Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Moving Up To Take Jonathan Taylor, Day 3 Impact Players, Parris Campbell's Role, Jadeveon Clowney Interest?

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INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.

Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here.

Let's jump right into this week's questions:

Heath S. (New Castle, Ind.): "No ?s just wanted to say what a great draft.And let Colts nation know if they don't have a favorite Colts player yet they are about to. Rodrigo Blankenship will become a fan favorite in a heartbeat. Thanks and go Colts...."

Walker: Hear, hear!

I will say, when names started leaking out as possible undrafted free agent signings right after the draft ended, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship seemed to really be a popular choice among the Colts' fanbase. I actually thought Blankenship would get picked up by some team in the draft, so the fact the Colts were able to sign him as an undrafted free agent seems like pretty good value for a guy who will get every chance to battle it out against another youngster, Chase McLaughlin, for the team's kicking job heading into the 2020 season (and that, of course, is barring any possible Adam Vinatieri developments).

By the way, found this interesting: both Blankenship and McLaughlin went their entire college careers without missing a single extra-point attempt. Blankenship hit all 200 of his tries at Georgia, while McLaughlin converted all 79 of his. McLaughlin would see that carry over into his rookie season in 2019, when he connected on all 26 extra-point attempts in 11 games with the Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.

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Eric S. (Wabash, Ind.): "Hey, Andrew. Of the day 3 picks from the Colts' 2020 draft, who do you see as a guy who could make a surprise impact this season? Jordan Glasgow seems like a guy who could grow on the staff pretty quickly due to his special teams ability. Even still, Isaiah Rodgers has some kick-off return ability. Would love your thoughts."

Walker: If we're talking immediate impact, I'd have to agree with you on Jordan Glasgow. Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, assistant special teams coach Frank Ross and general manager Chris Ballard all became enamored with Glasgow's abilities as a core special teamer during his career at Michigan, where he racked up 27 special teams tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, and he also blocked a punt. Glasgow won't just be given a spot on the 53-man roster, however; he'll have to battle the likes of Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin, Skai Moore and E.J. Speed as a key piece of depth at linebacker behind starters Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker and Bobby Okereke.

As for the Colts' other Day 3 picks, we know quarterback Jacob Eason is coming in to learn and be developed under Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett; Danny Pinter will be transitioning from tackle to guard/center, and while he could prove to be a quick study, the Colts are set with their starting five up front for now; defensive tackle Rob Windsor could very well make a terrific impression, but at this point, at most, he'll be a rotational piece in the interior of the defensive line; cornerback Isaiah Rodgers could be given a legit shot at winning the kickoff returner job — so keep an eye on that — and that ever-important backup job at nickel cornerback seems up for grabs; and Dezmon Patmon will be one of several wide receivers vying for just a couple open spots on the depth chart, so will he be able to possibly make a mark on special teams to separate himself a little bit? We'll see.

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Zach K. (Overland Park, Kan.): "Coach Reich and Chris Ballard both talked a lot before the draft about "not forcing it" at QB and that they would need to find the right fit. Does this mean Eason was the top man on their board? Or would they have possibly gone Love had he dropped to the second? I'm curious as to who exactly was that "right fit" in their eyes."

Walker: Yeah, I'm not quite sure we'll ever know what could've happened had Jordan Love dropped into the second round. It sure seemed like that was going to be in the cards until the Green Bay Packers traded up to the 26th-overall pick to snag him. Love is a really promising prospect with a lively arm, and I realize there was a lot of people connecting dots between Love and the Colts in the pre-draft process, but we move on. As for Jacob Eason, yes, it simply came down to the board. When Indy went on the board with the 16th pick in the fourth round (122nd overall), they saw an opportunity to pick up, like Love, another high-ceiling quarterback prospect with a lively arm; but, as a fourth-rounder, Eason has some work to do to become a more complete QB. So, taking that into consideration, Eason was the "right fit" because he can come in and learn from head coach Frank Reich, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and veteran quarterbacks like Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, and then here in a year or two you check back in and see where Eason is at and if he's ready to compete for the starting job.

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Ben B. (Geneva, Ill.): "Hi! I hope you guys are going well, How do you guys plan on utilizing Parris Campbell, Jordan Glasgow, Daurice Fountain, and Dezmon Patman next season? First of all, I understand that Campbell had a tough rookie season mostly due to injuries and I am really hoping he will get a chance to prove his potential somehow with the speed he has. Will Campbell be in as WR3 or a kick returner? I believe that he will be able to bounce back and turn into a really good player in the long run. I feel like I'm feeling a mixture of Devin Hester and Reggie Wayne vibes from Campbell. Second of all, When Ballard drafted Jordan Glasgow out of Michigan that he was going to be placed on special teams and I agree Glasgow is perfect for the special teams. However, I am hearing stuff about Glasgow playing a part in safety or linebacker, I understand he played for these different kinds of parts when he was at Michigan. What can the Michigan product contribute to the Colts in the future? I would love to know what Dezmon Patman can do as well. Finally, what is the situation with Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon? I'm looking forward to next season! Go Colts!"

