Colts: 3 linebackers Indy should target in 2021 NFL Draft
By Jerry Trotta
It remains to be seen what the Indianapolis Colts plan to do with No. 21 overall pick in this month’s draft, but the stars appear to be aligning for them to draft a left tackle.
As far as the rest of their needs are concerned, we would love to see GM Chris Ballard target a cornerback, safety, linebacker and potentially a tight end.
Speaking strictly in terms of the LB position, however, fans are starting to worry about who’s going to replace three-year starter Anthony Walker, who averaged 107 tackles over his final three seasons, after he signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Browns in free agency.
Former third-round pick Bobby Okereke, who continued to make strides as a sophomore last season, figures to see an uptick in snaps after he logged a 66% share in 2020. However, it goes without saying that the depth behind him and Darius Leonard leaves a lot to be desired.
Taking that into account, the Colts could absolutely justify pouncing on a linebacker in the second or third rounds. Fortunately for them, some of the most talented prospect in this year’s class likely won’t come off the board in Round 1, so they should have their pick of the litter.
The job Indy has to do is determine who would be the best fits for their defense. If we had any say in the matter, these three studs should be near the top of GM Chris Ballard’s draft board.
The Colts should target these three linebackers in the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. Jabril Cox, LSU
Jabril Cox would be an ideal middle-round target for the Colts.
It remains to be seen what kind of linebacker the Colts will target this month, but if they decide to emphasize coverage skills, Jabril Cox is without a doubt the best prospect in this class. He was utterly dominant as a safety for North Dakota State, but his prowess in coverage didn’t enter the national spotlight until he transferred to LSU before this past season.
At 6-foot-3 with 32.7-inch arms and excellent speed, Cox can break up plays with ease and close ground in a hurry during plays he seems to be beaten on. Whether it’s man or zone coverage, the young linebacker is equally adept and nothing proves that more than his annual grades.
Over is final three seasons — two of which were spent at NDSU — Cox received coverage grades of 87.4, 85.2 and 83.5 from Pro Football Focus. That’s virtually unheard of for a college player, but his production didn’t stop there, as he recorded eight interceptions and 11 passes defended during that span.
Cox might not be the flashiest defensive player, but he’s as dependable and as consistent as any defender (let alone linebacker) in the 2021 class. If that doesn’t make him a perfect fit on the Colts defense, which has a plethora of unsung heroes, then we’re not sure what will.