Which late-round rookie is most likely to step up for Colts like Rodney Thomas II?

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

Do the Indianapolis Colts have a late-round rookie from the 2023 NFL Draft that could step up for the team like Rodney Thomas II did last season?

One of the biggest surprises last season for the Indianapolis Colts was Rodney Thomas II. The Colts used their last pick of the 2022 draft, round seven, pick 239, to select Thomas out of Yale. When Indy drafted him, not many people knew much about him, not even the on-air analyst. It was just known that Thomas was an athletic defensive back that played multiple positions.

Following the draft, people assumed Thomas would fight for a roster spot and contribute on special teams and as a depth piece if he made it. However, he ultimately became a starting safety and one of Indy’s more consistent players as a rookie. Playing in all 17 games, Thomas started 10 and recorded 52 tackles, six pass deflections, and four interceptions. He’ll now return for year two as one of Indy’s young bright spots.

Consideirng his immediate success, it’s only fair to ask if the Colts may have a late-round rookie that could breakout and be a contributor similar to how Rodney Thomas II was as a rookie. Indy has a few day-three guys that were selected in the fourth and fifth round like Adetomiwa Adebawore and Darius Rush that could be instant contributors, but we’re talking the late, late rounds.

Of the three guys Indy selected in the sixth and seventh round, Titus Leo, Jaylon Jones, and Jake Witt, could one of them become an impact player as a rookie?

Could Titus Leo, Jaylon Jones, or Jake Witt emerge for Colts in 2023?

Titus Leo is a edge defender, Jaylon Jones is a corner, and Jake Witt is an offensive tackle. Based on positions alone, Jones and Witt seem like the two most set up to be called on as rookies. The offensive line struggled incredibly last season, and if a rookie can prove themselves, they’ll certainly be thrown into the mix. Witt will have to compete with fellow rookie lineman Blake Freeland who was drafted in the fourth round, in addition to the veterans.

Jones, on the other hand, is in a position group that has recently garnered a lot of attention for the Colts. With Isaiah Rodgers Sr. being investigated by the NFL for a possible violation of the league’s gambling policy, Indy’s cornerback room will be extremely young and could have two rookies starting. Jones is one of the rookie cornerbacks Indy drafted, along with Julius Brents and Darius Rush.

Considering the lack of depth at corner for Indianapolis, Jones has to be the most likely late-round rookie that could breakout in his first year. He’s essentially in a position battle with two other rookies and a second-year player. If Jones dominates in training camp, he could open the season as a starter. Even if he doesn’t, but makes the roster as a backup, he could be one play away from being a starter— similar to Rodney Thomas II last year.

Thomas made the most of his opportunity and secured a starting role; Jaylon Jones will try to do the same.