INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts stayed true to their word on Friday and did not select a quarterback on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft; general manager Chris Ballard has said all along the Colts weren't going to force a decision at that position before they were ready.
On Saturday, the right opportunity came in the fourth round at the 122nd-overall pick when they selected Washington quarterback Jacob Eason.
It was a match that some people had projected as early as the first round, and very commonly in the second round, over the last month or so in the pre-draft process, and the Colts were able to save value and make it happen on Day 3 of the draft.
Eason was a highly-recruited high school prospect who chose Georgia before eventually transferring back home to the University of Washington following the 2017 season. After redshirting for a season, he took over as the Huskies' starter in 2019 and left quite the impression, throwing for more than 3,100 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
With transition being one of the themes of the rookie signal-caller's career so far, there was plenty to talk about when Eason met with the Colts' local media following his selection. You can watch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Eason was hoping it would be the Colts to pick him: Of course, that's what just about everybody says when they get drafted, but it's not just lip service for Eason.
"I'd had several great conversations with a number of teams. The Colts were a team that I had more than a few great conversations with, so I was hoping I might get a call from them," he said. "I knew they had a couple picks in the second, I knew they had picks here and there, and I was just being patient. When the opportunity came, they took the pick, and I couldn't be more grateful for that.
"I had a great communication with the Colts," Eason continued about the relationship he built with the Colts during the pre-draft process. "I think I talked to them more than any other team. Whether it was Coach Reich or QB coaches, I talked to everyone in the organization. It was pretty cool because it wasn't all about football all the time. A lot of it was about personal information, about my family and my college experience. Coach would ask me some off-the-wall questions and then we'd get into the film room and he'd kinda teach me some of the offense, and I'd go connect it to my offense. It was really cool, I got to build the foundation of our relationship. I'm just looking forward to getting down to Indianapolis and meeting in person and really getting to work and learning. It's a great situation to learn from Philip (Rivers) and Jacoby (Brissett) and that QB room, and I'm very excited to get in there and learn from those guys and help out any way I can. I'm very fortunate to be in the situation I am, and it's a great fit for me."
Digging the Colts isn't something new to Eason, either. This was about 15 years in the making.
"I actually grew up a huge Indianapolis fan. I was a tremendously big fan of Peyton Manning," Eason said. "I think one year when I was 6 or 7, I got his jersey under the Christmas tree, and I had Colts hats, Colts shoes, you name it. Full-circle, it's pretty spectacular that the Colts ended up selecting me in the fourth round. I'm just super excited to get down there, figure out my new home, get in the locker room with those teammates and just dive in and learn and grow."
» Sitting and learning from Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett is a valuable opportunity: Any draft pick is going to be competitive and want a shot at a starting job right away, but Eason is realistically going to be taking a back seat for the immediate future and learning from Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett and the coaching staff while he develops. Eason doesn't see this is an issue, though. If anything, it's an opportunity for him to grow.
When it comes to Rivers, specifically, Eason said it's surreal to have an opportunity to learn the ropes from one of the best quarterbacks of his generation.
"I think Philip does an outstanding job of making plays. He's a pocket passer-type guy, and he's a very smart football player. That's why I'm very excited to go in and learn from a guy with what he's done," Eason said of Rivers. "He did some great things with the Chargers, and now he's gonna do some awesome things with the Colts. It's crazy to think that I'm gonna be able to learn from a guy like that. That opportunity doesn't happen with everyone. I'm very fortunate for that, and I'm just very excited to get in there and meet my teammates and start developing myself and that locker room, and learning from that great organization they have."
» The Colts and head coach Frank Reich are the perfect fit for Eason's development: From his days as an NFL QB to now as a coach, Colts head coach Frank Reich is considered a quarterback guru who can develop raw quarterbacks and get the most out of them.
Eason has spent some time talking with Reich throughout this draft process and sees that same opportunity as well.
"It's a tricky situation, the draft is, because you can have a great feel going in, but you don't know exactly where you're gonna end up. I'm very fortunate that I ended up in this organization with an outstanding group of guys in that locker room," Eason said. "I think Coach Reich is gonna be awesome for me. In terms of my learning and my development, I don't think that I could've gone to a better organization. So I'm very fortunate to be in this position. I would've been happy if it was first round, second round, third round, fourth round, or sixth round pick. I'm just very fortunate to have been picked up by the Colts, and they believe in me, which means a lot to me, and I'm gonna do my best to prove them right."
