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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Grading every rookie from Colts’ 2022 draft class

The 2022 season has come and gone, which means we got a strong look at the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie draft class.

Grading a rookie based on his first season is a bit ridiculous. While some rookies make the transition look easy, it is anything but. There are several factors both on and off the field that impact a player’s performance during his rookie season.

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We should also remember that these players, for the most part, are still extremely young. They are still growing up and learning how to deal with the delicate balance of professional sports and life outside of football.

So these grades aren’t concrete, and they certainly can change even as soon as the end of the 2023 season. Think of this more as a review of their rookie campaign with some insight into how they impacted the Colts during their first season.

Here’s a look at the grades for the Colts’ 2022 rookie draft class:

WR Alec Pierce

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Selection: Second round (No. 53 overall)
Grade: B-

It’s difficult to truly grade the offensive players considering how poorly the entire unit played in 2022. But for Pierce, we saw glimpses of what could be. The rookie wideout proved he can be a vertical threat when given the opportunity, and he put his contested catch ability on full display. Pierce recorded 41 receptions on 72 targets for 593 yards and two touchdowns. He still needs to improve some of the nuances of route running while continuing to improve his play against press coverage. But it was an encouraging rookie campaign for Pierce, who will certainly be in the future plans as the team’s WR2.

TE Jelani Woods

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Draft Selection: Third round (No. 73 overall)
Grade: B

The only regret the Colts should have about drafting Woods was that they didn’t get him on the field more. Every time Woods touched the football, it seemed like something explosive happened. He grabbed 25 receptions on 40 targets for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Among the Colts with at least 150 routes run, Woods led the way with 1.51 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. Woods should be a massive building block for the next regime.

OT Bernhard Raimann

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Draft Selection: Third round (No. 77 overall)
Grade: C+

That might seem a little low, but that’s not a bad grade at all. Raimann was expected to go through some growing pains during his rookie season if and when he took over as the starting left tackle. The good news is that he steadily improved as the season progressed, and had some impressive outings against some extremely tough pass rushers. Raimann’s biggest concern right now is his anchor, which was exposed against power rushes. That’s to be expected considering he was a tight end just three years ago. If he continues to add weight and strength, he certainly could be a long-time left tackle.

S Nick Cross

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

Draft Selection: Third round (No. 96 overall)
Grade: F

Right now, this selection is the worst of the draft class, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on Cross just yet. The Colts traded a 2023 third-round pick in order to be able to draft the rookie out of Maryland. He excelled during training camp and the preseason and then started Week 1 as the starter. However, Cross played just six defensive snaps after Week 2 and was a healthy scratch in the meaningless Week 18 game. It was as baffling as it was discouraging. Even so, Cross is just 21 years old, and there is obvious talent to be developed. We shouldn’t give up on Cross yet, but his second season will be vital for his career.

DT Eric Johnson II

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

Draft Selection: Fifth round (No. 159 overall)
Grade: C+

Despite coming from a small school, Johnson was on the active roster for the entire season. He didn’t play a massive role, but it’s not often a fifth-round defensive tackle from a small school stays on the active roster as long as he did. There’s still a lot of potential for Johnson to grow into a bigger role as an interior impact player.

TE Andrew Ogletree

Draft Selection: Sixth round (No. 192 overall)
Grade: N/A

It would be unfair to give Ogletree a grade considering he tore his ACL during training camp. He was trending in the right direction so hopefully, he can pick up where he left off.

DT Curtis Brooks

AP Photo/Joshua Bessex

Draft Selection: Sixth round (No. 216 overall)
Grade: F

Late Day 3 picks typically don’t turn into much given the history of the NFL. There was a lot of potential here with Brooks but somewhere along the way, a disconnect became evident. Brooks was the first draft selection from this class that the Colts parted ways with, releasing him from the practice squad. Typically, a team would at least keep a player around on the practice squad if they feel there’s still development. We don’t know what happened, but the selection of Brooks won’t have a positive impact on the roster.

S Rodney Thomas II

Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Selection: Seventh round (No. 239 overall)
Grade: A

In terms of value, this was the best selection of the draft. Thomas emerged as a starter on the defensive side of the ball, and he made some major impact plays throughout his rookie season. He appeared in all 17 games while making 10 starts and playing 63% of the snaps. Thomas recorded four interceptions and six passes defended. He’s certainly a building block for the future.

CB Dallis Flowers

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Selection: Undrafted
Grade: B+

We have to acknowledge the impact that Flowers made on the roster. Though he spent most of his time on special teams, the Colts found an electric kick returner. The undrafted rookie led the NFL in yards per kick return (31.1), and he started taking on that role halfway through the season. Flowers also had some impressive moments as a defender, but the impact he made on special teams should not go unnoticed.

LB JoJo Domann

AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

Draft Selection: Undrafted
Grade: B

The Colts may have found another contributor on special teams. Domann was a mainstay in that phase of the game for the entire season. His 58.2% snap share on special teams was tied for the third-most on the team. He made a strong case to stick around as a core special teamer.

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