Assuming that most of their targets would be off the board, the Indianapolis Colts were considered one of the favorites to trade back in the first round of the draft.
After several selections fell in GM Chris Ballard’s favor, however, he was able to nab edge rusher Kwity Paye with the No. 21 overall pick, which was an absolute steal given how many experts rated him as their top pound-for-pound pass rusher as well as a potential top 10 pick.
All good, right? Well, it was … until Day 2 came around and Ballard bypassed countless opportunities to trade up and resolve the team’s left tackle conundrum. Instead, the fifth-year general manager stayed put and drafted another DL, Dayo Odeyingbo out of Vanderbilt.
Given that the Colts already have ample young pass rushers at their disposal, this pick, as expected, was met with stern criticism from fans. However, Ballard was quick to defend it following the conclusion of the third round on Friday night.
In fact, (hold your breath, Colts fans) Ballard went as far as to say that he would’ve considered Odeyingbo in the first round had he not suffered a torn Achilles in January.
Colts GM Chris Ballard explained the decision to draft Dayo Odeyingbo.
"“We thought it was worth the risk,” Ballard said. “This kid is a unique, unique talent. We would’ve considered him in the first round if he hadn’t got injured. And I think a lot of teams would have. To be honest with you, I was kinda sweating it out where we were picking if we were gonna be able to get him because we had targeted him. I’m pretty sure he would’ve gone pretty quickly after us. There were some teams I know that really liked him.”"
We’re willing to give Ballard the benefit of the doubt here, as the last time he drafted an injured player — safety Julian Blackmon in the third round (No. 85 overall) last year — turned out to be a steal for the Colts.
For as much as Ballard has struggled drafting pass rushers — Tyquan Lewis, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, each of whom were drafted in Round 2 and haven’t exactly panned out yet — if he regarded Odeyingbo as a first-round talent, we’re going to trust his judgement.
However, the Colts now have countless defensive linemen on the roster. There’s just no way they can keep everyone without creating a log jam, so they’ll likely have to cut bait with one or two of them before training camp. This situation could’ve been avoided, especially when you consider how many quality offensive tackles came off the board before No. 54 overall.
Let it be known that our frustration is being directed entirely at Ballard and the Colts’ front office, not Odeyingbo, who could end up being the stud. We just can’t ignore the absurdity behind drafting another defensive lineman when you already have four viable options and still haven’t addressed your left tackle vacancy (and could still use help in the secondary!).
Again, we fully trust Ballard to construct Indy’s roster the way he sees fit. However, this highly questioned selection has only increased the pressure on pass rush to be one of the Colts’ biggest strengths moving forward. If it isn’t, he’ll have to face the music.