Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
It is no secret that the Indianapolis Colts desperately need help at the most important position on the offensive line — left tackle. Following an earlier-than-expected retirement by Anthony Castonzo after the 2021 season, the team found themselves without a starter on the blind side for the first time in a decade. Eric Fisher never regained form in Indianapolis due to an Achilles injury that he rushed back from.
If it is not addressed further in free agency, it looks as though the Colts are going to roll with Matt Pryor at left tackle. Pryor played well in 2021, albeit in limited action, after being acquired from the Eagles last offseason. Regardless of how liked Pryor is in the locker room, he simply doesn’t possess a ceiling high enough to be a long-term option. This is where Tyler Smith comes in.
Smith is a very polarizing player in draft circles, with some evaluators placing a first-round grade on the Tulsa lineman, while others see him as more of a day-two developmental prospect. The truth lies somewhere in between. I see Smith as a perfect fit for the style of play that Frank Reich wants from his linemen. He is a mauler in the run game and possesses surprising lateral agility, which leads me to believe he has franchise left tackle potential. He is a work-in-progress but is good enough right now to be a week one starter for a run-first team.
Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
The team brought back Mo-Alie Cox, and 2021 fourth-round pick Kylen Granson is the only tight end drafted during the Ballard era. It’s possibly, if not likely, that they elect to add another veteran to the position group, rather than another rookie. If they dip into the tight end pool during day-two, Jeremy Ruckert of Ohio State makes all the sense in the world. Ruckert is a lot like the recently retired Jack Doyle.
They both are among the best at the position in blocking, and both are severely underrated when it comes to their pass catching capabilities. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, the former Buckeye is the full package in terms of blocking. He is quite strong and is the type of person that welcomes physicality.
As far as his receiving numbers in college, there isn’t much to speak of. This is because of the wealth of talent that is often on display in Columbus. Look no further than 2021, as Ohio State had Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the field together for a majority of the snaps.
Still, Ruckert was able to post career highs in receptions (26) and receiving yards (309), while chipping in three touchdowns. His elite blocking gives him one of the most stable floors, regardless of position, but the pass catching upside is what makes it worth taking the risk on day-two of the draft.