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5 QBs Indianapolis Colts could target in the 2023 NFL Draft

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

The Indianapolis Colts 2022 season has not gone as anyone expected. While many thought this would be a playoff team, and some thought it would be a team that could win the division. Now, fans are turning their attention toward the upcoming NFL draft. 

The Colts are most likely looking at a pick in the top 10. Their range of outcomes in their exact spot is anywhere from second overall to the tenth pick. It all depends on how the team performs to end the season and how much help they can get from the other franchises near them in the NFL standings

It’s painfully clear that the Colts need a franchise quarterback, and they’re in luck because this draft has several. Besides shoring up that need, the Colts could also use some offensive line help and another edge rusher. Depending on where the team finishes this season, they may have to trade up in the first round in order to select their franchise quarterback. 

Related: 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings

Here are five potential quarterback options for the Colts in the 2023 NFL Draft.

C.J. Stroud, quarterback, Ohio State

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
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Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are thought to be the top two quarterbacks in this draft class. If the Colts are going to get one, they’re going to need to be in the number two spot to be sure. It’s possible Seattle, Detroit, and Philadelphia (currently all ahead of Indianapolis) don’t stay at their current spots. Or, in Seattle and Detroit’s case, they stand pat and select their franchise quarterback. 

  • C.J. Stroud stats (2022): 3,340 pass yards, 37-6 TD-INT, 87.7 QBR, 66.2% completion

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

If Indianapolis feels that Stroud is their guy, they need to make sure they move up the draft board. Stroud is an accurate quarterback who’s had the luxury to play with two current NFL wide receivers and two future ones. He’s also had the benefit of playing with NFL talent along the offensive line. All of this has allowed him to thrive in college and be a Heisman candidate. 

When he’s had time in the pocket, he’s been able to dissect just about any defense. Unfortunately, when he’s not had time, his production takes a hit. This is a big concern considering at the NFL level quarterbacks often get asked to make plays in situations where they have pressure in their face or are on the run.

Hendon Hooker, quarterback, Tennessee

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Hendon Hooker was looking like a Heisman candidate until he suffered an ACL tear. This injury is surely going to sink his draft stock. Where he goes in the draft is anyone’s guess at this point. Considering the Colts haven’t drafted a quarterback higher than the fourth round, this makes Hooker arguably general manager Chris Ballard’s top QB target.

  • Hendon Hooker stats (2022): 3,135 pass yards, 175.5 QB rating, 430 rush yards, 32 total TDs

Hooker has a strong arm and two very impressive seasons at Tennessee. Unfortunately, he profiles as the second coming of Cam Newton from a passing standpoint. In watching his game tape, he is only reading half of the field and making his throws if they’re there. If a throw isn’t there, then he looks lost and isn’t nearly the runner as Newton.

Cameron Ward, quarterback, Washington State

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona
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Another quarterback who could get the eye of Ballard and the Colts that will fall outside of the first round is Cameron Ward from Washington State. He started his college career at Incarnate Word, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision, then he transferred to the previously mentioned Washington State. He’s put up some nice stats and shows a lot of talent. 

  • Cameron Ward stats (2022): 3,094 pass yards, 23-8 TD-INT, 60.4 QBR, 5 rushing TDs

He’s 6-foot-2, 220 lbs, and possesses a solid arm. However, his footwork leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of the throws he made were with him being flatfooted. Now some of that is because his offensive line did a poor job blocking. But there were times when he had time, and instead of stepping into the throw, he decided to use just his arm. If his footwork can get cleaned up, there could be some more arm strength and consistency in his passing ability.

Related: Indianapolis Colts schedule

Will Levis, quarterback, Kentucky

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky
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Now, one player who has been on many Colts fans’ boards is Will Levis. Thanks to the resurfacing of a video some fans are hesitant to hop on board. Regardless of that video, the kid has some NFL talent. He has a strong arm and enough mobility that he can hurt a defense, plus reports are out there that he is a good leader.

However, his footwork also needs work, as does the consistency of his play. There are times when he looks really good, and then times when you ask yourself, “what happened?” Now, some of that inconsistency might be because there isn’t a lot of NFL-level talent around him this season. It makes it a bit more difficult to evaluate him. Similar to Josh Allen’s last year in college.

Anthony Richardson, quarterback, Florida

Indianapolis Colts, Anthony Richardson
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Another guy who has flashed major NFL-level tools is Anthony Richardson. He’s also been shooting up Colts fans’ draft boards over the past few weeks. The gold standard for NFL quarterback play is Patrick Mahomes. There are instances where Richardson can do some Mahomes-type things. 

  • Anthony Richardson stats (2022): 2,549 pass yards, 17-9 TD-INT, 654 rush yards, 9 TDs

However, he profiles more as a prospect who could be somewhere between Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. Richardson is more of a project quarterback, but his potential, if he hits his ceiling, is someone special. In watching his game tape, there are times when his wide receivers let him down with drops. But he looks like a guy who can be a franchise quarterback for a lot of organizations.

Related: Indianapolis Colts coaching candidates

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