Colts add speed, versatility in fifth round

Apr. 27—INDIANAPOLIS — It's the kind of viral highlight every all-star game participant hopes to produce.

Lined up at his own 20-yard line, Oregon State wide receiver Anthony Gould caught the punt in stride during January's East-West Shrine Bowl.

An initial burst of speed built momentum, then Gould made a slight shift with his body to slip through a seam, and it was over.

He ran to the sideline and past the entire defense for a touchdown that confirmed his own thoughts each time he goes to back to return a kick.

"That's the mentality I have is every time I'm back here, I'm gonna score," Gould said Saturday after being selected with the 142nd overall pick, the first of three fifth-round selections for the Indianapolis Colts.

Gould averaged 16.1 yards on seven punt returns as a senior last season, and he led the Football Bowl Subdivision with two punt returns for touchdowns in 2022.

Special teams figure to be where his most immediate impact will come in the NFL, but he also caught 84 career passes for 1,360 yards and six touchdowns. And he's quick to point out he's bringing more than one skill to the pro game.

"I think (kick return is) definitely a part of my game, but I definitely think it's more than just the return part," Gould said. "I think I solidified that I can play wide receiver at a high level throughout this process. I'm excited to get there. Whatever my role is from Day 1 — special teams, obviously — I'm excited to get up to Indy and get ready to compete."

The Colts followed up the selection of Gould by taking Missouri safety Jaylon Carlies with the 151st pick and then traded down to 164 to pick Auburn safety Jaylin Simpson.

Carlies could move to linebacker in the NFL, playing a similar dime package role to Ronnie Harrison in 2023.

"I'm comfortable playing either spot, and I feel like that's another reason why they took that chance with me as well, just knowing I'm somebody who will be able to be comfortable showing my versatility playing linebacker as well," Carlies said.

Carlies made 12 starts and recorded 64 tackles, 4,5 tackles for loss, two sacks, six pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for the Tigers in 2023.

His strength as a linebacker is in pass coverage, and he said he can cover everyone from wideouts to running backs.

Carlies studied pros like Kyle Hamilton and Derwin James — safeties who are productive closer to the line of scrimmage — and believes the defense at Missouri helped prepare him for the NFL.

"I feel like, with the scheme that we played in these last two years at Mizzou, (it) really helped me and opened me up, just showing that I can be more down in the box and have a box role and also being able to play post when I need to as well," Carlies said. "So I feel like the scheme that we ran allowed me to open up and show that I can play more than just one position."

Simpson also has position flexibility. The Colts listed him as a cornerback on the official draft bio sheet, but he was adamant he'll play wherever he's asked.

"The last conversation I had with (defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) was awhile ago," Simpson said. "It was right after the (NFL Scouting) Combine, but they really like me at the free (safety) spot. They like my range, athleticism. So that's really what I remember. But whatever they need me to do, I will do it, and I will be productive at it."

Simpson played both corner and safety at Auburn and recorded 116 tackles, four tackles for loss, 21 pass breakups and seven interceptions.

Simpson will let positional decisions wait. On Saturday, he let emotion rule the day.

"I had no doubts, but the emotions are everywhere right now and I'm blessed and thankful," he said. "Being away from the game for a little bit, I'm just ready to get to work and just to continue to show why I feel like I was one of the best in this draft. So I've got a lot to prove still, so just ready to get to work in Indy."