Walker: I'm just telling you right now: it's going to be an outright battle at the wide receiver position this offseason into training camp and the preseason. We know this much: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. are likely locked in as your top four receivers, but beyond that, how many more spots do you keep on the 53-man roster at wideout? One? Two at most? Remember: the Colts added a fullback, Roosevelt Nix, this offseason, so if they keep him heading into the regular season, that's one less spot elsewhere on offense. That means, as of now, nine receivers are going to be vying for one or two spots: Rodney Adams, Ashton Dulin, Daurice Fountain, DeMichael Harris, Malik Henry, Marcus Johnson, Dezmon Patmon, Artavis Scott and Chad Williams. No matter what, there are going to be some really talented guys who don't end up making the Colts' final 53-man roster at wide receiver, and I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of those players end up on the active rosters of other teams when all is said and done.

I think Campbell, for now, is the Colts' slot receiver and he'll be in the mix to compete for the kick returner job (assuming running back Nyheim Hines is your punt returner when all is said and done).

I addressed Glasgow above; right now, he's being projected as a linebacker and special teamer.

If Patmon can really harness the ability to "play big" — he's 6-foot-4, 225 pounds — then I think he could end up being a really nice find by the Colts in the sixth round. It's not that Patmon hasn't displayed that ability before, but he said he was really starting to get a grasp on it as his last college season wore on. He has the potential to be a major matchup nightmare; too big for corners, too fast for linebackers and safeties.

And when it comes to those two safeties, Khari Willis is more your strong safety type, while Julian Blackmon is more of a free safety. They both can do it all at the safety position, but that's where I'd project them playing most of their snaps here with the Colts.

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Nick H. (Spring Lake, N.C.): "First of all I'd like to say i hope everyone is staying safe in this quarantined life. Now i like the johnathan Taylor pick but i thought we could have used another cb there.... I was also surprised that we didn't draft aTE ....thoughts?"

Walker: Nick, all is well here at home, thankfully. I hope you and yours are healthy and staying as sane as possible in your homes. I'm sure the Colts had a cornerback or two high up on their board that they were going to consider with the 44th-overall pick (their second pick in the second round after taking Michael Pittman Jr. at 34th overall), but they simply just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get an elite playmaker in Jonathan Taylor. To me, this is the perfect example to back up general manager Chris Ballard's claims that the team doesn't tend to pick for needs, but rather for the best player available; Taylor was far and away the top player on Indy's board, and the team was so enamored by him that it was willing to jump ahead three spots, adding a fifth-round pick in addition to the 44th pick in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, to get to No. 41 overall and snag Taylor for an offense that already had plenty of firepower at running back. So, for now, the team will move on with what it has at cornerback, but don't forget the additions of free agents Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie, as well as sixth-round pick Isaiah Rodgers, at cornerback this offseason. As for the tight end position, it sure didn't seem like a particularly deep class going into the draft, and I think that ended up playing out on all three days. Again, there's no doubt in my mind the Colts were interested in multiple tight ends on Days 2 and 3, but in the end they just simply had other players higher up on their board and/or perhaps the tight ends they wanted ended up getting taken elsewhere.

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Eduardo C. (San Juan, Puerto Rico): "I really enjoyed the virtual draft process and how smoothly it ran.Now having said that , I want to congratulate Ballard, Reich and Mr Irsay on our GREAT PICKS!! I was surprised but, very pleased by our pick of Jonathan Taylor!! How do you think he will impact our offense and what do you think will be his contribution in rushing yards??"

Walker: Wasn't that whole virtual draft setup awesome? I give kudos to the NFL, as well as to the NFL Network, ESPN, ABC and everyone involved with the draft broadcast for a job well done handling this unprecedented event. And the Colts surely seemed to get the job done on their end with their nine-player draft class, so maybe working from home a little bit more moving forward ain't so bad. As for Jonathan Taylor, I'm extremely interested in how the Colts will approach their "1-2 punch" at running back this season. Marlon Mack, to me, is a top-ten running back in the league, which he proved last season with his first-career 1,000-yard performance, and now Taylor, who is about as pro-ready as it gets, enters the equation. I can truly see a pretty good split for both guys in terms of rushing yards in 2020; maybe 600 to 700 or so for each? But then again, I also know Frank Reich tends to ride the hot hand at the running back position, so if either Mack or Taylor get going behind that offensive line, the Colts might be tempted to lean one way or another. This will undoubtedly be a storyline to keep an eye on as the first few weeks of the season start to play out.

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Daniel C. (Indianapolis): "I like the pick for Taylor didn't love it however. My question with Safety a concern and Hooker is a concern why didn't the Colts take Delpit when they traded up for Taylor? I guess that's my question."

