Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts made Jacob Eason the sixth quarterback drafted in 2020.
That is not a big surprise.
But few fans expected Eason to drop all the way to the fourth round of the NFL´s first virtual draft.
📺: NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/NvVK6pRjmR
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 25, 2020
Jordan Love went off the board in the first round to the Green Bay Packers.
Whether Green Bay blew up the Colts’ initial plan by drafting Love is open for discussion.
But certainly, Ballard would pull the trigger in the second round for the strong-armed Eason.
No one can argue that Michael Pittman fills a dire need as an NFL-ready wide receiver.
But when the Colts uncharacteristically traded up to get ahead of the Jaguars, fans expected a quarterback.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 25, 2020
But Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor became the second draft pick for the Colts.
Jalen Hurts was surprisingly picked up by the Eagles later in the second round.
That pushed Eason and Jake Fromm to the top of Mel Kiper´s “Best Available” list.
But Ballard opted for an injured defensive back (Julian Blackmon) over a passer.
Eason and Fromm were still on the board for Day 3.
And it all worked out just like Chris Ballard probably planned it.
Jacob Eason was an Indianapolis Colt at the 122nd selection.
Eason´s Roller Coaster Ride
To say Jacob Eason´s road to the NFL was a little uneven is an understatement.
Indianapolis´ latest addition won pretty much every possible high school football accolade.
Eason strode onto the field as a true freshman starter at the University of Georgia.
He showed promise, but his performance wasn´t spectacular as the Bulldogs struggled to an 8-5 record.
Indy looking toward the future? 👀
Colts take Washington QB Jacob Eason in the fourth round of the NFL draft pic.twitter.com/NnEK0RiXDI
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 25, 2020
When a knee injury knocked Eason out of the opening week game as a sophomore, his UGA career was over.
Jake Fromm stepped in and led Georgia to the national championship game.
Eason transferred to the University of Washington and sat out his junior year.
In his senior year, he again showed off his arm skills and looked great for stretches.
But Eason lost big games at home to Utah and Oregon on the way to another 8-5 record.
Just asked new Colts QB Jacob Eason about the negative reviews from Chris Mortensen and others. Eason was great, and finished it this way: "They can say all they want. I’m going to go in there and prove them wrong."
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) April 25, 2020
If he thought about returning for another college season, a coaching change at WU helped push him toward the draft.
Eason´s NFL Combine drew mixed reviews and Washington´s Pro Day was canceled.
Questions about his work ethic and other character issues cropped up as teams looked into Eason´s record.
That probably led to his fourth-round tumble as much as anything else.
Why Eason Makes Sense for the Indianapolis Colts
Jacob Eason has some of the raw traits that make people say “quarterback” at first glance.
He has good size at 6´3″ and 231 pounds.
His arm is as strong as anybody else´s.
We're building something special in Indy this year. You ready @Colts? 🔥 For a preview of the future check out my #PaniniInstant trading card here https://t.co/gcfjcobK7v #NFLDraft #WhoDoYouCollect pic.twitter.com/6u7YIyE6EX
— Jacob Eason (@skinnyqb10) April 25, 2020
But there are some things he´ll need to work on before he starts in the NFL.
With Phillip Rivers signed for this season and hoping for a second, Eason can be developed carefully.
Physically, Eason needs to work on his lower body skills.
It is not a question of happy feet as much as it is balance and timing that leads to off-kilter throws.
Likewise, he locks onto receivers and makes forced throws or late scrambles when they don´t uncover.
New #Colts QB Jacob Eason has the best arm in the 2020 draft class. Some of these throws Eason can pull off are ridiculous.
Going to Frank Reich school for two years to sit behind Philip Rivers could be exactly what's needed for Eason to reach his sky-high ceiling. pic.twitter.com/g7fC6kJcyf
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) April 25, 2020
Eason also needs to develop a better Spidey-sense in the pocket.
He has been early and late when it comes to moving away from the rush.
Whether these are coachable things or not is to be determined.
But if you´re going to learn how to play quarterback, Phillip Rivers and Frank Reich are as good a combination as you can get.
Unless someone makes an offer for Jacoby Brissett that Chris Ballard can´t refuse,
It is reasonable to expect that Eason will be inactive all season and step into the backup role next year.
And then… just like Chris Ballard plans it.