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Where there's Smoke there's Fire, the Colts are Open for Business with the 6th Pick

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2012 NFL Draft - First Round Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right? Well not always, especially when you’re talking about the NFL draft. The amount of information that is being fed to reporters via player agents, anonymous scouts and even high ranking members of NFL front offices, is absolutely crazy.

Wading through the ocean of rumors to try to find any truth is nearly impossible. Everyone is trying their best to manipulate everyone else and no one knows how much is true. There are occasions, however, something is said often enough that it seems to have some merit.

This article from NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah mentions that he’s hearing that the Colts will look to trade down again:

Colts are looking to trade down again: The Colts’ roster is in bad shape and many around the league expect them to trade down from the No. 6 spot to gain more draft picks. As you’ll recall, Indianapolis traded down from the No. 3 spot in a deal with the Jets last month. I would keep an eye on teams like the Bills and Cardinals as potential trade partners should their quarterback of choice make it to Indy’s pick at No. 6.

These rumors aren’t saying unequivocally that Chris Ballard is going to move back, again, they’re all saying that it’s a possibility. So what does that mean? What it means is that the Indianapolis Colts are open for business by all accounts.

Let’s take a look and speculate on the why’s, what’s and how’s of a possible trade back from #6:

Why it makes sense:

Every position group besides QB could be upgraded with a player in the first three, maybe four rounds. Adding additional draft picks is giving our scouting staff extra darts to throw in hopes they hit a couple bulls-eyes.

Understanding why it makes sense isn’t difficult, more picks = more players and while more players =/= better players, the Colts are in that old awful place of having a boatload of positional needs.

Why it doesn't make sense:

Simple, the player you take at 12th overall isn’t as good of a prospect as the guy you’re taking at 6th overall. Obviously there are guys picked low every single year who outperform guys taken early but they are selected outside the top 10 because there were better prospects ahead of them, at least according to the information available to teams prior to the draft.

A lot goes into player success and production. Far too much to ever say that had the Browns selected Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson, either guy would have been good NFL players. There are just too many variables.

It’s possible if Chris Ballard were to trade for the number 12 and 22 picks he would end up with two players who are better than the player selected 3rd or 6th overall. It’s possible, but history tells us that isn’t likely.

We could see trade back after trade back after trade back but eventually you have to pick some players. Ultimately, wins in the NFL come when good players make plays in big situations and the guy you take at number 6 overall, on paper, is capable of making more of those plays than a guy or guys taken later.

What has to happen with picks 1-5 to make this a possibility:

On 4/20/18 Chris Ballard answered a multitude of questions from local media about all things related to the Colts. Perhaps the most interesting thing from Ballard’s comments came in his answer to how many “premier” non-quarterbacks he believed were available in this class. The number he gave was 8.

Ballard has said time and time again that he wants to make sure he’s in a position to add a premier player. So figuring out what might happen is difficult. What isn’t difficult is figuring out how far back Chris Ballard is willing to trade come Thursday.

It’s simple math, really. four quarterbacks are expected to go in the top 10. Chris Ballard has said position doesn’t matter but that he wants a premier player that other teams are going to have to gameplan for and provide the type of impact that will win games. So you take the four quaterbacks and you add them to the eight premier players and you end up with 12.

On the surface, it seems that Ballard would be willing to drop all the way to 12th overall. But wait, there’s more. Ballard doesn't say that all 8 of those premier non-quaterbacks are the type of players that other teams have to gameplan for, nor did he say that all 8 are capable of adding tally marks to the win column.

So what’s the number he’s actually comfortable moving back to? No idea. None. Maybe the real number is 8, maybe it’s 11, maybe it’s 15. He’s given us nuggets but there is no smoking gun, no matter how hard I look for one.

One thing that’s certain, no other team is going to stack the board like Chris Ballard will, so it’s completely possible a team throws a curve and selects a guy not on Ballard’s “elite 8”. If that happens it means he’s likely willing to move down another spot.

No matter what happens in regard to how far back he’s willing to move, there has to be someone available that teams are going to want to draft. That means either Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold are going to have to fall to our pick at number 6. If that happens Chris Ballard’s phone is going to explode.

Another thing to consider here, none of us have any idea how teams actually view Lamar Jackson. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re thinking it because he’s been trashed in the media. He’s been trashed in the media by anonymous sources, the media reports what they hear. Do you know who the media uses as a source most of the time? Agents. Believe it or not, I of all people, have been contacted before by player agents.

So why would NFL agents want to make Lamar Jackson look bad? Also simple, he didn’t hire an agent because the rookie wage scale is set and he didn’t want to pay an agent. It doesn’t take a smart man to understand why agents would want to make a guy who is challenging the value of their profession, look bad.

So, in my opinion we don’t have an accurate picture of how teams view Lamar Jackson, we know how agents view him, they don’t like the kid. Forget everything you think you know for a minute and think about what happens if 4 QB’s go in the first 5 picks and Chris Ballard gets a call from the Dolphins because they want to take Jackson.

It seems unlikely, but it’s possible. Ultimately there absolutely has to be a QB someone desperately wants available with the sixth pick.

To go one last level deeper into what has to happen for another trade back to become reality this revolves around what can’t happen. The New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos can all trade back from the 2nd, 4th and 5th picks respectively. If any of those teams move back and allow a team to move up, it will greatly reduce any leverage Ballard would have when discussing possible trades. In my opinion, if a trade into the top 5 happens, it all but eliminates the possibility of another day 1 trade back.

Which teams might be interested in the pick?

The obvious list:

Other teams like the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints are unlikely to make a move but it’s always possible given the fact that their current starting quarterbacks are on the wrong side of 35. The Cincinnati Bengals have also somewhat surprisingly, shown interest in Lamar Jackson and while it’s very unlikely after having already traded back in the first round, I can’t shake the feeling that they would do something stupid like trade their entire draft to move to 6th overall. Who knows if Chris Ballard takes that deal but this is the Bengals we’re talking about, sorry Bengals fans but you’re lying to yourself if you think your team is going in a positive direction after bringing back Marvin Lewis the way they did.

The most likely teams from that list, to actually move up are the Dolphins and Bills. Each team can offer the most in terms of compensation and like all things in this life, everything has a price, the 6th overall pick is no different.

My Prediction:

The Indianapolis Colts make the 6th overall pick.

What a letdown, I know. It’s just that there are too many possibilities to say that the Colts are likely to make this deal. If the Dolphins and Bills get into a bidding war with the Colts, what’s stopping either team from going to the Browns at 4 or the Broncos at 5?

Further that’s assuming the guy(s) either team wants is still on the board and there’s no promise that happens. Even if it does, we know Ballard believes there are 8 premier players on the board, but what if he ranks 2-3 ahead of all the others? He didn’t say that he didn’t, he just said there are 8 premier players. What if the guy, Ballard’s favorite guy in the entire class is staring back at him at number 6? Would it matter if the Bills offered three 1st round picks? I’m not sure, he might, but no one can say with any certainty.

One thing he’s done a good job of is building a ton of value with his answers and all of the speculation that will follow. If he wants a bidding war and the chips fall just right, he’ll get the bidding war he’s after.

I can’t take credit for that idea, that was Stephen Reed:

I think I can safely say no matter what happens, we’re all ready for Thursday. What do think happens come draft night?

Poll

What do you believe is the most likely draft day scenario?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Stay at 6
    (679 votes)
  • 7%
    Trade with Dolphins
    (96 votes)
  • 36%
    Trade with Bills
    (474 votes)
  • 1%
    Trade with Cardinals
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Trade with Patriots
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Trade with another team
    (30 votes)
1304 votes total Vote Now