The Colts rookie class is clamoring to get on the field with something to prove, and Frank Reich can help Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman take a leap.
The Colts traded their first-round pick to the 49ers for DeForest Buckner, and like many Colts fans, I was at first disappointed, as I wanted Auburn’s Derrick Brown at that spot. Many other fans wanted a top-flight receiver at that position, too.
While both were positions of need, I made the argument that we could draft a player that needed development, or we could get a superstar at his position still in his prime on a team-friendly contract.
The Colts front office is very good at evaluating talent for two reasons:
- They evaluate based on need and not want
- They evaluate character as well as football skills
Chris Ballard is a no-nonsense guy and he proved it when he let go of Eric Ebron, just one year outside of his 13 touchdown season where he dominated the AFC South. Ballard strikes me as a GM who puts the team first and makes sure everyone around him is willing to make those sacrifices; this is why Reich and Ballard make such a good team, as both have the same mentality.
Leading the team, Frank Reich is a man who makes sure everyone is on the same page and shoots for the stars when developing players. A prime example is Zach Pascal, who stepped up big time last season with T.Y. Hilton out for a few games. Pascal was a waiver pick up from the Titans in 2018 after the Titans signed him as an undrafted free agent. Pascal had five touchdowns, over 600 yards, and had a 14.8 yards per catch average.
Another player who broke out last season was Bobby Okereke from Stanford. The rookie linebacker played very well in place of Darius Leonard and made sure opposing teams knew who he was at the end of the game. Okereke gained 43 tackles with 22 stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. On top of that, he only had five missed tackles all season long cementing himself as a premiere linebacker on the Colts roster for years to come.
This year, however, the Colts focused on offensive weapons in the draft. And Reich’s culture is ready to help a few talented Indy rookies take a major step in their development.