Colts: 3 unexpected first-round targets for Chris Ballard
If general manager Chris Ballard has taught Indianapolis Colts fans anything, it’s that his approach is pragmatic and by the book.
However, when you have a roster (seemingly) on the precipice of contention, there are times the front office has to think outside the box and go beyond conventional wisdom.
The fact of the matter is that the Colts still have major needs (offensive line, pass rusher, linebacker, cornerback) and have opted not to fill them in a big way via free agency.
Many would argue it’s risky to address all or most of them with the addition of rookies in the draft.
If Ballard wanted to, he could bring back Justin Houston right now and check off the pass rusher box. He can also take care of the offensive line and/or cornerback needs via the trade market. Ravens OT Orlando Brown is there for the taking and the Patriots would likely be willing to trade one of JC Jackson or Stephon Gilmore if they got a favorable offer.
Right now, everyone’s expecting the Colts to draft either a pass rusher or offensive lineman with their No. 21 overall pick. But let’s have some fun and say Ballard takes care of those two needs before the draft starts. Then we could be looking at some intriguing scenarios with that selection.
Here are three unexpected first-round talents the Indianapolis Colts can target at No. 21.
3. Kadarius Toney
Least likely to happen, but easily the most fun. If you look at the Colts wide receiving corps as currently constructed, only Michael Pittman Jr. stands out as a long-term option. TY Hilton’s one-year deal will more than likely be his last with the team as cap issues down the line begin to limit Ballard’s spending. Zach Pascal will be an unrestricted free agent after 2021. And we have no clue what’s going on with Dezmon Patmon.
So … why not take a wideout at No. 21 if given the chance? Who better than Kadarius Toney, too, at that point? The former Florida Gators star was among the most electrifying playmakers in the country and is only getting bumped into the late first round because of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle — three other world-class talents.
Toney would immediately make the Colts’ offense more dynamic too. We’ve seen him run the ball, wreak havoc in the slot, burn defensive backs deep, and catch that big pass on third and long when the team needs a play. The 6-foot, 193-pound speedster can be utilized in all sorts of packages. That’s how he’ll be able to find the field early and often despite the Colts seemingly being set at wide receiver.
The more weapons for Carson Wentz, the better. The more matchup nightmares the Colts can create with a balanced rushing and passing attack, the better. Toney would certainly be a surprise at No. 21 for Indy, but it’d be a win-now move.