Colts: Justin Houston would probably still be with Indy if draft plans didn’t change

Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Colts DE Justin Houston (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The 2021 Draft didn’t go according to plan for Indianapolis Colts fans, who were on their knees begging for the team to draft a left tackle with either of its first two picks.

Of course, the Colts nabbed a pair of defensive linemen — Kwity Paye, who shockingly fell to No. 21 overall, and Vanderbilt product Dayo Odeyingbo, who’s coming off a torn Achilles but should be back in the rotation a month or two into next season.

When it comes to the Paye pick, Indy was absolutely stunned he managed to fall beyond the first several picks. After all, he was widely regarded as the top pass rusher in this year’s class and some mock drafts had him going inside the top 10.

As it turns out, the Colts were fully preparing for Paye to be off the board by No. 21 overall (rightly so), and the latest post-draft buzz suggests they identified offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw as their pick before the Michigan star fell to them.

In other words, veteran Justin Houston would probably still be with Indianapolis if their hand wasn’t forced in terms of altering their draft plans on the fly.

The Colts changing their draft plans likely sealed Justin Houston’s fate.

During the latest episode of the “One Percent Better” podcast with insiders Zak Keefer and Stephen Holder of The Athletic, Keefer disclosed that the Colts were ready to take Darrisaw, who ended up going No. 23 overall to the Vikings.

"“So they thought he (Paye) might go as high as No. 10,” Keefer said. “Which is very telling, right? That’s how they had their board. Their board is not going to look like a lot of the mock drafts you see out there. I think a lot of NFL teams would probably agree with that.”“And basically, the decision was made before Thursday night rolled around for the first round of the draft. You know, they had (Christian) Darrisaw on the board, and it was Darrisaw, and they liked Darrisaw, but they loved Kwity Paye. And I think that’s what came through.”"

If the Colts went with Darrisaw and Odeyingbo with their first two picks, they would’ve had no other choice but to re-sign Houston. After all, GM Chris Ballard basically admitted during a recent press conference that Paye is replacing the four-time Pro Bowler, who enjoyed great success in Indy’s defensive scheme over the last two seasons.

Everyone will have their own opinion, but you have to think the Colts got this right. It’ll no doubt sting if Darrisaw realizes his potential and becomes a world-beater, but the fact they signed a proven commodity at left tackle in Eric Fisher makes the Houston pill easier to swallow.

This report proves the Colts had serious conviction in Paye, who was never supposed to be available at No. 21 overall. Drafting the former Wolverine in that spot could turn out to be a steal of epic proportions down the road, and the fact Indy “loved” him and just “liked” Darrisaw proves this was the right call.