Colts lead with defense in mock draft

Apr. 24—This is my one and only mock draft of the season. I used an online simulator and only made picks for Indianapolis.

Without further ado, here are the results:

Round 1, No. 15 overall — Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

First off, the mock draft simulator I used had Washington receiver Rome Odunze still on the board at this spot. If that happens in real life, Chris Ballard will sprint the card to the podium in Detroit personally. From the west side of Indianapolis.

Suffice it to say, I did not find that a realistic possibility. With Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner off the board, I went with a pick that checks nearly every box on Ballard's BINGO card.

Mitchell has size (6-foot, 195 pounds with 31-inch arms) and speed (4.33-second 40-yard dash). He comes from a small school with a chip on his shoulder, and he was a standout at the Senior Bowl.

It's more than possible the Colts could move up for Bowers or Turner, and they certainly could move down and select someone from a deep wide receiver class. But my gut tells me, if things play out this way on draft day, Mitchell is the pick.

Round 2, No. 46 overall — Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

The 6-1, 221-pound Legette ran the 40 at 4.39 seconds during the NFL Scouting Combine. He also ranked eighth in major college football last season with 1,255 receiving yards while leading the Gamecocks with 71 receptions.

Legette wins jump balls with his combo of size and strength, and his speed makes him a legitimate deep threat. And in a willingness to block in the run game, and it's not hard to see how he might appeal to Ballard in the second round.

Round 3, No. 82 overall — Javon Bullard, S, Georgia

Bullard started 27 games over the past two seasons for the Bulldogs. He has versatility as a nickel corner (where he played primarily at Georgia) and at safety, where his best fit would come in Indianapolis.

Despite missing two games with an ankle injury, he racked up 56 tackles and two interceptions last year as a junior.

He's smart with good instincts and is unafraid of physicality. It also doesn't hurt Ballard praised Georgia defenders as a whole during his pre-draft news conference last week.

Round 4, No. 117 overall — Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State

Stover played defensive end and linebacker for the Buckeyes before settling in at tight end as a redshirt sophomore in 2021. He was honorable mention All-Big Ten a year later and was a finalist for the John Mackey Award as the nation's best at the position last season.

His upside includes good athleticism (he played basketball in high school) and a willingness to get physical after the catch.

Despite the uncharacteristic struggles of the Ohio State passing game in 2023, Stover caught 41 passes for 576 yards and five touchdowns.

Round 5, No. 151 overall — Jalyx Hunt, Edge, Houston Christian

A converted safety, Hunt's speed (4.64 40) is not in question. But the 6-4, 252-pounder needs time to develop as a run defender.

The Colts — who have Samson Ebukam, Kwity Paye, Dayo Odeyingbo and Tyquan Lewis at the top of the depth chart — can provide him that time.

Ballard's proven he's not afraid of small-school prospects and betting on athletic upside.

Round 6, No. 191 overall — Marist Liufau, LB, Notre Dame

The first words in many Liufau scouting reports include high energy, high IQ and high field awareness. There are far worse risks to take when looking at a late-round pick who could contribute on special teams and as a nickel linebacker.

And it's a combo that's hit for Indianapolis in the past.

Round 7, No. 234 overall — Charles Turner III, C, LSU

This pick is based on one trait: Tenacity.

LSU's offensive line was known for its physicality last season, and Turner was no exception despite being undersized at 6-4 and 303 pounds.

He'll need work on his technique, but that comes with the territory at the end of the draft.