INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts found some new playmakers in this year’s draft.
They may have picked up their quarterback of the future, too.
General manager Chris Ballard stuck to the game plan, using four of his first five picks on offensive players. He took a big receiver, Michael Pittman Jr., and a powerful running back, Jonathan Taylor, in the second round before adding strong-armed quarterback Jacob Eason in the fourth round Saturday.
Ballard made one thing clear: He would not reach for a long-term successor to Andrew Luck.
“Look, we spent all this time lining the board up and we don’t force it,” Ballard said Saturday. “We put these guys at the right spot for our team and Jacob was there. That’s why we took him.”
Eason fell to the Colts at No. 122 overall. Next season’s expectations will be low. He’ll spend time learning the playbook, developing relationships with new teammates and serving as understudy to Philip Rivers and backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
But after starting Saturday with three quarterbacks on the roster and none signed beyond 2020, Ballard thought Eason was worth a gamble — even as critics debated Eason’s work ethic and accountability.
“My job is to go in there, prove those stories are false and go in there and learn from a great coaching staff and get in there with an outstanding team,” he said. “I’m going to go in there and prove myself as a workhorse and a leader and a good football player. They can say all they want but the truth of the matter is I’m going to go in there and prove them wrong.”
Ballard moved quickly to find offensive weapons.
With no first-round pick, Ballard used the No. 34 selection on the 6-foot-4 Pittman, whose father won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, and traded up to No. 41 to get the record-breaking Taylor.
Pittman gives the Colts the big receiver they wanted playing opposite Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton and with speedy Parris Campbell. Pittman was one of four FBS players to catch more than 100 passes last season and was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.
Taylor is the only FBS player to top the 6,000-yard mark in three seasons and the only one with 12 200-yard games. He also won the Doak Walker Award in 2018 and 2019.
The Colts added another big receiver, Dezmon Patmon of Washington State, in the sixth round.
The Colts also added depth along the offensive line with the selection of Danny Pinter in the fifth round.
He played tight end until two years ago at nearby Ball State before moving to tackle. He even caught a TD pass. And now he’ll chase his lifelong dream likely playing guard or center with his home-state team.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, I have played football here my whole life,” Pinter said. “To have the opportunity to stay here and stay around a bunch of people who helped me get to this point is really, I can’t put it into words.”
When Ballard wasn’t chasing offensive players, he worked on the secondary.
He took safety Julian Blackmon of Utah in the third round and added linebacker Jordan Glasgow of Michigan in the sixth. Ballard also traded cornerback Quincy Wilson to the New York Jets and used that sixth-rounder on cornerback Isaiah Rodgers of Massachusetts.
At 6-1, 226 pounds, Glasgow could become a hybrid safety for the Colts. For now, though, the Colts will keep him at linebacker and hope he can excel on special teams.
Meanwhile, Blackmon will continue recovering after tearing an ACL during the Pac-12 title game.
“I had a lot of contact with the coaches,” Blackmon said. “They told me, ‘Hey, don’t be surprised if we pick you earlier than what people expect. We don’t care that you’re hurt.’ And here I am, a Colt.”
Ballard knows just how crazy the scramble for undrafted rookies is in a normal year. This year is different.
“It’s fun, but it’s always a circus,” Ballard said. “I actually told our guys I think it’s got a chance to be better because we’re all on this Zoom call and we’re all going to be right in front of each other. Usually what happens at the office is everybody gets spread out, we’re looking for coaches, you’re recruiting players, but we’re all going to be in one spot.”