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Indianapolis Colts mock draft 2023: Building a team around QB of the future

The Indianapolis Colts fell wildly short of expectations during the 2022 NFL season, landing closer to the bottom of the standings than playoff contention. It’s made the 2023 offseason pivotal for the franchise, with the 2023 NFL Draft having the biggest influence on the future.

Following years of quarterback purgatory, Indianapolis will make finding a long-term solution the top priority. It’s why general manager Chris Ballard is willing to do ‘whatever it takes‘ to land a franchise quarterback. Hiring a new coach can help the offense improve in 2023, but upgrading the most important position in sports is the only way for Ballard to preserve his job long-term.

Related: Indianapolis Colts coaching candidates

As we begin with our offseason coverage, exploring ways to improve this roster, our first Colts mock draft takes the approach of turning this franchise around quickly.

Indianapolis Colts draft needs 2023

In advance of NFL free agency, here are the Indianapolis Colts draft needs in 2023.

  • QB
  • WR
  • OG
  • CB
  • LB
  • EDGE

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

2023 Indianapolis Colts draft picks

Here is a list of the Indianapolis Colts draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • 1st round, 4th overall
  • 2nd round, 35th overall
  • 3rd round, 79th overall (via WAS)
  • 4th round, 103rd overall
  • 5th round, 135th overall
  • 6th round, 193rd overall
  • 7th round, 214th overall (via TB)

Indianapolis mock draft 2023: Going all-in for QB1

Sportsnaut uses Pro Football Focus’ NFL Draft simulator, which provides the flexibility to trade and work through a variety of scenarios. Let’s dive into our Colts mock draft.

1st round, 1st overall*: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
  • TRADE: Indianapolis Colts trade 4th overall pick, 35th pick, 103rd overall pick, 2024 1st and 2nd to Chicago Bears for 1st overall pick and 128th overall pick

Indianapolis leads things off by paying a significant price to move up three spots in the 2023 NFL Draft. Acquiring the No. 1 pick comes at a high cost, sacrificing first- and second-round selections in each of the next two seasons. However, that is a direct result of the competitive market and Chicago holding leverage over a desperate Colts franchise.

We’ll start with the negatives with Young. Measured favorably at 6 feet, he lacks prototypical NFL size and there is a short list of quarterbacks with his dimensions having long, outstanding careers. Kyler Murray is a recent exception, but his elite athleticism helps save him. As for Russell Wilson, he showed more pure arm strength in his early years than Young entering the NFL Draft.

Even with those concerns, there is no quarterback more prepared to start in an NFL offense and play well right out of the gate. Young’s intangibles are through the roof and he handles every situation like a season NFL quarterback. In 2022, Young posted a 95.2 NFL QB rating with a 9-3 TD-INT rate vs pressure, averaging 9.3 yards per attempt (PFF). He also crushed teams who dared to blitz him.

  • Bryce Young vs blitz (2022): 18-2 TD-INT, 111.7 NFL QB rating, 8.3 yards per attempt

Young can also thrive in a variety of ways. On play action in 2022, he posted an 11-3 TD-INT line with a 90.0 PFF grade and a 130.6 NFL QB rating. On throws 20-plus yards downfield, he posted a 95.0 PFF grade and averaged 15.6 yards per attempt with a 6-1 TD-INT line. He also picked opponents apart on intermediate throws (10-19 air yards), completing 65.7% of his attempt with a 13-3 TD-INT line and 1,192 passing yards.

He fits perfectly in a balanced offense with Jonathan Taylor forcing defenses to respect the rushing attack, opening up throws downfield. Young would also be great for Michael Pittman Jr., who did most of his damage (9.44 yards per route run, 95.6 PFF grade) as a target on intermediate throws. Just add in a vertical threat and the Colts’ offense will dramatically improve in 2023.

3rd round, 79th overall pick: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts desperately need speed. During the 2022 season, Matt Ryan attempted a throw 20-plus yards downfield on just 4.3% of his pass attempts. Even the team leader, Sam Ehlinger (12.9%) would’ve ranked outside the top 16 quarterbacks this year. Part of that problem was the receivers.

Related: Fastest players in NFL

Jalin Hyatt is the solution. The Biletnikoff Award winner dominated some of the best defenses in the SEC this season, becoming one of the breakout stars in college football. He finished with the third-most deep yards (633) in the FBS on just 13 catches, averaging 48.7 yards per catch downfield.

Pittman Jr. would occupy the outside, providing that dependable boundary weapon that can work over the short areas of the field and he will consistently move the chain. Meanwhile, Hyatt slides into the slot, taking Parris Campbell’s role, while Alec Pierce operates in all areas of the field. An offense with Young, Taylor, Hyatt, Pittman Jr. and Pierce can compete in a shootout with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Round 5, 128th overall*: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane Green Wave

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Okereke was the team’s best linebacker in coverage this season, which says a lot regarding the state of this position. Staring down the possibility of losing Okereke to the free-agent market, Indianapolis needs to prepare to find his replacement.

Dorian Williams dominated in pass coverage across three seasons, earning an elite 92.4 PFF coverage grade during his career. It’s best highlighted by his final season, when he dropped back into coverage 367 times and allowed just 161 combined receiving yards on 27 targets with an average 67.1 QB rating allowed. He also finished with the 10th-lowest rate of missed tackles (8.5%) among linebackers with 300-plus coverage snaps.

At 6-foot-2 and 230 lbs. Williams attaches his size to NFL-caliber athleticism and that strengthens confidence he will handle the jump from Group of 5 play to the NFL well. He’s no slouch against the run either, missing just 8.2% of his tackles with an average depth of tackle at 3.7 yards. Learning from Shaquille Leonard, Williams could become the next impact linebacker for the Colts.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft rumors

Indianapolis Colts 7-round mock draft

  • 1st round, 1st overall*: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  • 3rd round, 79th overall: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
  • 5th round, 128th overall*: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
  • 5th round, 131st overall: Tony Grimes, CB, North Carolina
  • 6th round, 163rd overall: Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia
  • 7th round, 195th overall: Nick Hampton, EDGE, App State

We’ll provide updates to our Colts mock draft every month leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft.

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