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DraftNerds – 2024 Indianapolis Colts Mock Draft

It's mock draft season! @TheSmingDynasty is up next in our #DraftNerds series with a full mock draft for the Indianapolis Colts. #ForTheShoe

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Most of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2024 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site.

2023 Season Recap

Coming off of a 4-12-1 record in 2022, not much was expected of the Indianapolis Colts in 2023. The Colts had a very young roster. They had a first-year head coach in Shane Steichen. Star running back Jonathan Taylor sat through a contract dispute. Notably, they started a raw but exciting rookie quarterback who unfortunately got injured. After Anthony Richardson’s injury, they started popular journeyman backup quarterback Gardner Minshew.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

Oh, how those expectations were exceeded. The Colts lost a “Win and In” game to the Team of Destiny Texans in the week 18 finale, ending their surprise season with a 9-8 record. Now, they enter 2024 with renewed expectations. However, the teams in the AFC South are no longer a laughing stock. The Texans and Jaguars provide an imminent threat to any hope the Colts have for another year of success. Shane Steichen showed great promise in his first year as an NFL head coach. Can he continue that success now that the Colts have a bigger target on their backs?

2024 Free Agent Departures – Offense

Star wide receiver Michael Pittman certainly leads this list. A second-round pick in 2020, Pittman enters the spring as an unrestricted free agent. Pittman himself has said he plans to explore his options, but I think the Colts will find a way to bring him back for next season. The Colts enter the offseason with over $70 million in cap space, and even if a long-term contract isn’t finalized, the Colts can use the franchise tag on Pittman. His potential loss would be unfathomable for the Colts offense and letting him walk would be malpractice on the part of the Colts’ GM, Chris Ballard.

Furthermore, backups Gardner Minshew and Zack Moss are also free agents. Minshew did exactly what he was brought in to do: win games as a high-value backup. The Colts would be wise to bring back Minshew, but he may look elsewhere if opportunity knocks. Much like the roster around him, Moss played well above expectations last season, filling in admirably during Taylor’s absences. Again, as with Minshew, Moss may try to look elsewhere for a starting opportunity, knowing that Taylor is entrenched in the Colts backfield.

2024 Free Agent Departures – Defense

Next, we turn our attention to the Colts defense. A weak secondary could be hurt further by the potential loss of star cornerback Kenny Moore. Now 30 years old, Moore is coming off of a career year. He is the heart of the Colts secondary, ranking 18th among cornerbacks in PFF’s rankings. The Colts can ill-afford to lose a leader like Moore.

Safety Julian Blackmon is another notable free agent for the Colts. He just finished the final year of his rookie deal and is a leader in their defensive backfield. Blackmon is a tackling machine and a flexible piece for Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley, able to play both free and strong safety. Additionally, Blackmon has played in the slot for the Colts when needed. I believe Chris Ballard will re-sign Blackmon to a contract extension over the next month or two.

Finally, run-stuffing defensive tackle Grover Stewart is a free agent. His presence in the middle of the line is integral to the Colts’ success. Although, like the aforementioned Moore, he just turned 30, it sounds like the Colts will re-sign Stewart to a multi-year extension as we enter free agency. If not, many teams in the NFL will welcome him with open arms.

2024 Mock Draft

1.15 Brock Bowers, TE Georgia

My first choice for the Colts here was a cornerback like Cooper DeJean or Nate Wiggins, but the much-touted tight end prospect fell to me here in our staff mock.

The Colts have a history of outstanding tight ends. Think John Mackey and Dallas Clark. However, for too long lately, the Colts have languished in replacement-level tight end hell. Dynasty players know the frustration all too well. The Colts seem to want to use their tight end, but they just can’t pin down who can be that player for them. Is it Mo Alie-Cox? Kylen Granson? Jelani Woods? Will Mallory? Enter Brock Bowers.

At this point, is there anyone reading this who doesn’t know who Brock Bowers is? One of the best college tight ends of all time, Bowers has been a superstar since he stepped foot on the field for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Colts need to surround Richardson with playmakers, and what better choice at this point in the draft than Bowers? Remember, Steichen came from Philadelphia, a team with another long history of using their tight ends. Moreover, when Richardson played before getting injured, he heavily targeted their tight ends, much more so than the wide receivers like Michael Pittman. It is doubtful that Bowers will gain value in dynasty drafts from where he is now, but I believe the Colts would be an ideal landing spot for everyone’s favorite rookie tight end crush.