As far as his play on the field, Eason is already working on some of the mechanical things that he needs to improve in his game to become a better, more accurate quarterback, as well as some of the more cerebral arts of the game and understanding situational football.
"You know, I think a lot of that is really me trying to work on my consistency. Knowing the situation, whether it's a first or second-down shot versus you need a shorter completion on third down. I think that's a big factor in it all," Eason explained. "A lot of things that I've been working on are lower half to making sure I hit those throw when I do take shots more consistently. The accuracy involved, the footwork, the subtle movements in the pocket. There's a ton of things I've been working on in these last couple months to get ready for this next level, and I think they'll translate well. I'm looking forward to getting this playbook and diving into Indy's offense and getting all the help I can to better my own career. I'm super fortunate to be in this position, there's a lot of work to go, and I'm super excited to get started."
» Eason hopes to establish himself as a leader as well as prove the naysayers wrong: One issue brought up on the national draft broadcast was possible concerns about Eason's football character, in terms of work ethic and things of that nature.
The Colts simply don't invest in players with poor work ethic, so they obviously feel comfortable with Eason.
"A lot of the criticisms come from stories of early on in my college career. I think I've had a lot of time to learn and grow from those situations. People haven't seen the preparation and the process it took to go down to Indy for the Combine and get ready for this draft, the interviews and all that stuff," Eason explained. "There's a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors that people don't get to see, and that's fine because I like to keep some of my life private. I know deep down that I'm getting that work in that I need to be successful, and I'm gonna continue to do that. I'm just really excited to be part of this team and this organization, and I'm looking forward to getting in there and learning and getting to work."
Not only does Eason plan to prove his worth and earn his teammates' trust by working tirelessly, but he hopes to eventually become a leader on the team.
"When I transferred to Washington, I had to sit out due to transfer rules, so I wasn't allowed to even suit up on Saturdays. So what I did was, every area around playing on Saturdays, whether it was in the weight room, the film room, just being a locker room guy, just running the scout team at practice, everything. Everything I could do to kind of prove myself and develop myself as a leader outside of actually playing on Saturdays is what I tried to do," Eason said when comparing his redshirt season at Washington to his rookie year with the Colts. "I think that paid off because this last season I was able to boost myself up as a leader, and I think guys responded to that well. It's a similar situation coming to Indianapolis. We've got an established veteran with Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, who I'm very excited to learn from and grow from and bounce ideas off of. It's gonna be the same thing; I'm gonna bust my butt in any way I can, whether that's practice, weight room, film room, I'm gonna be a guy who's gonna work my butt off, put my best foot forward and learn and grow and become the best football player and person I can be."
Especially in his time at Washington, Eason has become quite the competitor and hard worker that he plans to bring here to Indianapolis.
"Whether it's in the weight room, whether it's in practice — in college, you have all these competitions. You have fourth quarter finishers, and this and that. Whether it's trying to win all of those or picking a guy up behind you or just being an encouraging voice. Those are areas I kinda stepped into this last season and was able to prove myself as a leader," Eason said. "When a big play happens on a football field, everyone's all fired up, and I was able to celebrate with the guys up front, or would celebrate with the receivers or running back who made the play. The compassion and the fire and the energy kinda came out of me. It was awesome. I'm looking forward to bringing some of that juice to the next level, whether it's cheering on my teammates from the sideline or on the practice field or in the weight room."
» Eason's confidence, passion for the game drive him: "I'm a very big believer in confidence, and I have a lot of confidence in the way that I can play the game," Eason said. "The game is really what drives me. The satisfaction of winning football games, and going out and playing in front of huge fan bases. I know Indy's got a great fan base just like I had at Washington and Georgia. My drive to be the best at what I do really just kinda comes from within me. I really enjoy going out there and doing the work on my own, whether it's just throwing one-on-one with my QB coach or throwing routes on air to my receivers. I think every step along the way, I can learn something new and pick something up there. I'm just very excited to get in and learn and see how Philip and Jacoby do it, and get in there and challenge myself with this next opportunity. I'm just very thankful."
Get your first look at quarterback Jacob Eason after being selected 122nd overall by the Indianapolis Colts.