5 Bold Predictions for Colts 2024 NFL Draft Class

5 Bold Predictions for Colts 2024 NFL Draft Class

The Indianapolis Colts used the 2024 NFL Draft to address several roster needs while adding impactful young talent. By the end of the three-day draft, Indy had nine new players who each had a path to helping the future success of the Colts franchise.

With this in mind, it’s time to look into some way-too-early predictions for this Colts draft class as the 2024 off-season is in full swing. Here are five that could go down, in order of when the player was picked.

UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) battles against the San Diego State Aztecs.

UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) battles against the San Diego State Aztecs. / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Laiatu Latu selection was a steal at the 15th overall spot. Indianapolis can now add Latu to a fantastic defensive front that includes DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Kwity Paye, Samson Ebukam, and Tyquan Lewis.

After wrecking opponents at UCLA in 2022 and 2023, it’s hard to imagine Latu not breaking out as a rookie with the talented Colts defensive front around him. With Charlie Partridge at the helm, I like Latu’s chances of being a menace to offensive lines.

I’m predicting 11.5 sacks and 53 QB pressures through 16-17 games played. It’s a high mark to set, but Latu is one of the most polished pass rushers in recent drafts and accumulated 62 pressures, 36 hurries, and constant disruptions for UCLA in 2023, per Pro Football Focus. This ceiling of potential, paired with who is around him, could also get Latu the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) catches a touchdown against the Washington Huskies.

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) catches a touchdown against the Washington Huskies. / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

There were two Texas Longhorn wide receivers realistically on Indy’s draft board, Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell. While Worthy seemed a more experienced and explosive fit for Shane Steichen’s offensive goals, Mitchell has better size, hands, and route-running. There’s also the chance his ceiling is higher than Worthy’s at the NFL level.

Mitchell has one notable collegiate season, 2023 with 55 catches for 845 yards (15.4 per catch), and 11 touchdowns. Despite the lack of experience, Mitchell is only 20 years old and still has great route-running to help him get open with Anthony Richardson as the passer. 

Mitchell will ultimately start 2024 behind Alec Pierce but eventually should take the WR3 role. Look for Mitchell to continue showcasing great route-running and hands while improving with the Colts offense and learning from one of the greats, Reggie Wayne. I’m projecting Mitchell to receive 88 targets and snag 64 catches (72.7% catch rate). Along with the receptions, Mitchell will make some big plays and post 885 receiving yards 13.8 per catch) and six touchdowns. 

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Pittsburgh Panthers offensive lineman Matt Goncalves (76) blocks against the Duke Blue Devils.

Pittsburgh Panthers offensive lineman Matt Goncalves (76) blocks against the Duke Blue Devils. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to the Latu selection, many figured Indianapolis would use round three for a cornerback, safety, or another playmaker. However, they traded up in round three with the Arizona Cardinals to select Pittsburgh Panthers offensive tackle Matt Goncalves

The versatile protector only played three games in 2023 due to a toe injury, but Indy felt the woes were in Goncalves’ past, betting on the incredible upside of the former Panther

Goncalves has the talent to move inside at guard and help the Colts in multiple spots on the offensive line. With the talent and contract of left guard Quenton Nelson, the opportunity for Goncalves will be with Will Fries on the right. 

Fries had a decent 2023 but is also playing around Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent. With how expensive the veterans are on the line, Indy likely won’t want to pay Fries, opening the door long-term (and short) for Goncalves. 

Given the pass-protecting abilities of Goncalves and his overall skillset, I can envision him beating out Fries at some point for the starting position. It’s difficult to detail which game or scenario, but the current situation with upcoming contracts points to a big opportunity for Goncalves to live up to the third-round selection.

Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs with the ball against the Stanford Cardinal.

Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs with the ball against the Stanford Cardinal. / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts selected their second receiver in round five (pick 142) by adding Oregon State’s Anthony Gould to the ranks. However, this selection is more to address the new kickoff rules, which have increased the importance of having a reliable returner. This is where the Gould pick will show fantastic value. 

Similar to former Colts receiver Isaiah McKenzie, Gould is around 5’8” and 170 pounds and has allure as a gadget player and returner. Look for Gould to get a big chance to show his value as a kick/punt returner, getting him involved in the gameplan sooner. As a Beaver for four years, Gould returned 26 punts for 423 yards (16.3 per return) and two scores. While Gould only saw one kick return, that won’t keep Indianapolis special teams coach Brian Mason from using him as a returner for both kicks. 

With Gould’s 4.39-second speed and ability to make tacklers miss, I can envision him starting as the main returner and getting two, or more, kick/punt return touchdowns. The Colts haven’t had a deadly return option since Nyheim Hines; they have the opportunity to change that designation with Gould.

A pass to Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy (15) falls incomplete while he is covered by Missouri Tigers safety Jaylon Carlies (1).

A pass to Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy (15) falls incomplete while he is covered by Missouri Tigers safety Jaylon Carlies (1). / Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

Indianapolis continued addressing depth by selecting cover linebacker and former safety Jaylon Carlies in round five. While Carlies was slotted as a safety in Missouri, he will be converted to linebacker for Indianapolis. While Carlies has an undersized physique for a typical linebacker (6’2” and 225 pounds), so did former Colts linebacker and current assistant, Cato June. 

June, who many believe Carlies is similar to, was a phenomenal cover linebacker for Indianapolis after being converted from safety. From 2003-2006, June grabbed 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended. He also had five picks with two defensive touchdowns in 2005, which notched June his only Pro Bowl. If Carlies can turn out to play like June did for Indy, the Colts are getting an incredible asset at linebacker. 

If it all works out with Carlies joining E.J. Speed and Zaire Franklin, I can see turnovers being forced by Carlies. My prediction is Carlies will see sub packages, but should get around 50+ tackles and some good stops in run defense. However, I project he will get four interceptions as a rookie linebacker in 2024. This will remind Colts fans of June’s days in Indy and showcase Carlies’ talents as an asset in Gus Bradley’s scheme. 

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