Colts: It’s too risky to solve left tackle and pass rushing voids with rookies

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Defensive end Justin Houston #50 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 13: Defensive end Justin Houston #50 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts have two big needs they need to fill heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, as the retirement of Anthony Castonzo and the team’s reluctance to bring back Justin Houston on a long-term deal has the Colts looking for a left tackle with a higher ceiling than Sam Tevi and a potential stud pass rusher for the next decade.

The Colts had plenty of options that they could’ve gone after on the free agent market, but Ballard decided to once again keep a tight grip on his purse strings, and the Colts didn’t make any acquisitions at those positions bigger than Tevi or Isaac Rochell. 

Ballard and owner Jim Irsay appear to be in lockstep in regard to this approach to roster building.

Appearing during a “Kick the Stigma” presser aimed at combating inadequate mental health treatment, Irsay took some football questions, and he seems to think that the draft is the best way to fill these two holes.

Irsay claims that the team is improved when compared to last year’s team despite not being very active in free agency.

He also expects the team to look at improving in the trenches in the draft, hinting at this very risky strategy by saying “there’s a lot of options” in this class at those two positions.

The Colts shouldn’t address key positions with rookies.

Ballard has proven that he can hit some home runs in the draft given the presence of Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson, but hasn’t always had the best success rate at drafting depth pieces, as Ben Banogu and Kemoko Turay have both failed to make the leap many expected they would.

For all the glitz and glamour that passing games can provide, having a strong offensive and defensive line will help even a marginally talented roster rise to the top. Just as we’ve seen from the Kansas City Chiefs, what happens in big games when one, or both, of those units falter? Indy’s grand plan to fix these two units is…a bunch of rookies?

Make no mistake adding a player like Samuel Cosmi, Teven Jenkins, Jaelan Phillips, or Azeez Ojulari would be terrific selections for the Colts. However, Indianapolis has the chance to completely dominate this division for a half-decade, and Ballard choosing to be so cheap when identifying replacements in key areas is very concerning.

Ballard has made his bed, and now it is time to sleep in it. The Colts will try to win a division title with either backups starting at key positions or rookies learning on the job, all because he didn’t want to break open the checkbook. Simply put, this is not ideal.