The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books, with the Colts making the following selections:
- Second round, 53rd overall: Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce
- Third round, 73rd overall: Virginia TE Jelani Woods
- Third round, 77th overall: Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann
- Third round, 96th overall: Maryland S Nick Cross
- Fifth round, 159th overall: Missouri State DT Eric Johnson
- Sixth round, 192nd overall: Youngstown State TE Andrew Ogletree
- Sixth round, 216th overall: Cincinnati DT Curtis Brooks
- Seventh round, 239th overall: Yale CB Rodney Thomas II
Before we look at a few national experts' grades on the Colts' draft class, though, I'm going to start an annual tradition of highlighting something general manager Chris Ballard said last year on how much these actually matter:
"I always laugh at this time of year because they'll come out with draft grades and everybody will make all these assumptions of how it's going to end up, but none of us know the story of how it's going to go," Ballard said. "Do we believe we've got good players? Absolutely, we do. I'd be stupid to (say) up here, 'You know what? We screwed this up. That sucked.' No, we think we did well and if we're right they'll come in and they'll play, and I think we've been pretty good at doing this.
"I think that's where the character really matters. Like players that have the right makeup that we're looking for, we know they are going to hit their ceilings at some point because they are going to work. They are going to fail at some point and they are going to be able to dig themselves out of the hole just because of their makeup. That's what we look for. Those are the type of men that we look to bring into this organization."
Anyways, on to the grades.
Analysis: "I'm going to crib some advanced statistics from Pro Football Focus on Brooks: He had the best pass-rush win rate in the class, the best run defense stop rate in the class and the best pass-rush grade in the class. Chris Ballard makes his money finding valuable contributors in the later rounds. Despite being a GM fighting one-handed, having to consistently sacrifice draft capital to find a long-term answer at quarterback, Ballard may have come out of this year's draft with a handful of starters. Raimann was discussed as a first-round pick. The athletic project out of Austria started his football career as a tight end, with his transition to tackle yielding a fascinating strand of tape. Raimann can get beat from time to time but still has the holdover recovery speed from his pass-catching days."
"Analysis: The Indianapolis Colts came into this draft with a need to improve the weaponry for Matt Ryan and hopefully land a starting tackle prospect. That was a tall ask given their draft capital, but general manager Chris Ballard ended up navigating it well. Alec Pierce gives Ryan another big-bodied receiver to work with opposite of Michael Pittman Jr., while Jelani Woods' size and athleticism make him the most intriguing tight end prospect in the whole class. The true steal in this class is Bernhard Raimann, though. He was the fourth tackle and 28th overall prospect at a premium position, and the Colts stopped his slide with the 77th pick. The Colts easily had the most athletic draft class by Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte's relative athletic score. If this class is as successful as it could be, that's going to be a metric that continues to get increased attention."
Analysis (Day 2): "Pierce has some serious juice, but he may just be a vertical threat at the next level, at best. He's stiff, and his route tree at Cincinnati was very much limited. Over 66% of his yards coming from vertical routes in 2021.
The NFL may have never seen an athlete at the tight end position like Jelani Woods, who was buried on an offense as a blocker for years before finally getting a chance to show what he could do in the passing game. His hands were suspect, dropping 10.7% of catchable targets in his college career, but he has a rare athletic profile.
A clear first-round talent on PFF's Big Board, Bernhard Raimann slipped in the draft due to injury concerns, but he has outstanding athleticism and immediate starting ability. He began his career as a tight end but developed into an excellent tackle at Central Michigan. He allowed just one sack as a starting tackle and gives the Colts a starting tackle in the third round.
Cross is a phenomenal value for the Colts at No. 96. He's a former four-star recruit with some of the best range of any safety prospect in this class. He isn't as instinctual as you'd like him to be, but he can fly sideline to sideline in the deep safety role. He's a project player, but the Colts' coaching staff will get an impact starter if they can effectively develop him early on."
Analysis: "Lacking a first-round pick from the ill-fated Carson Wentz trade, the Colts were undeterred, snagging four strong picks on Day 2 to set the table for a quietly strong class. If there's a gripe, we'd have loved to see another cornerback added to the mix, but that's one of the few need positions they didn't address despite the shorter deck of selections. Woods, Raimann, Cross and Pierce all figure to have notable roles next season, so there is immediate help and some long-term upside with Woods, Cross, Johnson and Brooks."
Analysis: "Chris Ballard and the Colts were effective in addressing needs without a first-rounder. Offensive-minded Frank Reich should enjoy having a complementary big-play wideout to Michael Pittman Jr. in Pierce and replenishing the tight end depth. Cross can also start right away next to newcomer Rodney McLeod. The key to this class is whether Raimann can emerge quickly as their starting left tackle to replace fellow Central Michigan product Eric Fisher."
Analysis: "They traded down once and up once and ended the draft with eight picks plus Matt Ryan. The Colts' offense has lacked juice in recent years. I loved the focus on athleticism here. Pierce ran 4.41 and averaged 17.5 YPR in college. And Woods tested out as the most athletic tight end in this year's class.
Even at the other spots, Indianapolis added athletes. Raimann is a plus athlete, and Cross tested out as the best athlete among safeties in this year's class. Overall, the Colts produced the second-most athletic draft class by one measure.
With the draft, there are no guarantees, but I thought Indianapolis' process here was sound."
Analysis: "The Colts had a very Chris Ballard draft. Long, high-caliber athletes galore. Some aren't fantastic football players yet. But typically, starts in the NFL are high-caliber athletes. My favorite picks were Jelani Woods and Bernhard Raimann in Round 3. Curtis Brooks was one of the first legitimately scary penetrators at defensive tackle, and Nick Cross is a missile at safety."
Analysis: "Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce is a big, vertical pass-catcher who should complement Michael Pittman Jr. well and give new quarterback Matt Ryan another much-needed playmaker on the outside. Virginia tight end Jelani Woods is somehow the only human on the planet that is as big as Mo Alie-Cox. Central Michigan left tackle Bernhard Raimann was a nice value in the third round, and Maryland safety Nick Cross is a super athletic thumper in the secondary. I'm not sure Indy will get any superstars out of this draft, but the team improved its depth at a few positions."
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