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The NFL draft is finally almost here! Chris Ballard and his staff are making final preparations so they can rock the weekend that they spent the last year working hard for.
The Indianapolis Colts likely won’t be talked about much on the first night of draft weekend unless they make a splash move back into the first round or for a veteran player on the market.
Regardless, whenever they are on the clock for the first time then they have to land themselves a first-year player that can make an impact on the 2022 season. Even though the team has Kenny Moore II and Stephon Gilmore on the roster, there still are some question marks among the cornerback group.
It was a part of the roster that hurt Indianapolis at times throughout the season because it lacked the depth to handle the injuries that often occurred.
Selecting a corner prospect does make some sense for Ballard, I take a look at the pros and cons if the front office goes that route with their first pick:
Be sure to check out our pros and cons list for other positions as well:
Pro: Adding competition for a starting spot
Stephon Gilmore has a boundary spot, Kenny Moore II is in the slot, but the opposite side of Gilly Lock is up for grabs in training camp. Isaiah Rodgers and Brandon Facyson are currently the lead dogs in the group to win that job but there hasn’t been a vote of confidence in either player that they can be the guy.
The old saying “iron sharpens iron” remains true in the NFL and adding talent to compete for a starting gig is never the wrong answer. Adding a rookie corner can help elevate everyone’s game and it can help bolster the back end of that position group for the season.
Moore and Gilmore can also help tutor the first-year player along with Rodgers to help improve the young corner’s play on the field. If Chris Ballard does draft one then it is a move that can help now and in the future.
Con: Potentially no impact this season
To be honest, I am squeezing my eyes on finding a con in a cornerback selection because I do view it as a positive move for the Colts. This will be the first time I am only selecting one con and it is the same as one that was listed if a tackle was selected.
Potentially no influence on the outcome of the season. As I’ve reiterated often in these articles, with no first-round pick, it is very important that the first selection in this draft needs to make an impact on this roster.
Isaiah Rodgers and Brandon Facyson are more than capable of winning the starting job and even beating a rookie out for the first corner off the bench if an injury did occur. It is plausible that a first-year corner would be at the bottom of the depth chart and would just find most of his playing time on special teams.
After dealing with a number of injured cornerbacks in 2021, I am sure that Frank Reich would take this scenario over that. But if a second-round rookie (or first?) doesn’t see much of the field in year one then it would be a disappointment if a player selected right after is helping another team.
Pro: Fills depth and helps future
One of the biggest reasons why a cornerback selection is a beneficial move for this roster is because of how much the group was a detriment to the team at times last season.
The biggest culprit in making an issue for the defense was injuries. Especially late in the fourth-quarter collapse to the Baltimore Ravens on a Monday night. Kenny Moore II is as durable as they come but he’s a big loss if anything happened. Stephon Gilmore has only logged in 19 of his last 33 games and only registered three starts in his quick stint with the Carolina Panthers.
Chris Ballard said he was confident in his medical report but there is still that concern. A rookie cornerback helps out with depth issues even if he doesn’t win a starting job.
The position can be hard on the body and it doesn’t take much to knock one out for a game. This can give Gus Bradley more confidence with more talent brought into the group. Gilmore turns 32 in September and is only on a two-year contract, Chris Ballard also has to think about the future and a cornerback prospect helps address that.
Potential options at No. 42
Luckily for the Colts, there are some solid cornerbacks that should be available on Day 2 of the NFL draft. Indianapolis will have a chance to find a starter for this season and beyond. Here are a few options that Chris Ballard can consider this weekend:
Andrew Booth might need a trade-up to make it happen but his talent would be worth the price. He’s got the athleticism for the position, good ball skills, and he fits the culture of the Colts’ defense. He will come up and lay a hit.
Kaiir Elam is another corner prospect that could fall in the back end of the first round or at the start of the second round. He’s got great size for a cornerback and is one of the quickest players at the position in this class.
Roger McCreary might not have the ideal size for a cornerback but he makes up for it with his sticky coverage and aggressiveness against the run. He also is capable of kicking inside to the slot. That could be beneficial if anything happened to Kenny Moore II.
If Indianapolis is unable to land one of those three prospects then they can turn to options like Cam Taylor-Britt, Tariq Woolen, Alontae Taylor, and Zyon McCollum.