The Indianapolis Colts might have had to part ways with some draft capital in both this year’s draft and the next in order to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles, but that doesn’t mean that Chris Ballard and Frank Reich are totally bereft of ways to improve this team.
The Colts potentially solved their quarterback questions, but this team is still in need of playmakers at wide receiver as well as some help in the secondary and in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
So where will they look?
Ohio State’s dominance can make it easy to forget that the Big Ten is routinely one of the deepest conferences in college football.
If the Colts need some muscle on the interior and some speed on the perimeter, why not stay local and look to the country’s heartland for some studs that can contribute as rookies?
If the Colts, who play in the home of the Big Ten Championship, wanted to, they could plug up almost all of their holes by drafting players exclusively from that conference.
This Colts mock draft brings six Big Ten players to Indianapolis.
Rashod Bateman #0 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Round 1: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
While playing for a disappointing Minnesota team helped drive down stock while flashier SEC receivers like Terrance Marshall leapfrogged him in the eyes of some, he’s worth a first-round pick. With Indianapolis potentially losing TY Hilton and Zach Pascal in free agency, Bateman makes a ton of sense.
Bateman averaged just under 100 yards per game as the featured target with the Gophers last year, a testament to the 6-2, 210-pound receiver’s ability to both blow by cornerbacks and use his frame to haul in some tough passes.
Bateman could be an instant starter for the Colts.
Bateman’s best trait, which should get Reich very interested in him, is his route-running. He effortlessly gets separation at the line of scrimmage and maintains his speed at the stem of his route. A big-play threat and potential slot star, Bateman should be able to handle a steady workload as a rookie.
Imagine a three-wide receiver set in which Bateman uses his speed to go over the top, Michael Pittman Jr. relies on his 6-4 frame to secure contested catches over the middle, and Parris Campbell utilizes his electric running style to break off big plays on screens. If Ballard wises up and takes Bateman, that dream could become a reality.