Saturday night I had the privilege to be a part of a Colts pre-draft panel where we discussed what the Colts might do at the 24th overall pick and many other things. Also on the panel were the Indianapolis Star’s Mike Chappell, the Herald Bulletin’s George Bremer, Colts blogger and author Nate Dunlevy, 1260 AM radio host Derek Schultz, and Bleacher Report’s Will Carroll and Tyler Brooke, the latter of whom coordinated the event.
As I mentioned, we started off by discussing what we thought the Colts would do at pick number 24. While we discussed many different possibilities at the spot, we all were in agreement that trading back was a very intriguing option that the Colts absolutely must consider. I have been supporting this position for quite a while now, and it seems that many others hold the same opinion. So why should the Colts trade back in this Thursday’s draft (yes, it’s coming up VERY soon!)? Let’s explore that a bit closer.
The biggest and most obvious reason is because of the minimal talent gap in this year’s draft. Even at the top of the draft there is no real star player like there was last year. [Another question was posed to us about which prospect would be worth trading up for, and none of us could come up with anyone.] There are several good players, but there doesn’t appear to be that sure-fire superstar in this class. And even more so, the Colts could draft a player of very similar caliber early in the second round as they could at 24. The talent gap just isn’t that big – in fact, it’s hardly there. If the Colts stay at 24, they will likely end up overreaching for a player that they don’t need to overreach for. Sure, there are those players who if they are still around at 24 the Colts should absolutely draft. But all of those players are ones who would have to take a draft-day slide into the mid-twenties. Especially with this draft, it could happen. But of those players that are "supposed" to still be there at 24, I just don’t think it’s in the Colts’ best interest to draft them there. Let’s say the Colts are targeting a wide receiver (this likely isn’t their first priority, but it makes for a nice example and is still a real possibility). At 24, they may be able to take someone like Tennessee WR Cordarelle Patterson, a player that they likely couldn’t early in the second round. But if they did trade back, they may be able to get Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton, who I think is a better prospect and pick for the Colts than Patterson. Drafting Patton at 24, however, would be overreaching for him. That's just one example, and they likely wouldn't take Patterson anyways because of his off the field issues. But my point is that the best value for their pick would probably come through trading back instead of drafting someone.
Additionally, there will be teams looking to trade up. This year's quarterback class is weak. Ryan Nassib has been rising and could very well go to the Bills at number 8 (it seems like a perfect fit on paper). But where does Geno Smith go? That is probably the biggest question in the entire draft. Nobody seems to know. About the only consensus we have is that it will be sometime in the first round. He could go number 4 to the Eagles, but that would be way too high for him. Then there's the chance that the Jets are interested in him, but I don't know if they really are. Basically, if Geno Smith falls out of the top ten, he could very well make it to the 24th pick. It just depends on when other GMs get trigger happy and trade up. Even if Smith goes before he gets to the Colts pick, teams may still be trying to trade up for someone like Matt Barkley. Barkley would have been right up there after Luck and RG3 last year and would have likely gone to Miami - in the top ten. He still has a ton of potential, and he is the guy who I think has the best chance in the NFL of all of the quarterbacks in this draft. Teams may be trying to trade up for him by the time the Colts pick in the mid-twenties.
Our own Evan Sidery had the Colts trading out of the 24th spot to the Philadelphia Eagles, who then selected Geno Smith. This is a very real possibility and the one that I like the best. If Smith gets past the top ten and starts to slide, I expect the Eagles to move up to get him. And why not just make another trade with Ryan Grigson and the Colts? Makes sense to me. I don't know what Evan had the Colts giving up or getting from the trade, other than they give up the 24th pick for the 35th pick. They would get the Eagles third round pick as well (67th overall). This would be a tremendous move for the Colts, and it would give them an additional pick with which to draft, as well as allowing them to address needs at a spot where the value is more fitting for the pick.
We'll look more into what the Colts could do after trading down in the next day or so (hint: I highly doubt that Bjoern Werner is there in the second round for the Colts to take, as Evan projected). Bottom line is that the Colts absolutely should trade down from the 24th spot and that it is a likely possibility as well.
As Brad Wells noted, Mike Mayock said that it will be tempting for the Colts to trade back. Heck, even Ryan Grigson said that the Colts will explore trading down unless there is a guy there that they really love. And I'm going to venture to guess that there won't be that type of player there at 24.
Trading out of the first round and into the early second round, while picking up an additional pick as well, is the best option for the team and will be enabled by other squads looking to move up to get a quarterback. I nailed the Colts' first round pick last year by saying they'd draft Andrew Luck. So when I say they should trade down this year, you should listen. After all, not only did I pick it right last year, but the pick seems to be turning out rather well...