Bleacher Report Identifies One Key 2022 NFL Draft Question For Indianapolis Colts

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One year after seemingly punting on left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Indianapolis Colts find themselves in a similar situation heading into the 2022 off-season, leaving the franchise with one large question to answer in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Though still in the thick of things in terms of a push for the playoffs in the AFC, it’s never too early to look ahead to the off-season and the start of a new team-building cycle for the Indianapolis Colts. 

While Indianapolis will have roughly $57.5 million in cap space to spend in free agency and extensions for players already on the roster, the off-season focus from the Colts’ perspective will undoubtedly be on the 2022 NFL Draft, which is typically how GM Chris Ballard aims to build his teams. 

Knowing that, Ballard and the Colts will have some work to do in the 2022 NFL Draft, especially considering they won’t have a first-round pick due to the trade for Carson Wentz last off-season. 

Without a first-round pick, the Colts will have to nail all of their mid-round picks to make sure that the holes that potentially open up on the roster after the 2021 season (left tackle, defensive end, cornerback, safety) are addressed in the proper fashion, allowing the Colts to remain legitimate Super Bowl contenders moving forward. 

Dec 25, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Eric Fisher (79) blocks Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Left tackle might be the biggest issue for the Colts once again, largely due to the swings and misses by Ballard last off-season with the bargain bin signings of Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport, and the late, cheap signing of veteran Eric Fisher. 

Tevi tore his ACL in the preseason but was largely unplayable before that, while Davenport is a massive liability when on the field. Fisher has been good in the run game, but he just hasn’t found his game in pass protection and has been the weak link of the offensive line in that regard. 

Therefore, according to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Colts’ biggest 2022 draft question revolves around Ballard being able to find a starting-caliber left tackle without a first-round draft pick. 

The question the Colts need to ask is if they can land a long-term starting left tackle in Round 2, even if it requires a trade. Longtime starter Anthony Castonzo retired in the offseason, and Eric Fisher has been average at best.

Fisher has been responsible for eight penalties and six sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Colts won’t have a crack at Neal but might be able to trade up for a prospect like Penning or Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann. Additionally, Ohio State left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and Arizona State left tackle Kellen Diesch project as top-64 prospects, according to the B/R board.

If Indianapolis doesn’t believe that it can land a long-term left tackle by maneuvering from its second-round pick (currently 54th overall), it will have to weigh its free-agent options, including Duane Brown and Fisher. With a little maneuvering, though, Indy should find the right tackle prospect.

While the Colts aren’t picking in the first round — barring a shocking trade up from Ballard — there will be plenty of solid left tackles to grab on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, icncluding names like Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann,  Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Free, and Arizona States’ Kellen Diesch. 

That doesn’t even begin to touch on names like Louisiana’s Max Mitchell, Washington’s Jaxson Kirkland, or Washington State’s Abraham Lucas, all of whom should be available in that second- to third-round window where the Colts will hold one pick each in the second and third rounds, similar to the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars offensive lineman Abraham Lucas (72) reacts to a snap against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After waiting until the sixth round to grab an offensive lineman that they felt comfortable with in Penn State’s Will Fries, it’s highly unlikely Ballard, head coach Frank Reich, and offensive line coaches Chris Strausser and Kevin Mawae wait until near the end of Day 3 to grab a developmental tackle, especially considering the struggles the group dealt with this season with injuries and COVID-related absences. 

Have thoughts on the one big question the Colts have facing them ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel! 

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