. Given his skill set, upside, and the Colts' coaching staff's excellent ability to develop talent, Paye should become a solid starter before long, and he might go way beyond and emerge as a highly impactful edge defender.

2020: Michael Pittman, WR
2019: Rock Ya-Sin, CB
2018: Braden Smith, G
2017: Quincy Wilson, CB
2016: Ryan Kelly, C
2015: Henry Anderson, DE
2014: Andrew Jackson, LB
2013: Hugh Thornton, G

Most Likely To Bust

Kylen Granson, TE, SMU - Round 4
This was very difficult selection because the Colts put together a superb draft, although that has been the norm under general manager Chris Ballard. Of their two early-round picks, I don't see a future bust. Perhaps the player who might top out as being a backup with minimal impact is Granson. He definitely has receiving ability, but he faces limitations as a blocker that could prevent him from taking on a significant snap count. Still as a fourth-round pick, he would not be a true bust because the vast majority of fourth-rounders don't work out in the NFL. Of the Colts' first three selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, Granson looks the most limited.

2020: Julian Blackmon, S
2019: Bobby Okereke, LB
2018: Kemoko Turay, LB
2017: Tarell Basham, DL
2016: Hassan Ridgeway, DT
2015: Clayton Geathers, S
2014: Jack Mewhort, G
2013: Khaled Holmes, C

Potential Boom Pick

Dayo Odeyingbo, DE/DT, Vanderbilt - Round 2
Colts general manager Chris Ballard said that in their draft room, Odeyingbo had the nickname of the "Human Hurricane" because he was so disruptive in the backfield for Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Odeyingbo brings an excellent skill set to develop because he has a rare combination of height, length, speed and athleticism. A few team sources said that if Odeyingbo had played at Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State, he would have been a top-20 pick even after he tore his Achilles over the offseaosn before the 2021 NFL Draft. They feel he has huge upside for the NFL.

As a pass rusher, Odeyingbo shows a ton of upside for the NFL. His long frame and wingspan help him to keep blockers away so he can then use his speed to close. Odeyingbo is a penetrating presence who gets upfield and causes disruption. With his speed to close, Odeyingbo displays the versatility to play as both a pass-rushing defensive end and as a dynamic interior rusher. He has a solid first-step and a second gear to get upfield, which provide him with the quickness to get after the quarterback as a speed rusher on the inside at tackle or as a base end.

As a run defender, Odeyingbo is a solid contributor that can get off blocks and chase down backs. He offers flexibility to be a power base end who can handle strong right tackles or move inside to give guards problems with his length.

With Kwity Paye and DeForest Buckner around him, Odeyingbo should have plenty of single-block looks when he gets on the field, and he could really take off for Indianapolis. It might not happen until 2022 or 2023, but Odeyingbo has serious boom pick potential for the Colts, and he could be another draft steal by Ballard and Co.

2020: Jonathan Taylor, RB
2019: Parris Campbell, WR
2018: Quenton Nelson, G
2017: Malik Hooker, S
2016: Le'Raven Clark, OT
2015: Philip Dorsett, WR
2014: Donte Moncrief, WR
2013: Bjoern Werner, DE

Future Depth Player

Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas - Round 6
The Colts traded for Carson Wentz, and it would not surprise me if he turns things around to be their franchise quarterback. That would limit how high Ehlinger can rise on the depth chart, but I could see Indianapolis using him similarly to Taysom Hill as a dual-threat runner who also helps cut down on the injury risk for Wentz. Ehlinger may not have the pocket-passing ability to be a three-down starter in the NFL, but he could become a solid backup quarterback who helps the Colts in a special package.

2020: Jacob Eason, QB
2019: Khari Willis, S
2018: Nyheim Hines, RB
2017: Marlon Mack, RB
2016: Antonio Morrison, LB
2015: David Parry, DT
2014: John Ulrick, OT
2013: Montori Hughes, DT

Walt's 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

21. Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan - B Grade
The Colts lost a couple of defensive linemen in free agency this offseason, so it makes sense that they would select Kwity Paye. They're really swinging for the fences with this selection. Paye has incredible talent and pass-rushing upside, but he's very raw and inexperienced. He has high bust potential, but there's also extreme upside with him.

54. Dayo Odeyingbo, DT, Vanderbilt - C- Grade
The Colts are ready to win this year, so why did they draft a player who will have to redshirt in 2021? Dayo Odeyingbo is a very talented defensive tackle, but he tore his Achilles in late January. This selection will pay off in the long term, but it goes against Indianapolis' plan right now.

127. Kylen Granson, TE, SMU - D Grade
The Colts like to run multi-tight end formations, so it makes sense that they would target the position despite already having some talent there. Granson has some athletic potential, but I didn't have him in my final mock draft, so I'm not a huge fan of this pick.

165. Shawn Davis, S, Florida - B+ Grade
The Colts had a need at safety, so it's about time that they addressed it. Shawn Davis was projected in the fourth round of some of my draft updates, so I like the value. We didn't have all the numbers as far as Davis' measureables are concerned, but he stood out in the Senior Bowl.

218. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas - C Grade
Meh. I like adding quarterbacks late in the draft for development and future trade purposes, but Sam Ehlinger never looked like an NFL quarterback to me.

229. Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston - B Grade
I had Mike Strachan going around this range. He makes sense for the Colts, who were expected to address their receiver need earlier than this. I like this as a solid value pick.

248. Will Fries, G, Penn State - C+ Grade
I didn't have Will Fries as a draftable prospect. He's not lengthy enough to be a tackle, and he's not strong enough to be a guard. I don't know where he fits as an NFL player, but we're almost done, so I won't go below a C+.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: C-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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