Chris Ballard doesn’t go out of his way to add Big Ten players, but it’s impossible to ignore that 11 of his 45 draft picks in his Colts tenure have come from that conference. Safety Khari Willis (Michigan State), defensive end Kwity Paye (Michigan), and running back Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) are just a few that fit the bill. Let’s add another one here with Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert.
Ruckert’s play style is cut from the same cloth as the recently retired Jack Doyle. Ruckert can step in day one and the team will not miss a beat when it comes to blocking. The former Buckeye is arguably the best in the class at creating space for ball carriers. Due to the insane amount of talent at wide receiver during his time with Ohio State, he never put up gaudy statistics. He was a consistent red zone threat though, with 12 of his 54 career receptions resulting in a touchdown. Ruckert is very athletic for his size and his best days as a pass catcher are still in front of him.
It is no guarantee that the longest tenured Colt, Hilton, returns in 2022. Even if he does, Danny Gray is a great fit for Frank Reich’s scheme. The former SMU standout posted a stat line of 49 catches, 803 yards, and nine touchdowns in only ten games as a senior. He caught the eye of Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy, resulting in an invite to Mobile. Gray made the most of this opportunity.
During practice, the former state champion track runner recorded the fastest top speed (22.01 mph) of any offensive player at the Senior Bowl. Along with showcasing his sprinter speed, Gray showed vast improvement in the route running drills. The speed traveled with him to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, resulting in a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash. He’s a perfect Hilton replacement, but even if TY is re-signed it would behoove the team to bring in a guy that can be mentored by the Indianapolis Colts legend.