Colts Ranked Among Best Drafting NFL Teams Over Last Five Years

Chris Ballard

Getty The Indianapolis Colts have been one of the best drafting teams in the NFL under general manager Chris Ballard.

Although the Los Angeles Rams are a big exception, the NFL Draft is still often regarded as the best way to build a Super Bowl contender. That’s good news for the Indianapolis Colts, as their organization has been one of the best drafting teams in the league recently.

In fact, New York Jets beat writer Brian Costello of The New York Post regards the Colts as the very best drafting team since 2017.

Costello ranked all 32 teams based on their draft success from 2017-21. The Jets beat writer ranked Indianapolis at the very top of the list at No. 1.

“GM Chris Ballard has done a tremendous job building up the Colts roster,” Costello wrote. “They have had seven first-team All-Pro selections among the players drafted in this time frame. Quenton Nelson, Leonard and Jonathan Taylor are all great picks.

“Now, Ballard just has to figure out the quarterback.”

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Colts Draft Success Under General Manager Chris Ballard

Indianapolis hired Ballard as general manager in January 2017. Entering his sixth draft with the Colts, Ballard’s tenure exactly coincides with Costello’s five-year window of NFL Draft analysis.

Costello wrote that his rankings were based on numerous items including number of games played, Pro Bowl Appearances, first-team All-Pro selections and awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc) from drafted players.

The Colts have selected three Pro Bowl players since 2017 — Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Jonathan Taylor. As Costello noted, all three have been named first-team All-Pro at least once too.

Nelson and Leonard have been named first-team All Pro three times. Taylor earned his first All-Pro nomination in 2021.

Costello could have named any of those players Indianapolis’ best pick over the last five years. He selected Leonard, who the Colts drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, for the honor.

Ballard has done an excellent job of selecting players in the second round.


Chris Ballard’s Second-Round Success in NFL Draft

Costello also named a worst pick for every team from 2017-21. For the Colts, he picked 2017 second-round cornerback Quincy Wilson.

But over the last four years, Ballard has selected five players in the second round that eventually became starters. Four of those players remain on the Colts roster and help make up the core of the team — Leonard, Taylor, right tackle Braden Smith and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

The fifth player was cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who started 29 games for the Colts from 2019-21 before getting traded to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

With Ya-Sin, wide receiver Parris Campbell was also a second-round choice in 2019. Campbell has dealt with injuries, but the Colts are still hoping he develops into a solid contributor.

Of course, the fact Ballard has made 11 selections in the second round over the last five years has helped his overall Day 2 success.

After the second round since 2017, the Colts have made smart choices in linebacker Bobby Okereke in the third round and safety Khari Willis in the fourth round. Indianapolis also picked running back Nyheim Hines in the fourth round.

At the end of his list, Costello ranked the top five drafts and best three individual draft picks since 2017. He rated the Colts’ 2018 draft, which included Nelson, Leonard, Smith and Hines, the second-best class from any team.

He also ranked Leonard the second-best player selection of the last five years behind only 2021 Defensive Player of the Year winner T.J. Watt. The Pittsburgh Steelers picked Watt at No. 30 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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