Indianapolis Colts need a defensive tackle – and may take one from South Carolina at #13

Chris Ballard will be smiling on draft night if Javon Kinlaw is still on the board at 13.

No one knows who the Indianapolis Colts are going to take with the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft.  Until teams target and sign free agents, we won’t even know what their needs will be on April 23rd.

Nobody even knows whether the Colts will actually draft 13th.  They could move back and get extra picks.  Maybe general manager Chris Ballard moves up, but that doesn’t seem to be a strategy he embraces in the first round.  It’s expensive to move up, and GMs who do better by right.

Mock drafts are popping up all over the place.  Many have the Colts grabbing quarterback Jordan Love.  Others believe Ballard will grab a wide receiver like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy.  My money is on the Colts taking a defensive tackle.

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The logic for the Colts taking a three-technique is two-fold.  First, Ballard is relentlessly honest, and he may have laid out the path shortly after the end of the season, “The 3-technique drives this thing. It does. Every time I’ve been a part of this, the 3-technique drives this.”  Dominant three techniques aren’t available in free agency very often, so the draft makes sense as a source.

Second, history suggests really good defensive tackles are available at #13.  Over the last nine drafts, five DTs have been selected at with the 13th pick, including Aaron Donald – the five-time first-team All Pro for the Los Angeles Rams.

The other four have been a little hit and miss.  Nick Fairley was highly thought of coming out of Auburn in 2011, but is now out of football.  Sheldon Richardson played in one Pro Bowl after being drafted in 2013, but has played for four teams in the last four seasons.  Da’Ron Payne made the All-Rookie team in 2018 for the Redskins.  Last year, Christian Wilkins was productive if not spectacular in the middle of the defensive front for the Dolphins.

The Colts drafting a defensive tackle at 13 will have a lot to do with what happens prior to that pick.  Auburn’s Derrick Brown is expected to be off the board long before Ballard has a chance to grab him, so that leaves Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina as a top tier prospect at the three technique.  If Kinlaw is taken by the Browns, Jets or Raiders (the three teams that immediately precede the Colts in draft order at 11, 12 and 13), Ballard will have to pivot toward another position or trade down.

Kinlaw is a young man we will learn a lot about over the next 10 weeks.  He was homeless as a teen, played at a Juco to get his academics straight, and learned a hell of a lot at South Carolina in building the resume’ as a future millionaire.  He has lofty goals – among them becoming the best defensive tackle in the NFL.

By the way, the last quarterback taken at #13 was Chris Miller in 1987.  That’s not to say getting a franchise QB type can’t happen there, but most GMs either take a quarterback early – as will be the case for Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa – or wait to grab one with apparent flaws later.

Anyone who watched the excellent Colts produced video, “The Colts Are on the Clock” has a pretty solid idea that trying to outguess Ballard and his front office is ridiculous.  Smart guys for the Colts will evaluate during the NFL Combine, execute player interviews to make sure those they draft fit, spend frugally (if history is any clue) during free agency, and then put together their board. So will the 12 teams scheduled to draft ahead of them.  Then they will decide who to take.

And most of the experts will find out they were wrong.

I’ll stick with Kinlaw as my choice and feel good about it until Ballard out-thinks me, which is damn likely.

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