Winners and losers from Colts’ 2021 draft

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Kevin Hickey
·4 min read
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The Indianapolis Colts are rounding out their roster with a few undrafted rookie free agents following their seven-player class in the 2021 NFL draft.

You can follow our undrafted free agent tracker before they announce the signings, but the draft class should have a pretty big impact on the roster and a number of the players that were already there.

Though the players haven’t stepped on the NFL field yet, their selections could provide some players to have a cloudy future with the team. Conversely, a lack of a pick at a certain position could help boost another player’s stock into a larger role.

Here are the winners and losers from the Colts’ 2021 draft class:

Winner: OT Sam Tevi

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest winner, for now, coming out of the draft is Tevi. The Colts signed Tevi to a one-year deal after Anthony Castonzo retired. With Tevi and Julién Davenport, it seems there is a competition for left tackle but with the way the former's name seems to always come up, it's safe to say he's the favorite right now. Tevi is a massive winner because the Colts didn't select an offensive lineman until the seventh-round when they took Will Fries out of Penn State with their final selection. The Colts could certainly add a veteran tackle like Eric Fisher or Charles Leno, which would keep Tevi out of the starting conversation, for the most part. But if they don't, he could very well be the blindside starter in 2021.

Loser: DL Tyquan Lewis

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

This isn't to say Lewis won't be playing in 2021. He's likely to be a prominent player in the defensive line rotation. But beyond 2021, there are plenty of question marks about his future. The Colts used their first-round pick on Kwity Paye, who is likely to eat into Lewis' role at strong-side defensive end. Then they doubled down to grab Dayo Odeyingbo, who is a perfect fit for the Denico Autry role when he returns from his Achilles injury. Lewis has progressed in each season and he could still carve out a role and another contract with the Colts, but he's got some strong competition to go against when Paye and Odeyingbo are both healthy.

Winner: CB Rock Ya-Sin

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Ya-Sin has a big season coming up in a prove-it campaign entering Year 3. He has flashed the talent that shows he's worthy of that second-round pick the Colts spent in 2019. Then there are other times it is clear teams are targeting him as a part of their game plan because they think they will find success. And while the Colts brought back both Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie on one-year deals, Ya-Sin still has a chance to prove himself as a starter on the boundary because the Colts didn't use any of their picks on a cornerback, which was thought to be a possibility. It will be a big year for Ya-Sin, but he'll have the chance to earn a starting role again.

Loser: DE Isaac Rochell

The first outside player the Colts signed in free agency was Rochell, which was a bit of head-scratcher seeing as he doesn't meet the team's athletic standards except for maybe with his arm length. Even so, the defensive front for the Colts just got much deeper with the selections of Paye and Odeyingbo. Rochell was a fringe roster player to begin with and now that the Colts have the arrival of two very high-upside rookies, there's a chance he doesn't make the active roster to begin the season. It will be interesting to see how training camp goes. The Colts signed him for a reason, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the team decides to keep others over him.

Winner: LB E.J. Speed

Matt Kryger/IndyStar

The Colts let Anthony Walker Jr. go in free agency, which means the starting duo at linebacker will be Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke. No surprise there. But this means Speed could be the LB3 in the rotation now that the Colts didn't draft a linebacker. A fifth-round pick in 2019, Speed has enticing traits and now he has two seasons of development under his belt. Maybe he sees a slightly bigger role now, and it's certainly possible seeing as there isn't anyone ahead of him after the starting two.

Loser: QB Jacob Eason

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts used their sixth-round pick on quarterback Sam Ehlinger from Texas, which means Eason has some serious competition for the backup role behind starter Carson Wentz. Though Eason was likely a better prospect coming out than Ehlinger was, but there is an argument that the latter is a better fit for what the Colts want behind Wentz. Ehlinger is more mobile than Eason even if he doesn't have the same arm talent. Regardless, there is a chance Ehlinger beats out Eason for the backup role and then we are wondering why the Colts used that 2020 fourth-round pick on him.

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