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Colts prepare for 2024 NFL draft

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard. (WISH Photo)

UPDATE: With the 15th pick in the the first round of the 2024 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Colts have seven picks as they get prepared for the 2024 NFL draft in Detroit, Michigan.

The first round will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday in downtown Detroit. Rounds 2-3 will begin at 7 p.m. Friday. Rounds 4-7 will begin at 12 p.m. Saturday.

The Colts hold seven of the draft’s 257 picks. Indianapolis enters the draft with the following picks:

  • Round 1: Pick 15 – 15th overall.
  • Round 2: Pick 14 – 46th overall.
  • Round 3: Pick 18 – 82nd overall.
  • Round 4: Pick 17 – 117th overall.
  • Round 5: Pick 16 – 151st overall.
  • Round 6: Pick 15 – 191st overall.
  • Round 7: Pick 14 – 234th overall.

In a Friday press conference, Colts General Manager Chris Ballard answered multiple questions about his approach to this year’s draft:

Question: Having a year with Shane Steichen now and seeing that proof of concept with what he wants out of his players – how does that impact the draft evaluation process?

Answer: “It’s really good because it makes it – when you go in there and you start looking at players together and then when he starts looking at the board and can tell, ‘This is how we’ll use this guy. This is how he fits.’ From a GM perspective, that’s a beautiful thing now, knowing that he’s got a vision quickly for the player and it’s not a vision of negativity with many guys where he sees the strengths really quickly and will figure out a role for how this guy can play for you. That’s fun, that makes it fun.”

Q: How many first round grades do you have?

A: “Oh gosh, I just left the freaking room too. Why don’t you all come on in, I’ll let you take a look at it. I want to say that we had 19-21, right in that area.”

Q: You mentioned wideout back at the NFL Combine, anything else stand
out to you depth wise?

A: “It’s pretty good. I think there’s a few positions that has got some real
depth, like the o-line. The o-line in this (NFL) draft is really excellent, and
there’s depth throughout. I truly believe you’re going to get a really good
player in those mid rounds and even some later because of the depth
of the group. Wideout is very similar, it is excellent. Those two position
groups stand out, they’re both really good.”

Q: Has anything stood out to you about your board this year whether it’s
bigger than normal because of the players took longer to come out?

A: “I will say this, I do think you’re going to see a lot of offensive players taken early in the first round. It’s a, I’m not saying it’s a weak defensive draft but, but it’s a really strong offensive draft, especially at the top of it.”

Q: Has your draft philosophy or has your evaluation philosophy changed
or evolved over the last seven or eight years?

A: “Yeah, I would like to think I’m growing. I mean, yeah in a lot of ways. The
longer you do this, even scouting, the longer you do it, you hope you can
grow and figure out who are the ones – you’re always looking for unique
talent, unique traits in a player. But then also on the flip side of that,
making sure the character has always been very important to us without
question. But making sure that we are drafting not only the unique traits
but also some substance with it with the tape. Now, we’ve always been
pretty consistent with that but there’s times where we’ll take a chance.
I know where you’re getting at, because we’re going to trade back, and I
can already see the article (laughing).”

Q: To that point, you have always stressed the value of picks and looked
for ways to get more picks. Is your roster in a different place? I don’t
know how many roster spots there are.

A: “That’s a good point. I’m just – history. I just go off history. The more
picks you have, the better chance you have to hit. Now, of course you’re
not going to hit on all of them but it gives you more of a chance to hit.
Look, we’ve moved up. We moved up for Jonathan Taylor. When we see
one that’s in striking distance that we think we can go get, we’ll do it but
it’s got to work out and then you’ve got to have somebody that wants to
make the trade.”

Q: It’s always most expensive to do that in the first round, obviously. Do
you see yourself actually considering moving up?

A: “Well, I just said we’ll probably move back (laughing).” I don’t know, I
think it would depend – I think it would depend. There would have to be
somebody within striking distance that we felt was really unique and a
difference-maker for us.”

Last year, the Colts drafted University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Richardson started and played in four games during the 2023 season, where he threw for three touchdowns and one interception for a 87.3 passer rating. Richardson also had four rushing touchdowns. Richardson’s rookie season was injury-riddled. He suffered a concussion in a Week 2 win against the Houston Texans, and suffered a Grade 3 AC joint sprain in a Week 5 win against the Tennessee Titans that eventually placed him on injury reserve. Richardson later underwent successful shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his rookie season.

Major contributors from the Colts 2023 draft class include second round Kansas State University cornerback Juju Brents (an Indianapolis native and Warren Central graduate), third round University of North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs, fourth round Brigham Young University tackle Blake Freeland, and seventh round Texas A&M University cornerback Jaylon Jones.

Brents played in nine games with eight starts, where he tallied 42 tackles, six passes defended, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Downs played in all 17 games with nine starts, where he tallied a Colts rookie franchise-record 68 receptions for 771 yards and two touchdowns. Downs also had six punt returns for 63 yards and two kickoff returns for 24 yards. Freeland appeared in 16 games with nine starts, with seven starts at right tackle and two starts at left tackle. Jones appeared in 17 games with 10 starts, where he recorded 43 tackles, one tackle for loss, and five passes defensed.

Fourth round Northwestern defensive tackle Adetomiwa Adebawore played in 10 games and recorded four tackles, one tackle for loss, one special teams stop, and 1.5 sacks. Fifth round University of California safety Daniel Scott spent the entire 2023 season on injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL in the last day of organized team activities. Fifth round University of Miami (FL.) tight end Will Mallory appeared in 12 games with two starts, where he compiled 18 receptions for 207 yards. Fifth round Northwestern running back Evan Hull saw action in one game, and tallied one carry for one yard and one reception for six yards before being placed on injured reserve. Sixth round Wagner College defensive end Titus Leo and seventh round Northern Michigan University tight end Jake Witt spent the entire 2023 season on injured reserve.