After finishing this past season with four wins and twelve losses, the Indianapolis Colts have found themselves holding the number four overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Their most obvious need is a quarterback, however, they aren’t bound to select a player of this position. They have other areas they could look to use their pick such as along the interior offensive line, at the cornerback position, or out wide at receiver. Nonetheless, there are plenty of options for the Colts to pursue.
1. Bryce Young, QB – University of Alabama
- Shown the ability to get through all his reads.
- Calm demeanor in the face of pressure.
- Mahomes-like escape ability.
- Good communicator with downfield receivers when extending plays.
- Good arm strength to deliver balls with zip.
- Weight concerns for a player of his size.
- Sometimes seems reluctant to run the ball.
- Sometimes uses too much arm to throw instead of also incorporating his lower body.
Currently the prospect with the best odds to go number one overall, there are rumors in the Vegas sportsbooks that Kentucky QB Will Levis will go first instead. However, Alabama’s Bryce Young would be a much better option than Will Levis given how far ahead he is with how he moves in the pocket, is able to extend plays, and be accurate both inside and outside the pocket. If available, Young is a clear choice for the Colts at fourth overall when compared to the other quarterbacks of Will Levis and Anthony Richardson.
2. CJ Stroud, QB – Ohio State University
- Arm strength to air the ball out down the field.
- Accuracy at all levels of the field.
- Looks natural in the pocket as he goes through his progressions.
- Capable of using his legs if needed.
- Needs to better activate his lower body to become more of a threat on deep balls.
- Needs to trust his legs more to escape pressure instead of just stepping up in the pocket.
If there’s a prospect who’s battled Alabama’s Bryce Young the most for the number one overall pick, it has to be Ohio State QB CJ Stroud. His poise in the pocket, accuracy, and arm strength are all above Young’s although he may not have the same pocket presence or willingness to use his legs as the Tuscaloosa product. Many around the league believe that even though Young may have a higher floor, Stroud has a higher ceiling.
3. Will Levis, QB – University of Kentucky
- Experience from taking snaps under center.
- Extremely tough and gritty player as he played through injuries in 2022.
- Willing and capable runner.
- Has a cannon for an arm.
- Very athletic with the body build to expand NFL offenses.
- Can sometimes take a while to develop his rhythm within games.
- Needs to improve and trust his footwork more to deliver more accurate passes.
- Poor feel for pressure in the pocket.
After Stroud and Young, it really comes down to personal preference as to who will be the next quarterback off the board. Florida’s Anthony Richardson seems to have a much higher ceiling, but Will Levis seems to be the safer pick while also having a significant amount of upside. He has a cannon for an arm, is a willing and capable runner, is athletic and full of toughness, and has experience taking snaps under center. However, Levis does need to develop a rhythm more quickly at the beginning of games in order for him to succeed at the next level.
4. Anthony Richardson, QB – University of Florida
- Elite size, strength, and speed for the quarterback position.
- Has the arm strength to make any throw at any level of the field.
- Has the size to run people over but the athleticism to avoid contact.
- Has the size and strength to stand in the pocket to deliver in the face of pressure.
- Inconsistent when it comes to his accuracy.
- Sometimes makes plays that cause you to scratch your head.
- Needs to do a better job at getting through his progressions.
- Needs to improve footwork to become more accurate inside and outside the pocket.
As this year’s draft cycle has gone on, no one has enjoyed it more than Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Originally slated to be a day two selection, the former Gator is now projected to be a top four selection. Despite of his elite blend of size, strength, and speed, some still have Richardson being selected in the middle or late first round thanks to the great inconsistencies he plays with. He’s inaccurate, lacks the overall experience, and is slow getting through his progressions, but his ceiling is arguably higher than Bryce Young and CJ Stroud’s.
5. Hendon Hooker, QB – University of Tennessee
- Good blend of a pocket passer-size and abilities with dual threat athleticism.
- Establishes a rhythm in each game fairly easily.
- Fast-twitch release when delivering the football.
- Experienced player who understands where and when blitzes may be coming.
- Good feel for the pocket around him.
- Will be a 25 year old rookie.
- Likely won’t be ready for the season opener due to an ACL tear during last season.
- Will need to show can be more accurate when anticipating throws in between windows.
- Will need to do a better job at avoiding contact outside the pocket in the NFL.
Hooker is an interesting prospect as he could be a first rounder if it weren’t for him tearing his ACL last college football season and him being a 25 year old rookie. He can deliver from the pocket but also extend plays thanks to his dual threat athleticism. Furthermore, he has a quick release with a good feel for the pocket and has plenty of experience to back up his play. As I said, he is rather old for a prospect and is also coming off a major injury. However, with draft weekend being full of surprises, he could be a name to watch if the Colts decide to trade down in round one.
