There are always those people in school who do the least amount of work in group projects and still get an A. That’s essentially what the Indianapolis Colts did during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Indy didn’t have a first-round pick due to last year’s trade for Carson Wentz. However, the team still came out as one of the biggest winners of the night.
Why? It no longer has to gameplan for wide receiver A.J. Brown, whom the Tennessee Titans sent to the Philadelphia Eagles on draft night.
The Tennessee Titans took a major step backward during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft
One of the main reasons the Titans have been so dangerous throughout the last few years is that they have had elite weapons in the running and passing games. They have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Derrick Henry, and had a Pro Bowl wide receiver in A.J. Brown.
But after apparently not agreeing to a new deal with Brown, the Titans traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles on draft night. Philly parted with the 18th and 101st picks and will sign the Ole Miss product to an extension.
Tennessee then used the 18th selection to grab his potential replacement, former Arkansas pass-catcher Treylon Burks.
Burks is a talented player, but Brown is a proven commodity and has become one of the best receivers in the NFL. He has caught 185 passes for 2,995 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches during the first three seasons of his career. Losing him immediately weakens Tennessee and helps the team’s AFC South rival, the Colts.
The Colts saw their chances of winning the AFC South strengthen
The Titans have won their division each of the last two years, but the Colts have been right behind them. Both teams finished 11-5 in 2020, but Tennessee won the title due to a tiebreaker. Indianapolis then finished second behind the Titans again in 2021.
However, the Colts have gotten stronger this offseason. They traded away quarterback Carson Wentz and acquired 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. Indy also added Yannick Ngakoue and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to its already talented defense.
Those additions, combined with the Titans losing Brown, have put Indianapolis in a tremendous position to win the AFC South. Brown not only helped Tennessee win a lot of games during his tenure there, but he was a matchup nightmare for the Colts. During a 2020 meeting in Indy, Brown had four catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. He then had 10 receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown during the 2021 contest in Indianapolis.
Brown was a difference-maker in two key wins the last two years. Without having to gameplan for him, the Colts will have a much easier time trying to beat the Titans.
So, is Indianapolis the definitive favorite to win the AFC South now? Not exactly. That will depend on what happens the rest of the draft. But Indy’s chances are certainly better now than they were just a few days ago.
They may not have had a pick during the first night of the draft, but the Colts certainly won.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference