Colts' Top 2021 NFL Draft TargetsApril 26, 2021
Colts' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets
Heading into the 2021 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts should be looking to build on a playoff-ready roster that has largely been shaped through the draft.
Centerpieces like Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Julian Blackmon all made their way to Indianapolis through the annual selection process. And while the Colts have traded for key players like DeForest Buckner and new starting quarterback Carson Wentz, their recent draft track record is strong.
Indianapolis managed to win 11 games this past season with an aging Philip Rivers under center. If Wentz can regain some of his previous form, the Colts should be back in the playoff mix this season.
Which draft prospects could best help Indy return to the postseason in 2021? Here we'll examine three who should be on the Colts' radar in the early rounds.
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Indianapolis Colts need to find a long-term answer at left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo. While they may have to move up for Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw, he could be the perfect replacement.
According to The Athletic's Zak Keefer, Indy does have interest in Darrisaw.
"Mocks have been tapping Darrisaw to the tackle-needy Colts for months, and the team's interest is real. (Darrisaw says he's developed a good relationship with the Colts' East Coast scout, Mike Derice, and has interviewed with the club)," Keefer wrote.
Whether Indianapolis would need to trade up to secure Darrisaw will depend on where other tackle prospects like Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater wind up going. Even if there isn't an early run at the position, though, the Colts may need to jump ahead of the Washington Football Team and the Chicago Bears to ensure they get Darrisaw. Washington and Chicago pick 19th and 20th, respectively, and could be in the tackle market.
Payton Turner, Edge, Houston
Adding an edge-defender early on Day 2 would make a lot of sense for the Colts. While Indianapolis did log 40 sacks as a team last season, 9.5 of those came from Buckner, who rushes primarily from the interior. Another eight came from Justin Houston, who remains unsigned.
While edge-rusher could be a position to target in Round 1, there are no sure things in this draft class. Rolling the dice in the second round would make more sense, especially given the need to solidify the tackle spot.
Houston's Payton Turner could be the perfect high-upside pass-rusher for the Colts to target.
"Turner is a big, long 4-3 defense end with natural play strength and a surprising level of bend and agility for his size," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote. "His technique and footwork are a little spotty, though."
While it may require some coaching to make Turner a consistent disruptor at the next level, he could be a difference-maker by the time Indy is ready to make its playoff push.
Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
If the Colts are unable to land an offensive tackle in Round 1, North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz could be a prime second-round target—and not simply because he comes from the same program as Wentz.
Radunz is far from a perfect prospect, but he is a tenacious run-blocker who could open huge holes for Jonathan Taylor and the Colts rushing attack.
"In the run game, he is excellent," Drae Harris of The Draft Network wrote. "He has a nasty disposition as a run-blocker and wants to maul you. He can improve his proficiency at getting on moving defenders at the second level, but there's nothing alarming in this regard."
While some teams may view Radunz as a guard rather than a tackle, the Colts could have options in that regard. They haven't ruled out moving Nelson to left tackle, so Radunz could theoretically slot in at guard if he fails to develop early on the left side.