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NFL Draft

Indianapolis Colts 2021 NFL Draft Class Breakdown

  • The Draft Network
  • May 7, 2021
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Following an 11-5 season that saw the team finish just short of an AFC South crown, the Colts had an eventful offseason. Philip Rivers opted to retire after only spending one season with the team and that once again left the Colts with a question mark under center at the beginning stages of the offseason for the second consecutive year.

Choosing familiarity, general manager Chris Ballard took a swing for the fences as he instilled full trust in head coach Frank Reich to reincarnate Carson Wentz. Surrendering a 2021 third-round pick as well as a 2022 conditional second-round pick that could be elevated into a first-rounder, the regime took a risk but wanted to possibly find what could be a long-term solution at the most important spot on the roster. Needing plenty of help outside of that, the franchise still had holes at edge rusher, offensive tackle, and receiver to fill in the draft.

Let’s take a look at their 2021 NFL Draft class:

Round 1: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Arguably the top edge rusher of the draft class, Paye only played in four games a season ago after suffering a groin injury. Right now, Paye is a pressures-over-sacks edge rusher as he contains a unique blend of power and explosiveness but finishing at the quarterback remains his biggest inconsistent area. An outstanding run defender, he uses his lock-out power, grip strength, and awareness to wreak havoc against the run. Continuing to develop as a pass rusher could come with added reps, as he wasn’t allowed to settle into a certain position in the Wolverines scheme. After taking multiple chances on players at the position during the second and third days of the draft, Ballard opted to select Paye with their first-round pick this year.

Round 2: Dayo Odeyingbo, DL, Vanderbilt

A prospect that excited many during the early stages of the pre-draft process, Odeyingo is a long and active first-level defender. A do-it-all player for the Commodores' defense, he played all four positions up front. An energetic and lively player, he’s very raw, but his athleticism helps overcompensate for what he lacks in his technique. Tearing his Achilles in January cooled off a bit of the hype that was surrounding him for obvious reasons, but the talent and upside speak for themselves. Despite suffering a major injury, he still managed to be selected in the second round.

Round 3: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU

Originally starting his career at Rice, Granson transferred to SMU for an expanded role and he hit his stride once being placed in the Mustang offense. More in the athletic tight end mold, his value lies in the passing game. He was not utilized much as a blocker on the collegiate level, but he has lots of explosive plays after the catch during his final season. A role that he likely won’t be asked much of during the early stages of his rookie contract, but with Jack Doyle getting older and Mo Alie-Cox as the only other threat in front of him, Granson could find himself as a key piece of the offense later on down the road.

Round 5: Shawn Davis, S, Florida

Playing in one of the more experienced back halves of any secondary in the country last season, Davis was seen as the leader among that group. A free-flowing and active third-level defender, Davis plays with lots of aggression and isn’t shy about coming up in run support. Likely the backup to Khari Willis, he will need to earn his keep on special teams. That's a task that isn’t foreign to him as he has plenty of experience playing special teams in Gainesville. 

Round 6: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

One of the most highly decorated players in program history, Ehlinger enters into the mix of a jumbled-up quarterback situation. With Carson Wentz as the unquestioned and clear leader in the clubhouse to be the team's Week 1 starter, the spots after that get interesting. Last season, the team spent a day-three selection on Jacob Eason, who’s extremely raw needs lots of fine-tuning. Ehlinger’s in a similar boat as there are lots of fixes that need to be made, but one could argue that we may see him incorporated in various ways while he develops. A strong and physical runner, specifically in the red zone, it wouldn’t come as a shock to see special packages inside of the 10-yard line designed for him on designed QB runs. The team obviously won’t force that element, but it’s the only way for Ehlinger to experience any type of meaningful snaps in the near future.

Round 7: Michael Strachan, WR, Charleston

Taking a chance on Strachan is the exact type of dart throw all teams should make during the final day of the draft. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Strachan is a height/weight/speed specimen that tested off of the charts at his pro day. With the production to match, he’s a big-body target that dominates at the catch point. A bit of a nine-route specialist during his career, he will need to find a couple of other ways to win in order to have a chance at making the roster. Fine-tuning the details in his route-running could help him earn more opportunities.

Round 7: Will Fries, OT, Penn State

Considering the need at left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, it was a bit surprising to see the team wait until their final selection to select an offensive lineman—a clear plan of attack that screams that Ballard is likely to address the spot with a veteran via free agency. Fries’ pedigree and versatility were both clearly appealing in the draft room. A 42-game starter during his career in Happy Valley, Fries potentially brings added depth at multiple spots.

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