With new Colts’ General Manager Chris Ballard’s first season over, now seems to be a good time to reflect. Ballard’s first offseason was seen as a success for the most part leading into the season. The draft, especially, seemed like a home run hit. After a disappointing 4-12 season, where do these rookies fall now? Let’s take a look back at the 2017 NFL draft, and how the Colts did with offensive players. I’ll include my grade at the time of the draft.
(The Colts only drafted two offensive players, so I will take a look at some undrafted rookies who have made an impact as well.)
Round Four, Pick 137: Zach Banner, T, USC
Initial Draft Grade: C
Current Grade: F
The Colts used the first of two fourth round picks on the 6’9 behemoth from USC, Zach Banner. The Colts’ offensive line has been a problem for as long as anyone can remember, and Chris Ballard certainly knew this. Despite some good early round picks, I believe the Colts waited too long to address the trenches. Banner was a very, very raw prospect, but could potentially become a decent run blocker with some work given his frame. Despite his potential, this was not to be.
Banner played poorly in OTAs and training camp; he was outperformed by the likes of Le’Raven Clark and Deyshawn Bond. Banner was cut by the Colts before the season, and is currently a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Round Four, Pick 143: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
Initial Draft Grade: B
Current Grade: A
Unlike the player drafted before him, Marlon Mack achieved immediate success with the Colts. Drafted five picks after Banner, Mack was seen as a pretty good value pick at the time. The speedster had an illustrious career at USF, totaling 3,609 rush yards and 32 touchdowns, along with 4,107 receiving yards. Marlon Mack, though, was and is more than just a scat back. Mack made a huge impact on the Colts’ offense this season. Mack racked up 583 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns on a limited amount of touches.
Marlon Mack, along with being very productive, is a human highlight reel.
It started with electrifying jukes (skip to 0:20):
— PirateLife Football (@PirateLifeFF) August 29, 2017
Then went to game winning scampers (skip to 1:04):
9 rushes, 91 yds, TD
1 tgt, 1 catch, 2 yds pic.twitter.com/YzFbxVw0g9
— PirateLife Football (@PirateLifeFF) October 12, 2017
And ended with bone crushing stiff arms.
Marlon Mack just did Jadeveon Clowny dirty with a savage stiff arm pic.twitter.com/jVF26FKV03
— Matt Franciscovich (@MattFranchise) December 31, 2017
With a great head coach and offensive coordinator commanding the offense next season, the sky is the limit for Marlon Mack.
The Colts signed 18 undrafted free agents following the draft, and only one made a significant impact this season. Some offensive UDFAs who played this season but did not make a significant impact include: Darrell Daniels, Deyshawn Bond, Ross Travis, and Jason Vander Laan.
Rigoberto Sanchez, P, Hawaii
Coming as an undrafted rookie and being asked to start is hard enough. Replacing arguably the best player at your position, seems even more difficult. Replacing him and playing well, seems impossible. This is the story of Rigoberto Sanchez.
The Colts signed Sanchez to make up for the absence of All Pro punter Pat McAfee, who unexpectedly retired last offseason. Sanchez came in, won the starting job, and ended up having a really solid year. As he develops, Sanchez should only improve, and be the Colts’ punter for many years to come.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, and the AFC South Division Editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.