Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard has taken some heat for his recent draft classes, and justifiably so.
While some of his picks — like Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Braden Smith — have proven to be world-beaters at their respective positions, the jury is honestly out on the bulk of his selections.
Given that the Colts are riding a two-game winning streak, let’s focus on a pair of Ballard’s draft gems, because we could all use a little bit of positivity. Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. have been revelations, leading this offense in a colossal way.
It’s scary to imagine where the Colts would be without the young offensive duo, who were taken No. 34 overall and No. 41 overall in the 2020 draft.
In fact, per Lawrence Owen, host of the “Colts Law” podcast, Taylor and Pittman have produced more than half of Indy’s total yards this season.
With both players continuing to ascend up the ranks at the RB and WR positions, let’s take a look at the players that were drafted ahead of them.
Comparing all the RBs and WRs taken before Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman in the 2020 draft.
Here are said players and their stats:
- Henry Ruggs (No. 12 overall): 50 catches for 921 yards and 4 TDs
- Jerry Jeudy (No. 15 overall): 58 catches for 928 yards and 3 TDs
- CeeDee Lamb (No. 17 overall): 107 catches for 1,432 yards and 9 TDs
- Justin Jefferson (No. 22 overall): 129 catches for 1,942 yards and 10 TDs
- Brandon Aiyuk (No. 25 overall): 69 catches for 844 yards and 6 TDs
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 32 overall) 1,465 scrimmage yards and 7 TDs
- Tee Higgins (No. 33 overall): 92 catches for 1,164 yards and 8 TDs
- Michael Pittman (No. 34 overall): 75 catches for 1,011 yards and 3 TDs
- De’Andre Swift (No. 35 overall): 1,531 scrimmage yards and 15 TDs
- Jonathan Taylor (No. 41 overall): 2,260 scrimmage yards and 18 TDs
That’s a lot to take in, but based on where Pittman and Taylor were drafted, the Colts got tremendous value with these picks. We’ll start with the latter, who’s out-produced both running backs that were taken before him.
Edwards-Helaire has struggled with fumbles and injuries early on. It’s not a stretch to say that the Chiefs offense functions better with Darrel Williams at RB.
As for Swift, his stats look nice, but they haven’t resulted in many wins for Detroit. With that being said, this pick has panned out well for the Lions. If they can surround Swift with more weapons, he’ll be a Pro Bowl-caliber player … though we’d prefer Taylor seven days of the week and twice on Sundays.
Now time to analyze the wideouts taken before Pittman.
Something tells us the Raiders, Broncos and 49ers are kicking themselves for passing on Pittman in favor of Ruggs, Jeudy and Aiyuk. The former two are boom-or-bust players, while Aiyuk might be on his way out of San Francisco already. Yikes.
Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb obviously look like superior players, but they were considered generational talents at LSU and Oklahoma. The fact Pittman’s stats even hold a candle to those two studs proves the Colts have a star on their hands.
That should just about do it, folks.
With Taylor, Pittman, Carson Wentz, and most of the offensive line locked up for the long haul, Indy’s offensive future is incredibly bright.