Entering the draft, the Indianapolis Colts seemed like a surefire bet to address one of the left tackle, defensive end, or wide receiver positions with their first-round pick.
When the dust settled, the board fell perfectly for the Colts, as they had their choice between pro-ready tackle Christian Darrisaw, who somehow made it beyond the top 20 selections, and physically-gifted edge rusher Kwity Paye.
Though fans would’ve endorsed either player, Chris Ballard ultimately decided that Paye was the pick, which tells you just how much the fifth-year general manager believes in his potential. After all, he reportedly turned down a trade-back offer to draft the former Wolverine.
While the Colts have a promising pass rushing prospect on their hands, we can’t help but speculate what the pick means for Justin Houston’s future. They’ve been linked to a reunion with the 32-year-old, but they haven’t gained any ground on the negotiation front of late.
What does the Kwity Paye pick mean for Justin Houston’s future?
Full disclosure: we actually had this article written after Day 1, assuming that the Colts would address their left tackle vacancy at No. 54 overall. In the immediate wake of the Paye pick, we were actually in favor of Indy re-signing Houston at the right price.
After all, relying heavily on unproven pass rushers — like Paye, Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay, and Ben Banogu, all of whom have combined to start just 13 games in the NFL, would be a gamble given that this roster is seemingly on the precipice of being able to compete for a championship.
Then, however, the second and third rounds of the draft transpired, and the Colts — bypassing multiple opportunities to trade up and snag a touted left tackle — held serve with their Round 2 selection and shocked everyone by drafting Vanderbilt edge rusher Dayo Odeyingbo, who’s coming off a torn Achilles and might not be ready to contribute until October.
The pick adds yet another body to a crowded Colts defensive line rotation. So, what does it all mean for Houston? Well, while speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the third round, Ballard essentially confirmed that Houston will not be returning to Indianapolis.
It sounds like the Colts are going to ride or die with their ample young pass rushing talent. It’s worth noting that Odeyingbo can play on the edge or in the interior, so there should be plenty of snaps to go around for Paye, Lewis, Turay, Banogu and Al-Quadin Muhammad.
We certainly didn’t view a Houston reunion as make-or-break as far as Indianapolis’ playoff hopes are concerned. However, it’s pretty befuddling to think Ballard opted against trading up for a left tackle in order to draft his fifth (!) defensive linemen in the first and second rounds since 2017.
Sorry to disappoint, Colts fans, but your dreams of the four-time Pro Bowler returning on a cheap one-year deal were wiped away pretty much the moment Odeyingbo was drafted.