The Indianapolis Colts filled a couple of huge needs this offseason. Their quarterback situation was their first worry, and they were able to move on from Carson Wentz and get Matt Ryan into the mix. Then, the team was able to find a pass rusher, something they have struggled to do for years.
However, in their acquisition of Yannick Ngakoue, they lost a cornerback in Rock Ya-Sin. Xavier Rhodes is currently a free agent as well, which means the two players who started for the Colts the most are now outside the roster. The Colts added Stephon Gilmore, but that is just one of potentially two new starters.
Beyond that, the team is moving from Matt Eberflus to Gus Bradley. It means a different style of defense as well, so it is be the right time to reset the cornerback room.
Who are three cornerbacks that the Colts could draft in 2022?
3. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Tariq Woolen is what Gus Bradly looks for in cornerbacks. From the Seahawks, to the Jaguars, to the Chargers, Raiders, and now with the Colts, we are going to see the same thing that he looks for in cornerbacks.
He wants his cornerbacks to be long, fast, and strong. He wants them to extend and jam at the line then bail out into a cover-3 look. The prototype is what Woolen fits.
Woolen stands at 6’4″ and over 200 pounds. Both are well above average for cornerbacks, and so is his length, which rated in the 97th percentile. Woolen is not only tall, strong, and long, he also has track speed, running a 40-yard dash at 4.26. You read that right.
He is raw, and that will have him fall into the round two or three range. However, Bradley is known for plugging in raw corners with traits and getting big time success, so you know he is drooling over this one.
2. Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri
Akayleb Evans is another cornerback who fits the theme that Woolen does. Evans is long and fast, as he stands over 6’2″ with arm length in the 72nd percentile. He is not quite Woolen in speed, but at a 4.46 he can handle what Bradley is asking his corners to do.
Evans spent four years as a starter for Tulsa, but was not creating a buzz, so he used the extra given to him from the pandemic to transfer to Missouri and test himself against the SEC. Obviously, it was a step up but Evans handled himself well and was the top corner for the Tigers.
Woolen may go a round or two higher than Evans, who is slated to go more in the round four range. Still, this allows the Colts to hit other positions and still find a potential starter at cornerback in Akayleb Evans.
1. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
Another SEC cornerback who is flying under the radar is Martin Emerson. If you read the last two players you know why Emerson is a fit for the Colts. He stands at 6’1″, and he has 97th percentile arm length. You know that Bradley can work with this. Beyond that, he is a multi-year starter in the SEC.
The good news for the Colts is that Emerson is a zone cornerback who does not quite have the change of direction to stick to players in man. He also does not have elite ball production. This works to the Colts’ favor because the traits that other teams value will push him down, but the traits that they value he checks in spades.
Emerson is only 21 and has been starting in the SEC for three years. The team passing him on because of the role that they are drilling him into may be disappointed to see the Colts find a value because he is the perfect scheme fit for them.
If Bradley is going to rebuild the cornerback room, then he is going to look for speed and length. Emerson, Woolen, and Evans check the boxes for what he would typically draft from his cornerbacks, and depending on when the team dips into the cornerback market, they could have a shot at any of these options.