Outside of the Carson Wentz trade, the Indianapolis Colts' 2021 offseason maneuvers — including free agency and the NFL draft — left many fans and most media fighting back a bad case of the yawns. That's life with GM Chris Ballard.
However, just because Ballard isn't the type to make tectonic free-agent moves or maneuver in the draft to capture all the headlines doesn't mean his wherewithal as a front-office czar is in quesiton. The proof is in the pudding thus far for Indy — even with spotty quarterback play, Ballard has led the Colts to the playoffs in two of the five years he's been in the front office.
Everyone knew the Colts would draft an edge rusher in the first round, and probably the most commonly-mocked prospect to Indy was Michigan's Kwity Paye. Sure enough, that's who Ballard drafted.
With that being said, where do the Colts stand now with the two roster-building phases of the offseason being in the rear-view? ESPN released its post-draft power rankings and despite dropping two spots, the Colts still checked in at No. 12.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Post-free-agency ranking: 10
Player who benefited most from draft: DE DeForest Buckner
The Colts lost 15.5 sacks of support for Buckner along the defensive line with the departures of Justin Houston (8.0) and Denico Autry (7.5) during the offseason. The Colts hope first-round pick Kwity Paye will help make up for some of those sacks. Paye, an edge rusher out of Michigan, will have the inside track to become an instant starter. Paye had 11.5 sacks during his college career. Buckner will get even more help at some point once second-round pick Dayo Odeyingbo returns from a torn Achilles. Odeyingbo, an edge rusher who played at Vanderbilt, sustained the injury while working out in January. -- Mike Wells
Indeed, it's all about manufacturing a pass rush for the Colts defensively. If the defense can start getting after the quarterback and forcing some bad decisions and errant throws, it'll pay dividends for Wentz and the offense.
Ballance. Possessing a franchise-caliber QB — the name of the game in the NFL. And elite depth.
Ballard is still working on all three facets and if the GM and head coach Frank Reich are right about Wentz, that's a huge box that the team will finally check after the post-Andrew Luck depredations. For now, Colts fans should take comfort in knowing that ESPN's view of this team is still that of a playoff contender, even with Philip Rivers hanging up his cleats and Wentz taking over.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.