You know it, I know it, everyone in pro football knows it. We were all expecting the Indianapolis Colts to work out a deal with the Chicago Bears for the first pick in this year’s NFL draft and be done with it. It made all the sense in the world. You trade the No. 1 overall for the fourth pick, get the best QBt, the Bears still land in the top 5 and everyone leaves happy.
With the Carolina Panthers beating all other teams interested in that premier pick, the Colts now stand where they’ve been all along, at the fourth spot and in line to get the third-best QB in the draft. So what’s next for Indy?
While all signs point toward Carolina taking CJ Stroud, Houston going with Bryce Young at the 2, and Arizona going defense at 3, which of the two remaining top QB prospects will be tasked with taking Indy’s offense to the next level?
Ryan Is Gone, a Clear Sign of Changes Coming
Since Andrew Luck astonishingly decided to call it a career in 2019, in a move that shocked the NFL to its core, the Colts have found no luck with their QB department. After going through a carousel of veteran QBs, Indianapolis only managed to dig itself into a deeper hole.
First in line was Philip Rivers, who in his only year with the team before retiring managed to lead the Colts to an 11-5 and their last trip to the playoffs. Afterward, Carson Wentz tried, and failed along the way, leaving Indy right where they’ve been all along.
Lastly, there was the whole Matt Ryan experiment, but with the veteran getting his walking papers the Colts are back at square one. Where is that you wonder? As a passer-less team in a division where at least two out of the three remaining rivals seem to have their QB plans set for the future.
Yeah Tennessee, I’m not putting you on that list. Either get your act straight or deal with it.
Ryan’s departure after one season in Indy leaves the team with two important factors to consider for 2023. Economically there is the $17.2 million in saved cap space, followed by an $18 million hit in dead cap. And from a football perspective, a need to stop kicking cans down the road with veterans that can’t add anything positive to the squad.
So all in all, thanks for nothing Matt.
Richardson Feels Like the Right Choice
After the 2023 NFL combine it’s safe to say that all teams in the league, even those who have no need whatsoever to take a QB in the draft are high on Florida QB Anthony Richardson. Seen by many football pundits as the QB with the most upside in this year’s draft class, word of the Colts seeing Richardson as their next franchise QB has started to spread around the top NFL rumors sites.
So what does Richardson bring, and how can the Colts benefit from snagging the former Gator?
On the one hand, there’s his physical prowesses, fully put on display at the combine. Running a 4.43 40-yard dash, and breaking the QB record for vertical jump with 40.5 inches, all while having a 6-foot-4, 244-pound frame.
As he said in his media session during the NFL combine, “I’m able to do everything on the field. Run over people, jump over people, run faster than people, throw the ball pretty well. So just tying it all together, I feel like that just helps me become a better QB.”
With Richardson drawing early comparisons to Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson, how could the Colts not be excited at the idea of having the Florida star get his NFL career going with a new coach, and former Eagles OC Shane Steichen?
Steichen, who was the architect of Jalen Hurts’ rise to stardom in Philly could find in Richardson the most important pillar to kickstart a new era in Indy. One where explosiveness will be the main objective.
On the other hand, though, not all can be sunshine and rainbows for Richardson. His lack of playing experience with Florida, having only played one full season as a starter, where he went 6-6, makes it apparent that he is more of a 2-3-year project instead of an instant impact player.
How Much of a Gamble Would Levis Represent?
Looking at the top QB prospects, considering Stroud and Young are out of the equation, Kentucky’s Will Levis feels like the safest pick for Indy. But who wants “safe” when you can have explosive, right?
After spending the first part of his college career at Penn State, Levis found his niche at Kentucky where he was a starter for the last two years of his college career. Playing for the Wildcats, the passer showed strong signs of promise, especially when it comes to accuracy. It was in this season’s combine though, where just like Richardson, Levis dazzled analysts and scouts alike with his physicality and talents.
To say that he has a cannon for an arm would be an understatement. We’re talking about a QB who is beginning to draw comparisons to one Josh Allen when it comes to his passing strengths. He has the physique that all teams gravitate toward when looking for a young QB. His footwork and speed to avoid tackles, when playing with a decent offensive line, is also something to commend.
Still, bringing comparisons down to earth for a second, Allen and Levis are light-years away from each other.
Yes, he has the arm, he has the physical frame, he has the athleticism, and confidence through the roof. But as long as questions of him being able to piece everything together to become a top-tier QB are still up in the air, his upside might end up becoming irrelevant when decision time comes for Indy in the NFL draft.
With the 4th Pick, the Colts Select:
If I was Colts GM Chris Ballard, the answer is simple. Go with Richardson and shoot for the stars. Take explosiveness over safety. Richardson might be a bit more of a project, but if worked on right, he could be the leader of a whole new era for Colts football.