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Colts trade up to draft Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor
8:46 PM ET
  • Mike WellsESPN Staff Writer

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    • Previously worked at Indianapolis Star, covering the Indiana Pacers for nine seasons
    • Also covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press

INDIANAPOLIS — New Colts quarterback Philip Rivers will have another threat out of the backfield to turn to next season.

The Colts jumped up three spots in the NFL draft to add to what was a top-10 rushing offense last season when they selected Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor in the second round with the No. 41 overall pick. The Colts, who did not have a first-round pick Thursday, gave the Cleveland Browns the 44th and 160th overall picks to move up to select Taylor.

Taylor joins a backfield that features 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack (1,091 yards), Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. That group helped the Colts finish seventh in the league in rushing while running behind one of the best offensive lines that’s led by Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson.

Taylor rushed for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns last season at Wisconsin. His 12 career games with at least 200 yards rushing are the most by any player in Football Bowl Subdivision history. Taylor is the highest running back selected by the Colts since they picked Donald Brown with the 27th overall pick in 2009.

Holding on to the ball was an area in which Taylor struggled in college, losing 15 of his 18 fumbles at Wisconsin. Colts running back coach Tom Rathman puts ball security at a premium. He only fumbled seven times in nearly 900 touches during his NFL playing career.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard is making a concerted effort to give Rivers, who signed a one-year contract with the Colts in March after spending his first 16 years in the league with the Chargers, as many offensive weapons as possible at his disposal.

The Colts used their first pick of the second round — No. 34 — on USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr. He was one of four receivers in the FBS with at least 100 receptions last season when he finished with 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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