6. Peter Skoronski, OL – Northwestern University
- Vice grips for hands to go along with a strong upper body.
- Great leg drive to compliment his strong lower half.
- Good core strength and flexibility.
- Patient and precise when he shoots his hands.
- Keeps a wide base and good leverage on his blocks.
- Great choppy movements to mirror rushers.
- Tends to over run and over reach on blocks allowing for linebackers and edge defenders to fit behind him.
- Needs to do a better job at kick sliding back when aligned with explosive, upfield rushers.
- Initial punch can be a little too late at times.
Arguably the best OT in this year’s draft class, many are projecting him to move to the interior due to his lack of length. If the Colts do decide to trade back, Skoronski could be a steal if available. The Colts could use some help on the other side of Quentin Nelson and Skoronski could be the guy to cement Indianapolis’s status as one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Especially if the Colts choose to pass on one of the top quarterbacks, they’ll need a solid offensive line if they wish to beat the Jaguars and win the AFC South.
7. Tyree Wilson, DE – Texas Tech
- Elite size with lengthy arms.
- Stays tight to the line of scrimmage to seal edges on run plays or crash down the line of scrimmage.
- Great body control allowing Wilson to change direction at a moment’s notice.
- Good long speed.
- Attacks with good leverage to attack the chests of offensive linemen.
- Takes a false step limiting his explosiveness off the snap.
- Can play narrow at the point of attack stemming from a narrow base.
- Needs to attack blocks more violently.
- Needs to keep hands closer to body to better swat away punches.
If the Colts elect to not draft a quarterback and go best player available, it would likely be Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson who’s selected. Wilson is an excellent blend of size, length, and speed that could take the Colts defense to the next level despite also needing to fill holes in their secondary. With a front seven already having names such as Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, and Shaquille Leonard, adding a talent such as Tyree Wilson could transform the Colt’s defensive front to being one of the best in the NFL.
8. Christian Gonzalez, CB – University of Oregon
- Desired blend of size, length, and speed for NFL play.
- Fluid and seamless in his movements as he mirrors wide receivers in man coverage.
- Good footwork allowing him transition from man to zone and zone to man looks.
- Very good recovery speed for a larger cornerback.
- Below average anticipation to jump routes in zone coverage.
- Hit or miss at interrupting catches downfield.
- Needs to use his size more consistently to be more physical with receivers.
- Inconsistent when required to tackle in the open field.
If the Colts decide to help their secondary in the first round, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez is one of the more prominent names to know. He’s a lengthy prospect with great speed allowing him to quickly recover if beat. Additionally, he is fluid in his movements and possesses great footwork allowing him to disguise coverages and mirror receivers. He could use more experience being a team’s number one cornerback to get a better feel for the game but if selected by the Colts, him and Kenny Moore II could immediately become the best cornerback duo in the AFC South.
9. Joey Porter Jr., CB – Penn State University
- Uses size well to be physical along the routes of receivers.
- Uses his length to to contest catches.
- Good hand usage to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage.
- Matchup potential against bigger wideouts and tight ends.
- Not twitchy enough to mirror receivers at the top of routes.
- Delay in transition coming out of press coverage.
- Too grabby along routes.
- Open field tackling needs some work.
Son of an NFL Pro-Bowler, Penn State University’s Joey Porter Jr. has an alpha mentality that he brings onto the football field each play. He’s a big, lengthy, and physical player which allows him to match up against larger wideouts and potentially against tight ends. He has good hand usage to reroute receivers, but he consistently finds trouble at the top of routes. He is slow transitioning out of press coverage, he has trouble mirroring receivers in the later stages of routes, and can get too grabby during play.
10. Devon Witherspoon, CB – University of Illinois
- Impressive route recognition to quickly break out of coverage.
- Takes good angles to the ball.
- Instinctive ball skills to disrupt passes at the catch point.
- Willing and physical tackler.
- Lacks makeup speed to recover when beat.
- Too willing to jump routes and break on double moves.
- Coverage is handsy downfield.
- Bites often on route release fakes.
The University of Illinois’s Devon Witherspoon is the third of the triumvirate of premier corners in this year’s class. When speaking about one or two of the three, its only right to mention the others. When it comes to these three, it is truly up to personal preference more than it is who’s better because of how good all three are. Witherspoon is a hawk in coverage. He takes good angels to the ball to disrupt catches along with being a physical tackler on the edge. Unfortunately, reward typically doesn’t happen without risk. Witherspoon often bites on release fakes and double moves which only spotlights his lack of makeup speed. Nonetheless, if the Colts opt to fill a whole that isn’t the quarterback position, Witherspoon could be a lockdown corner to haunt AFC South wide receivers.
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