The Indianapolis Colts vastly improved this offseason, but they still have holes that need to be filled. Which player makes the most sense at pick No. 42 in this year’s NFL Draft?
In 2021, the Indianapolis Colts had the best running back in football, a stout offensive line, an elite defense, and were well on their way to making the playoffs going into the final game of the year. That is until they fell to a 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars squad and subsequently missed out on the postseason entirely. Failing to build off their 11-5 record from the year prior, and heading into an offseason clouded with uncertainty.
To make matters worse, the Colts traded away their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to acquire Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles (who was then traded once again to the Washington Commanders). And now enter April as one of only seven teams without a single pick in the first round.
Thankfully, the Indianapolis Colts were able to make a big splash recently by acquiring former Pro-Bowl quarterback and MVP of the league, Matt Ryan. They also still carry a deadly run game spearheaded by Jonathan Taylor, a young up-and-coming receiver in Michael Pittman Jr., and one of the better offensive lines in football.
Not to mention a defense that’s loaded with playmakers like Kenny Moore, Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and the freshly-minted, Yannick Ngakoue.
With that being said, Indianapolis does have some massive holes to fill before the start of the 2022 regular season, most notably at cornerback, wide receiver, and offensive tackle. Luckily, there is a player in one of these positions of need that should fall right into the Colts’ lap come draft day.
Why do the Indianapolis Colts need Roger McCreary?
It’s no secret that the Indianapolis Colts need another receiver to play opposite of Pittman. Especially if they want to take advantage of Matt Ryan’s exceptional arm talent, while also creating a more balanced and unpredictable offense.
However, I don’t think that any of the top five receivers in the draft will still be available when it’s the Colts’ turn to pick at No. 42 in the NFL Draft. Plus, they still have more than enough cap space to snag one of the remaining free-agent wide receivers, like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, or Matt Ryan’s old running mate, Julio Jones.
Similarly, there are still a few veteran free agents available at offensive tackle that the Colts could sign to low-end deals, including Eric Fisher, Duane Brown, or Jason Peters. Each of whom has invaluable starting experience and could adequately fill the role for the upcoming season.
But with just Kenny Moore and Isaiah Rodgers remaining on the depth chart at cornerback, the latter of which has seen limited action in the NFL. This is clearly the best position for the Colts to target with their first pick in the draft and Roger McCreary offers the most value for an early-mid second-round pick.
McCreary is a three-year starter for the Auburn Tigers and has been one of the most productive corners in college football since 2019. Accumulating 130 tackles, 10 TFLs, 6 interceptions, 31 passes defended, and 1 pick-six in that time.
As a 5’11”, 190-pound cornerback that ran a 4.5 at the combine, he may not possess the elite physical traits that other top DBs in the draft have, like Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. Though he’s easily one of the more consistent and battle-tested players in the country, which should allow him to become an instant-impact starter at the pro level.
A former first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American, McCreary is described as a ball-hungry shutdown corner with exceptional instincts, awareness, and reactive athleticism. Which allows him to excel in man-to-man coverage, and line up just about anywhere on the field.
In fact, McCreary’s had 25 forced incompletions since 2020, which is the most in college football, and earned the highest PFF grade against press coverage in 2021 (86.8). He was also targeted 20+ yards downfield 18 times last season and allowed just two catches and zero touchdowns.
It doesn’t hurt either that McCreary’s even been compared to the one man the Indianapolis Colts are trying to replace, Rock Ya-Sin. Who was coincidentally also drafted in the second round back in 2019.
Even though McCreary’s arm length measured at the combine probably scared off a few teams, this didn’t appear to hinder his performance at all in college. In fact, many deemed him a first-round talent before the NFL combine at the beginning of March.
Which kind of works out perfectly for Indianapolis because they don’t have a first-round pick, and McCreary is currently ranked as the 7th cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft. So, he should fall right into the Colts’ lap early in the second round.
Obviously, the Indianapolis Colts have enough cap space to just grab a veteran free agent as well. Although, by drafting McCreary, they’d be getting an instant starter that they wouldn’t have to worry about paying right away. Making him an absolute steal if he’s still available with the 42nd overall pick.