Walker: As I mentioned above, I think it's the same response whether you're talking safeties or cornerbacks: I have no doubt the Colts had players at both positions high up on their board while gearing up to select again in 10 picks after taking wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. at No. 34 overall. But they loved Jonathan Taylor so much — his fit offensively, his football character, his value to the locker room — that they just had to figure out a way to get him, so they traded up three spots to snag him at 41st overall. You hear it all the time, but the Colts and Chris Ballard live it: the team's basic draft principles include taking the best player available, and only if there's a relative tie between two players on the board do the Colts consider positional needs into the equation. Taylor was undoubtedly the top player on their board, so they got him. Simple as that.

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Brian S. (Indianapolis): "Any chance at this point after addressing the interior of the defensive line that the Colts will considering adding Jadaveon Clowney for help from the edge?"

Walker: This is a tricky one, Brian. Because the Colts do have some cap room left to spend, and a guy like Jadeveon Clowney sure would be a heck of a pickup for the defense. But I think we also need to consider a couple things here: first, Clowney probably needs to undergo some testing by team medical personnel before being signed, wherever he ends up. With the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders in play, it's near impossible for those team doctors to get their hands on Clowney at this time. Secondly, the Colts have a ton of key guys entering the final years of their respective contracts in 2020, including T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Justin Houston, Denico Autry, Ryan Kelly, Marlon Mack and Anthony Walker. While it's not likely every single one of those players returns to the Colts in 2021, you have to keep enough in the coffers to re-sign at least a few of 'em. So I'm not completely ruling out the possibility of the Colts sneaking into the Clowney sweepstakes at some point, but I'd say at this point it's not likely.

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Owen L. (Manchester, England): "Will Parris Campbell and Pittman get the amount of snaps the fans want? I really like Campbell and hope he has a breakout year, but with the solid hands of Pascal and Rogers alongside Hilton, I feel they may be limited this season. I think Pittman has the capability of being a top class all round receiver, but will he and Parris he allowed to showcase their talent? I think it helps having Rivers who can hit all of them deep, and I am confident the play calling will suit them. Overall it was a top draft and I believe we are in a solid position moving forward. Love the podcast."

Walker: While I think all four of the Colts' top four receivers — T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. — have the ability to line up anywhere on the field and be effective, I think all four of them will have pretty specific roles for the most part. Pascal and Pittman Jr. appear like they're ideal "X" receivers; they're the bigger guys that you line up on the outside and can withstand being jammed at the line of scrimmage and still create separation. Hilton should continue to thrive as the primary "Z" receiver, because you can put him motion before the snap and move him all over the place and let him utilize his speed and elite route-running ability to break open. Campbell, meanwhile, seems ideal as the slot, or "Y," receiver, where he can utilize his speed and potentially get some favorable matchups against linebackers or safeties. And thanks for listening to the Colts Official Podcast! It's been a bit different getting it done from our homes, but I know it's a labor of love for Matt Taylor, Jeffrey Gorman, Casey Vallier and the rest of our crew.

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Jordan K. (Fontana, Calif.): "With the addition to Jonathan Taylor, what role will Jordan Wilkins be in the Colts offense?"

Walker: I honestly don't think Jordan Wilkins' role changes too much moving forward. He remains a key piece of depth at running back; the "traditional back" that can spell Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor from time to time, and then someone who also plays key roles on special teams. Wilkins has thrived in this role since being taken in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft; he's had 111 combined carries for 643 yards and three touchdowns in 2018 and 2019; over that span, his 5.79 yards-per-carry average ranks second in the NFL among all running backs with at least 111 carries. Wilkins' 6.02 yards-per-carry average in 2019 ranked first among all NFL running backs with at least 50 carries.

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Hunter S. (Pittsburgh): "What number will Jonathan Taylor be wearing this season?"

Walker: Jonathan Taylor and the rest of the Colts' 2020 NFL Draft class were assigned their initial uniform numbers earlier this week; Taylor will be in No. 28. To see the whole list, with a little bit of historical perspective for each rookie's new number, click here.

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Amy S. (Port Charlotte, Fla.): "I'm a huge fan of this organization and have been my whole life but my burning question is will Adam Vinatieri get re-sign for his one-year contract so then he can retire as a colt?"

Walker: First off, thanks so much for your support of the Colts, Amy. Hope Florida is treating you as well as possible during these times. And as it pertains to Adam Vinatieri, no news right now is … well, just that: no news. Vinatieri went on injured reserve on Dec. 9 last year, and he subsequently underwent knee surgery. Last we knew, Vinatieri was still working hard to recover from that procedure and rehab his knee, and until he had a good grasp on where he was in that process, he wasn't going to make a decision one way or another on his potential future in the NFL. So as soon as he makes any sort of decision, we'll let you know.

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