Wednesday, May 22, 2024

5 realistic targets for Colts in first round of NFL draft | Sporting News

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The Indianapolis Colts are just a few days away from the start of the 2024 NFL draft, and it’s likely their big board is finally coming together.

Holding the No. 15 overall pick in the draft, the Colts have several ways they can go about using the selection. They could sit tight and take the best player available at a position of need. They could move back and acquire more draft capital. There’s even some chatter they could move up if an elite prospect falls into a certain range.

With the draft just a few days away, here’s a look at the realistic targets for the Colts in the first round:

Colts first-round NFL draft targets

1. TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

Adding explosiveness to the offensive side of the ball is crucial. There may not be a more explosive player pound-for-pound than Bowers. The advantage he will bring a team at the tight end position comes with extremely high upside.

MORE: Colts would ‘run in the card’ for Brock Bowers

The Colts probably won’t have any issues with positional value at No. 15 overall. Bowers should be viewed more as a weapon than a traditional tight end. His career at Georgia saw him produce as the team’s top target constantly. He was a three-time All-American, racking up 175 receptions for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns over the span of 40 games (37 starts).

Bowers would be a fantastic selection for the Colts if he falls to them at No. 15 overall.

2. WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

In terms of fit and need, Thomas checks just about every box. The Colts could use a vertical threat from the Z-receiver position to complement Michael Pittman Jr. on the other side. Look no further than Thomas.

MORE: NFL draft analyst explains why Colts are perfect fit for Brian Thomas Jr

Though he only has one year of production, Thomas was incredible in LSU’s offense. A true deep threat, Thomas is a long-striding vertical threat with elite speed and explosiveness. In 2023, he recorded 68 receptions for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns.

He may still be a work in progress in terms of developing a full route tree, but he can be an immediate impact player as a deep threat in Shane Steichen’s offense.

3. CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

The cornerback position is one of total need for the Colts. They have a young room when it comes to their boundary cornerbacks to go along with veteran slot defender Kenny Moore II, who was re-signed on a three-year deal this offseason.

Arnold is a perfect match for the Colts. He’s lengthy, athletic, physical and can work both in man coverage and in zone. He’s willing to do the dirty work in the run game, and his ball skills will show up on Sundays. His only real flaw is a lack of elite long speed, but he does everything else so well that it doesn’t matter most of the time. He also ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, which is far from terrible.

Adding to the secondary is a must for the Colts during the draft and if they start out their haul with Arnold, it would be a strong beginning to the weekend.

4. CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

On the other side of the coin, Mitchell is a very popular prospect for the Colts. He was one of the biggest risers throughout the pre-draft process, which started with a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl. That’s a big deal to the Colts.

Mitchell combines elite explosiveness with physicality on the boundary. He has excellent ball skills, evident from his 52 career passes defensed during his final three seasons at Toledo. Mitchell is ready to start at the NFL level right away, and he’s a near-perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s defense.

5. EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

While it’s unlikely the Colts will go with an edge rusher during the first round, we should never discount the possibility of Chris Ballard adding to the trenches. Dallas Turner is likely a top-10 pick, which means Verse could be in the range for the Colts, especially if they trade back from No. 15.

Verse brings a relentless motor to the edge. It’s a fantastic complement to his explosiveness and length, both of which show up constantly on tape. He’s an extremely disruptive defender on the edge, and he complements his physical traits with impressive hand usage.

It wouldn’t be the most fun selection, but Verse would make the Colts better on the defensive side of the ball both immediately and in the long run.

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