It doesn’t take much to understand that recent events could potentially alter the landscape of the 2018 NFL draft. Alex Smith being traded to the Washington Redskins does a couple things that could drastically affect the Indianapolis Colts and their ability to not only get who they desire with the No. 3 overall selection, but also their trade-back options.
Trading back is widely regarded as the move to make for the Colts in order to acquire more picks, and still potentially get their top-rated prospect outside of the quarterback ranks. Let’s take a look.
The Redskins, just a few short hours ago, were envisioned to be a potential quarterback landing spot in the upcoming draft. Kirk Cousins would have been expected to be getting a major payday if he received another tag, but a backup with the purposes of developing into a potential starter for the 2019 season would have been the idea in play.
Would they have traded up to get one? Maybe, and maybe not, but the major situation that this brings about is the possibility for the Cleveland Browns to be a heavy contender for the services of Cousins now in the free agent market as it approaches.
Should the Browns land Cousins, they could still draft a quarterback at some point, but they could use their No. 1 selection on an impact player such as Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley or even Minkah Fitzpatrick — among others — and trade their No. 4 overall pick to move back a bit and still grab one of the top quarterbacks to develop for a year or two under Cousins. This ultimately would make the Colts adjust their approach without one of the top talents in the draft available for them at No. 3.
The Colts could still get a guy they desire, but you get the picture.
There’s additional fallout, though, that could come from this beyond the Colts current No. 3 slot as well. If the Browns don’t get Cousins’ services, but the Denver Broncos (No. 5 overall) — who seem like the suspected front-runner — or even the New York Jets (No. 6 overall) were to sign him to a free agent deal, it changes things from a different perspective.
Both of these teams are in desperate need for one of the top quarterbacks as well. If one of them nabs Cousins, then this eliminates one of the Colts potential partners to trade back minimally, but still allowing them to get a top guy on their board. For instance, if the Broncos sign Cousins then the Jets may no longer need to trade up to get the one they desire with only 2 quarterback-needy teams ahead of them.
This situation makes things quite interesting for the Colts. The Arizona Cardinals at No. 15 appears to be the next possible destination for a quarterback, and after them, it’s the Buffalo Bills with back-to-back picks at 21 and 22 as the next reasonable destination.
Could the Colts still follow their vision drafting in the same spot in which they acquired Malik Hooker last season with this field? What about dropping all the way back to 21 and getting those two picks from the Bills and whatever else they could acquire from that potential trade?
The most interesting part about all of this, in regards to how it affects the Colts, is that this trade happened so early in the process, that it could be just the first of many dominoes to fall and the entire state of the 2018 NFL draft could change even more well before anyone is on the clock in late April.
This may not change much of anything that the Colts hope to do going forward, and it could vastly alter multiple possibilities including a few of the situations I listed above as well as some we don’t even see coming at this point.
Another offseason that doesn’t look like it’s going to disappoint.