The Indianapolis Colts are in need of a franchise quarterback, and now after Carolina traded up with Chicago, the Colts are likely set to miss out on the top three quarterbacks in the draft, with Houston targeting a QB at No. 2 as well. So, who are some of the options for the Colts? Before we get to the list, we have to provide some context.
This list will be based on four criteria and will include both free agents and draft prospects. The first is the current draft position of the Colts, currently being at fourth overall. The second is the list will also operate under the premise that both Matt Ryan and Nick Foles will be cut from the team. The third is utilizing general manager Chris Ballard’s previous draft experience. Finally, the fourth is the team making any trades to help.
Here is the list of the three best-remaining quarterback options for the Indianapolis Colts.
Related: Indianapolis Colts draft picks 2023
Indianapolis Colts stand pat at No. 4
Ballard has never traded up in the first round of any draft, and considering this team has many needs to fix, moving up would not help. This roster is not just one quarterback away from Super Bowl contention. However, getting a legit quarterback can elevate this team back into the playoffs. Especially if the front office makes some shrewd moves in free agency.
After the combine, both C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson helped themselves out the most of all of the quarterbacks. Now, Bryce Young, Stroud, and Richardson are the top group of quarterbacks. With Will Levis coming in a lower tier. This isn’t to say that Levis had a bad combine, he just didn’t have as strong of a combine as the others.
As previously stated, Carolina has the first overall pick, and they have stated that there are two quarterbacks they could choose. With this shake-up, all previous mock drafts done before the trade are now void. Richardson and Levis are both now going anywhere from three to seven. And both of these guys have been linked to the Colts.
Related: NFL free agent tracker 2023: Latest signings, contract info, news for all 32 teams in NFL free agency
Chris Ballard and the Colts repeat history with band-aid
At his end-of-the-season press conference, Ballard said that if there is a quarterback in the draft they felt was worth moving up for, they would do that. Well, considering the team didn’t trade with Chicago, it is unlikely they trade with Arizona. It also means they don’t think there is a QB in this draft worth taking at No. 1, either.
If the Colts aren’t able to make a trade and stay at No. 4, it’s most likely that they take the best available offensive or defensive linemen. Then in the second round, a player like Hendon Hooker could be a prime target for the team. Hooker is coming off an ACL tear that he suffered late in last year’s college season. He wasn’t able to participate in any of the combine activities, and at this point, he’s targeting being ready for Week 1 of the NFL.
Also, it appears that despite not participating in the on-field combine activities, he aced the team interviews and onboard work. Subsequently, he has team visits with the Colts and at least four other teams. Besides rehabbing from injury, there is still a concern about how much work he’ll need in order to succeed in the NFL. During his last season at Tennessee, some have suggested he was only asked to read half of the field.
Now, if you ask him, he has an explanation for that.
“It didn’t help that defenders can’t cover my receivers. So, my job is to get them the ball.”-Hendon Hooker
This kind of confidence makes Hooker an easy player to root for. But he is a player that will need more development in order to succeed in the NFL. This could fit well with the Colts. They could start Sam Ehlinger, and then maybe around the middle of the season, they can turn it over to Hooker. If Hooker shows a lot of promise, then maybe the team could replicate Chicago’s 2022 season and earn the top overall pick. If he doesn’t, then the team can be in consideration to take the top QB in next year’s draft.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft: Round 1 outlook after Bears, Panthers trade
Colts swing for the fences
Considering that Carolina now has the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and at best, the Colts can get the third-best quarterback in the draft or, at worst, the fourth-best. The team could change course. They were likely never going to pay Chicago’s price of high draft picks (a first or second-round pick) in the 2023, 2024, and 2025 drafts. Especially not for an unproven commodity in the most important position.
They could always trade high draft picks for a veteran quarterback. Ballard has previously done this move twice before; acquiring Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. Obviously, neither one of those moves worked. Now, a move that would most likely be divisive amongst the fan base would be trading for Lamar Jackson.
The Colts could trade their first in this year’s draft and next year’s for him. They’d also have to sign Jackson to a big, possibly record-breaking contract. Considering the Colts aren’t flushed with cap space, they’ll need to make some money-saving moves. Acquiring Jackson and the deal he’s signed to, could impact what the Colts do with their own upcoming free agents over the next few years. For example, Michael Pittman Jr., Jonathan Taylor, and Isaiah Rodgers are all facing extensions soon enough.
If the Colts acquire Jackson, they’ll certainly have a plan in place to take care of some of their own upcoming players, but keeping all may not be possible. Regardless, as of right now, the Colts aren’t in a great position. And a lot of it has to do with the team not successfully addressing their needs.
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