2.46 Patrick Paul (OT – Houston)

Despite a few notable injuries, the Colts offensive line played well in 2023. Their third-round draft pick from 2022, left tackle Bernhard Raimann, broke out in a big way. Right tackle Braden Smith missed several games last season and has struggled with knee issues. His replacement at right tackle, fourth-round rookie Blake Freeland, struggled when thrust into a starting role. Like most teams, the Colts can use help and depth on their offensive line.

At 6’7″, Patrick Paul is a large, large man. He is athletic but also somewhat raw and needs to improve his blocking techniques. He was one of the standout players at this year’s Senior Bowl, and I think teams will be targeting him around this range in the second round of the NFL draft.

Paul is a perfect player for the Colts to draft, hoping he can take over at tackle in a year or two. A multi-year team captain for the University of Houston Cougars, Patrick Paul has the leadership, athleticism, and experience to thrive with NFL coaching.

3.82 Jarvis Brownlee, Jr. (CB – Louisville)

Another Senior Bowl standout, Jarvis Brownlee, fills a need for the Colts. Brownlee stood out in practice and the Senior Bowl game, making a key fourth-quarter interception. Although he is only 5’10”, Brownlee is a physical corner who uses his long arms well in press coverage. Starting his career at Florida State, he was one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC last season despite being hampered by a foot injury near the end of the season. In addition to decent coverage, Brownlee checks off stat boxes in sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles. The Colts would be getting great value in Brownlee in the third round of the NFL draft.

4.118 Khyree Jackson (CB – Oregon)

Why not go back-to-back with cornerback selections? There are few similarities between Jackson and Brownlee when it comes to their position. Unlike the diminutive Brownlee, Jackson stands 6’3″ and weighs 205 pounds. With that size, he plays exceptionally well in the red zone, and he was also named as a player rising up draft boards based on his time in Mobile.

Last year at Oregon, Jackson contributed mightily to the defense. He posted 34 tackles (five for loss) and added two sacks. Additionally, he is credited with seven pass breakups and three interceptions. He will be a popular target for teams needing secondary help at the beginning of the third day of the NFL draft.

5.150 Jordan Jefferson (DL – LSU)

Ah, Jordan Jefferson. If you were following Senior Bowl week, you may remember Jefferson from an ugly incident where he threw another player’s helmet in frustration.

Helmet-tosses aside, Jefferson is a run-stuffing interior defensive lineman. While he doesn’t offer much in the pass-rushing department, he is athletic and explosive. Standing all of 6’4″ at 315 pounds, Jefferson would be a valuable addition to the middle of the Colts’ defensive line. He may need to come off the field on obvious passing downs, but he is the perfect kind of athletic developmental talent to be taken here in the middle of day three.

6.193 Jaylin Simpson (S – Auburn)

The final piece in my apparent rebuild of the Colts’ secondary is here in the sixth round with safety Jaylin Simpson from Auburn. Simpson began his career playing corner but has since moved to safety. Is that where he will end up in the pros? It remains to be seen. Simpson has a smaller frame, coming in at a lanky 6’1″ but weighing only 178 pounds. With his profile, Simpson may only profile as a backup or high-value special teams player. That said, he is quick and athletic, with only one year of experience playing safety. Taking a player this late on day three of the NFL draft always comes with risk and projection.

7.232 Carter Bradley (QB – South Alabama)

This takes me to my final pick for the Colts, South Alabama quarterback Carter Bradley. In a week that was not filled with great overall play from the quarterbacks, Carter Bradley showed competence and professionalism at the Senior Bowl.

Bradley began his career with four years of patented MACtion at Toledo. As a fifth-year senior, he took his talents to South Alabama. After taking his team to the postseason, Bradley was forced to miss the 68 Ventures Bowl Game due to a knee injury. However, he still made school history as the first South Alabama quarterback invited to the Senior Bowl. In 2023, Bradley threw for 2,660 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He posted a 67.8% completion rate and threw for 8.2 yards per attempt.

Most importantly, however, you may have heard of Carter’s father, Gus Bradley. Gus was the former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and is the current defensive coordinator of the (you guessed it!) Indianapolis Colts. You can just see the video of the NFL Network war room call now, can’t you?

2024 Fantasy Impact

Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see where Brock Bowers will be drafted this April. With a player of his stature, there aren’t many poor landing spots. He is the best tight end prospect to arrive on the NFL scene in quite a long time. Whether it be to a team like the Chargers at 5, the Saints at 14, or the Colts at 15, Bowers’ dynasty lookout will remain unchanged. His ADP and rank are already high in anticipation of his name being called, wherever it may be.

And if it is the Colts? Draft him with confidence. Shane Steichen’s offense wants to feature the tight end, and quarterback Anthony Richardson is a perfect fit for Bowers’ play style. Marry the two together, and you have one of the surest rookie hits at the position in recent memory.

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