INDIANAPOLIS — Delighted to be trading again with two more moves that brought two additional players, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard boosted his 2020 NFL draft haul to nine prospects.
Six of them arrived on Saturday in rounds four through seven, including three in a row at the end of round six. This activity comes after a Friday in which Ballard traded up and down. He’s traded down in each of his four drafts and it would be an understatement to suggest he’s always considering something.
But the inevitable buzz this third draft day will focus on one Saturday selection — the fourth-round choice of Washington quarterback Jacob Eason with the 122nd overall pick.
Reaction was immediate and mixed.
Welcome to Eason’s world. The 6-6, 227-pound passer has been praised for his NFL-ready size and arm strength. He’s been criticized for intangibles including work ethic.
And because quarterback is the NFL’s most important position, the story will have shelf life. How much depends upon Eason. And that’s an assessment sure to be repeated as Eason tries to evolve. How much he makes of this chance depends upon him.
That’s evidently why a prospect projected by many for the second round fell all the way to the fourth. And that’s also why, after Colts general manager Chris Ballard insisted before the draft that he wouldn’t reach for a quarterback, he took a low-risk, high-reward chance.
Ballard didn’t have to reach. Eason practically fell into the GM’s lap.
Eason will become the only Colts quarterback signed beyond 2020, but whether he amounts to anything in Indy will depend upon how he learns from 38-year-old passer Philip Rivers and, if the backup sticks around, Jacoby Brissett.
If Eason pans out, Ballard is a genius. If Eason doesn’t make it, Ballard can say he took a fourth-round flyer on a guy that had red flags concerning such noteworthy characteristics as desire.
But, alas, Saturday wasn’t all about Eason. The Colts chose Ball State offensive lineman Danny Pinter in the fifth round (149th overall). He played tackle for the Cardinals, but will move inside to guard as a pro. That he has the position flexibility fits the Colts’ needs for O-line depth.
Then Ballard and his staff started working the phones again to swap one sixth-round selection for two late in the round. The Colts sent the New England Patriots the 182nd overall choice acquired on Friday in a trade down with Detroit in exchange for back-to-back picks at Nos. 212 and 213.
But that wasn’t it. Another deal sent cornerback Quincy Wilson to the N.Y. Jets for pick No. 211, so just like that the Colts were on the clock for three consecutive selections in the sixth round.
The Colts still had a sixth-round pick at No. 193 and chose Penn State defensive tackle Robert Windsor to bolster D-line depth. Scouts had to like the undersized Windsor’s relentless motor, and he’s an effective pass rusher who uses his hands well to win one-on-one battles. But he’ll probably need to add some strength and size to his 6-4, 290-pound frame if he sticks on the initial roster.
When it came time to pick three in a row, the Colts added Massachusetts cornerback/returner Isaiah Rodgers at 211, Washington State wide receiver Dezmon Patmon at 212 and Michigan LB/S Jordan Glasgow at No. 213.
Rodgers is intriguing. His older cousin is 12-year NFL cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who has played for six teams. Rodgers wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but has been working out with Rodgers to prepare. One thing they have in common — both have run 4.28-second 40-yard dashes.
His ability to make plays on special teams, which includes as a gunner in coverage, will determine if he earns a roster spot.
Patmon, at 6-4 and 225, fits in with the Colts wanting to add size at wide receiver. The Colts used their first pick in this draft, in the second round at No. 34 overall, on 6-4, 223-pound USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. The difference with Patmon is he needs to develop some of the toughness and ball skills that Pittman has displayed. He also has to work on concentration drops.
Glasgow, at 6-1 and 226, played linebacker for the Wolverines but doesn’t have the size to play there in the NFL. He also lacks range to play safety. What he does bring is “boundless energy and fearless nature,” according to NFL.com, which describes him further as a “card-carrying special teams ace.”