Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts were looking to fill some key areas.
Specifically, Indy needed someone to pair with T.Y. Hilton at receiver, a solid addition to the run game, depth at offensive tackle, a future quarterback, and serious help on the defensive side of the ball.
The defensive needs were largely addressed in free agency with the signings of DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day, Xavier Rhodes, and T.J. Carrie.
So far in the draft, Indy has also checked the receiver and run game boxes and added some depth to their defensive back room.
Their signings during Day 2 have received high praise from numerous draft gurus throughout the league.
Round 2, 34th Pick Overall, Wide Receiver, Michael Pittman, Jr., USC
— Scorebook Live California (@SBLiveCA) April 24, 2020
Many draft pundits felt that Pittman Jr. was a 3rd round pick at best.
However, he has slowly, but surely, been working his way up the draft board in the minds of some scouts.
Pittman Jr.’s stock had risen to the point that, before Day 2 of the draft began, quite a few television talking heads felt he would be the first receiver off the board.
They were almost right.
Clemson’s Tee Higgins was picked by the Bengals with the 33rd pick of Round 2.
Coming out of high school, Pittman Jr. was a stud with almost 2,000 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.
For his efforts, he garnered the USA Today All-California Offensive Player of the Year nod.
In addition to this honor, he was the 8th ranked receiver coming out of high school and a 4-star recruit.
After choosing USC, he played sparingly his first two years, but continued to improve.
Over the past two seasons, Pittman Jr. made a name for himself with his ability and physicality.
In 2018, he grabbed 41 passes and six touchdowns.
Last season, Pittman Jr. went off with 101 receptions and 11 scores.
His 6’4”, 223 pound frame made him tough to defend and even tougher to corral.
Before the draft, NFL scouts had the following to say about Pittman Jr.
“Big, smart and reliable, Pittman falls into the “possession receiver” bin, but has top-notch ball skills that allow him to bully and best cornerbacks down the field. Improving release quickness against press will be an early focal point in an NFL camp, but his frame and physicality should create work space underneath even with close coverage. He lacks the speed and separation quickness teams covet from WR1 candidates, but he comes from NFL bloodlines and plays with a pro demeanor. He should be a productive plug-and-play talent at WR2 early in his career.”
Pittman Jr. brings a big play threat to Indy and will be a welcome target for new Colts quarterback Phillip Rivers.
Round 2, 41st Pick Overall, Running Back, Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Colts get a workhorse 🐴
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 24, 2020
Originally, the Colts had the 44th pick of the second round.
However, seeing that Taylor was still available, (and not wanting to risk him being picked by someone else) Indy traded spots with the Browns.
In the trade, the Colts received the 41st pick and the Browns got Indy’s 44th pick as well as their 160th pick.
After a stellar high school career that saw him named South New Jersey Offensive Player of the year, Taylor immediately became a force at Wisconsin.
As a freshman in 2017, the 5’10”, 226 pound Taylor bulled and sprinted his way to a jaw dropping 1,977 yards rushing.
That led to a Big 10 Freshman of the Year selection and a Doak Walker Award finalist.
Not to be outdone, as a sophomore, Taylor led the FBS college football division with 2,194 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.
The awards continued piling up: Doak Walker Award winner; unanimous First-team All-American; First-team All-Big Ten.
At that point in his college career, Taylor had the third most rushing yards (two year totals) in NCAA history.
In 2019, he cracked the 2,000 barrier once again with 2,003 yards along with 21 scores.
Taylor again received the Doak Walker Award and picked up AP First-team All-American and Big Ten Running Back of the Year honors.
At the NFL Combine in February, Taylor further wowed the scouts when he blazed to a 4.39 40 yard dash time.
Pro scouts had this to say about Tylor before the draft:
“Supremely productive, well-built runner with an all-day, every-day mentality that helped lead him to three Big Ten rushing titles. Taylor runs with bend and burst as an outside runner and has home-run speed once he gets into the open field. He displays an ability to weave around interior traffic but might have evolved into more of a thinker than reactor inside due to fumbling issues and the litany of loaded fronts he faced. His patience and understanding of the where/when of blocks allowed him to thrive in multiple run schemes. He’s more body puncher than knockout artist, wearing down his opponents with carry after carry. His traits, toughness and talent should make him an early starter with a solid ceiling and more third-down potential than we saw at Wisconsin.”
Round 3, 85th Pick Overall, Safety, Julian Blackmon, Utah
— NFL Draft (@NFLDraft) April 25, 2020
Blackmon ended his high school playing career in Utah as a three star recruit.
He stayed in-state to attend the University of Utah and he thrived.
Blackmon comes to the NFL with four years of college playing experience.
After playing as a reserve in nine games as a freshman in 2016, he was a regular starter for his remaining three years.
Blackmon was consistent as a starter and could be counted on to make big plays.
Over the course of the 2017-2019 seasons, he racked up 117 total tackles, nine picks and two INTs returned for touchdowns.
In ‘19, he also added 1.5 sacks.
At the conclusion of the ‘19 season, Blackmon’s accolades included Second-team AP All-American and First-team All-Pac 12 honors.
The 6’0”, 187 pound Blackmon brings versatility to the Colts as he played both cornerback and safety at Utah.
After February’s combine, NFL scouts said this about Blackmon:
“While Blackmon displayed some inconsistencies in recognition and ball tracking in his first season at safety, the move clearly gives him his best chance to become a pro. The former cornerback has soft hands and carryover route-anticipation that should allow him to match against tight ends as a pro. He can play split safety, big nickel or help support the run as a down safety. His field recognition and angles to the football are still behind from his new position, but he should keep getting better. His December knee injury will push him down the draft board, but he has the traits and talent to make it in the league.”
Blackmon is in a perfect spot as a new addition to the Colts.
Not only will he add depth to the defensive backfield, he will learn from two very solid NFL vets in Rhodes and Carrie.