Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Indianapolis Colts 2024 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2024 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Indianapolis Colts? What are they saying about the Colts' 2024 draft haul?

NFL.com - Grade: B+

Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: B
Day 3 grade: A-

Analysis: Latu was the most consistent pass rusher in the draft class and will be productive if the neck injury he suffered while at Washington is not an issue moving forward. The team found a potential steal in Mitchell, provided his game matures, while trading down for two Day 3 picks. Trading up for Gonclaves seemed unnecessary, though he should be at least a solid swing tackle; he's been recovering from a foot injury but said after the draft that he feels 100%.

Bortolini looks like Ryan Kelly's heir apparent; he also has the experience, strength and athleticism to play guard until needed in the middle. Gould brings real value as a returner, especially with the new kickoff rules. Carlies moves from safety to linebacker for the Colts. Simpson could man corner or safety; the athletic defender played both spots in college. Abraham is the son of former NFL player Donnie Abraham and a tough-minded corner in his own right, but the team is still looking for depth at edge.

ESPN - Grade: B

Top needs entering the draft: Cornerback, wide receiver, safety, edge defender

The Colts were one of the teams coming into Round 1 with a clearly defined biggest need. They really had to get a cornerback who could step in and start as a rookie for a defense that struggled to stop No. 1 wide receivers last season. While I thought they might also target a pass-catcher to give second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson more help, corner was the biggest hole for GM Chris Ballard & Co. So color me surprised when not only did Ballard pass on a corner in Round 1 -- when he had his choice of the entire class -- but he didn't take one until Round 6.

Indianapolis instead went with edge rusher Laiatu Latu (15), who will help this team as a rookie. I love the player but don't quite understand what Ballard sees in his defensive back room that I don't. He could have gone with Cooper DeJean, Terrion Arnold or Quinyon Mitchell and upgraded at corner.

Outside of that move? I like the majority of Ballard's class. Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (52) could be a steal if he lives up to his potential. He was uncoverable at times at both Georgia and Texas. Matt Goncalves is a good offensive tackle with interesting tools. Tanor Bortolini (117) is a solid sixth offensive lineman option. Safety Jaylin Simpson (164) is a safety/nickel hybrid who tested extremely well at the combine. As ESPN's Matt Miller said on the broadcast Saturday, Jonah Laulu (234) got rave reviews at his pro day and is a Round 7 flier worth taking.

I like the players in Ballard's class, but I'm still curious about why he didn't take a corner earlier. That's a miss ... unless there's some sort of trade for a veteran coming down in the weeks after the draft.

The Ringer - Grade: B+

THE COLTS MADE ONE OF MY FAVORITE PICKS IN THIS DRAFT IN UCLA PASS-RUSHER LAIATU LATU, who was my top-ranked defender in this class. Latu gives the team a tenacious hand-fighter on the edge and the potential to produce double-digit sacks if he can stay healthy. The selection of Adonai Mitchell in the second round is one of the most interesting picks from this weekend; the former Texas star is a boom-or-bust playmaker who brings top-tier upside if he can harness all his physical tools. Mitchell never produced big-time numbers in college, but he gives second-year QB Anthony Richardson a big-time ball-winner and red zone weapon. Colts GM Chris Ballard also added depth to the offensive line and bolstered the team's safety position later in the draft—but those first two picks, if they hit, could become foundational pieces for this roster.

USA Today - Grade: A-

They might have gotten the draft's best defender, UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu at No. 15 before getting a Round 1-caliber wideout in Adonai Mitchell at No. 52 — and he arrives carrying an ax to grind with the rest of the league. Mid-round O-line upgrades (Pitt's Matt Goncalves and Wisconsin's Tanor Bortolini) are rarely a bad idea, though a corner in one of those spots might have made more sense.

Fox Sports - Grade: C+

Four of the Colts' first five picks addressed the offense. They've done everything they can to make quarterback Anthony Richardson, returning this season after an abbreviated rookie year, as comfortable as possible — and you can't blame them. Receiver Adonai Mitchell represented great value late in the second round. With that being said, Indianapolis could have used a cornerback high. The team has some uncertainty at the spot, which is especially important in the receiver-loaded AFC South. That represents a gamble for Indy. —Arthur

CBS Sports - Grade: B+

Best Pick: I love the pick of receiver Adonai Mitchell in the second. He is a tall, fast receiver who will give them a nice addition to Michael Pittman and Josh Downs.

Worst Pick: I like third-round offensive lineman Matt Goncalves from Pittsburgh, but he went a round or two too high. He will be a backup early in his career and might end up being a guard.

The Skinny: I liked the Colts' first four picks, but I would have taken Dallas Turner at No. 15 rather than Laiatu Latu, the pass rusher the Colts took. Latu does fill a need. Mitchell might end up being a steal. He is big and can run. The Colts had a good, solid haul.

Sporting News - Grade: B-

Analysis: Latu and Mitchell were absolute coups to start the draft for GM Chris Ballard. Indy reached a little for offensive line and secondary help, but that extra depth was needed for the defense. Gould brings one more versatile weapon for second-year QB Anthony Richardson, too.

SI - Grade: B+

Analysis: This is a quality class for GM Chris Ballard. The Colts snagged Latu to bolster their pass rush before getting a steal in Mitchell, who many believed was a top-25 pick. If those two picks hit, this is already a good haul, not to mention the bevy of high-upside selections in the third round and beyond. Ballard built up his skill-position talent and lines, giving Anthony Richardson the best chance to succeed.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: A

General manager Chris Ballard's NSFW rant against anonymous scouts after the second day of the draft wound down should be placed in the Louvre. Put your name on it, or shut the bleep up.

Anyway, the Colts didn't have much else to complain about here. They got the best pass-rusher in this class in Laiatu Latu, who probably would have been a Top 10 pick without the medical concerns. And Adonai Mitchell — the prospect Ballard was defending — can be the X receiver the Colts need if he can keep his head in the game when he's not the target. That's me saying that, and it's based on tape study.

Another receiver to watch out for is Oregon State's Anthony Gould, who projects as a speed slot receiver who can win in the NFL right away. Combine star Tanor Bortolini is a highly athletic center, and maybe head coach Shane Steichen had Jason Kelce flashbacks from his days as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Not to compare Bortolini to Kelce at his Hall of Fame best, but in 2011, Kelce was a sixth-round afterthought. You just never know.

Selecting two safeties picked on the third day when the Colts already have Julian Blackmon and have been known for single-high looks may presage more two-deep stuff from Gus Bradley. If that's the case, I especially like Auburn's Jaylin Simpson in that role.

More: 2024 NFL Draft Grade Roundups