How valuable are the best players on the Colts? If they were traded for tomorrow, what would the Colts have to get to even consider or execute a trade? In order to understand the overall value of the team and its top players, it’s important to break it down into separate tiers and see who are the most valuable and who aren't.
The 1st Round & More Group
These three players are the cream of the crop; they are the three most valuable players on the Colts in terms of trade value. Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard were All-Pros last season, are both under the age of 25 and can get a lot better, which is very scary. Trying to acquire them in a trade would require at least two 1st round picks, plus a couple of 2nd or 3rd rounders, and even then I wouldn’t expect Chris Ballard to accept it. It’s obvious that those two are going to be around for a long time.
Ryan Kelly might surprise some, but here’s the deal with Ryan Kelly. Most measures see him as a top 5 center in the NFL; centers are crucial and are the leaders of the offensive line. He is 26 years old, which is still quite young, which means he still has room to grow as a player. With regards to a trade, he isn’t as valuable as Nelson or Leonard, but trying to acquire him in a trade would take more than just a 1st round pick (which is what the Colts spent on him in the first place), so I believe he belongs in this category for those reasons.
One First Rounder Group
TY Hilton and Anthony Castonzo are among the best in the league at their position. Hilton’s worth has been on display this year as the Colts are winless without him and his presence is missed. There is a strong argument that Hilton is the most important and valuable player on the team. So with all that being said, he must be the most valuable player in a trade? Well, not exactly. He’s going to be 30 in a couple of days, has had lingering injuries over the past few years and who knows how many years he has left. Hilton’s talent level alone is still worth a 1st round pick, but all the other things hurt his value.
Castonzo is one of the better left tackles in the league, but is 31 years old. Left tackles can be effective until their mid30s, so he’s worth the first rounder, but not much more.
Malik Hooker is a young, dynamic playmaker, but injuries and inconsistent play has hindered the start of his career. At his best, he’s one of the best free safeties in the league, but he doesn’t always play like that. He’s not bad by any means when he’s not as his best, but just not as dynamic and can be invisible at times. His talent and ceiling are worth the 1st round pick, but the risk (injuries and inconsistency) keep him at just a first round pick.
One 2nd Rounder Group
This group can be seperated into two groups: the staple players and the upstarts. Mack, Moore and Turay belong in the upstart category. All three are under the age of 25, have had noticeable impacts on the team and look to be key players moving forward. Mack and Moore play two positions that just aren’t worth 1st round picks in trades (running back and nickel cornerback). Turay might eventually be worth a 1st, but he’s not there yet. He’s had great flashes, but they aren’t enough to warrant anything more than a 2nd rounder.
The staple players, represented by Brissett, Doyle and Desir are more established NFL veterans. Doyle and Desir are in their late 20s, are very good but not special players and have had good impacts on the Colts. For the Colts to depart with either of them, it would cost a 2nd round pick and nothing less. The same goes for Jacoby Brissett, even if his future with the Colts might be cloudy after next year. He’s played well enough to be a starter in the league for several teams, but is repleceable. He’s not untouchable and I believe a 2nd round pick would be adequate enough in a trade for Brissett.
3rd Rounder + A Late Pick Group
This group can be seperated into two categories: good but not great young starters and very good veterans. Sheard, Houston and Autry would be in the very good veteran category. All three have been productive in their careers with the Colts and have had impacts this season. All are around 30 years old and don’t have too many top years left in them, but might be very good starters for 2-3 more seasons. Those type of players usually go for 3rd round picks plus a conditional 6th round pick.
The other group of good but not great young starters is represented by Walker and Smith. Both are what the title says they are: good but not great. There’s not other way to describe them. They get the job done most of the time, they have some good plays each game, but it’s clear they aren’t in the upper echelon of their position in the NFL and are serviceable. You can’t just replace them with anybody, but you can part with them if given a 3rd round pick and a later pick.
4th Rounder Group
These three veterans are very inconsistent, and while they can be very good, over the past year, their value has declined due to some poor play. They have decent talent and are all in their mid-to-late 20s, so they still have a lot of gas left in the tank. They just aren’t impact players that will turn an offense or defense around, but are good enough to help already established teams. Those type of players are almost always worth a 4th round pick or something very similar. In this case, I’ve classified all three as 4th round value.
5th Rounder Group
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Sanchez is a very good punter, but punters can be found anywhere and just aren’t valuable. If given a 5th, you take that in a heartbeat. Devin Funchess, who is only on a one year contract with the team, has missed the majority of the season with an injury, but will be back soon. When healthy, he’s a good player, but clearly the injury hurts his value. Margus Hunt is similar to the 4th round guys, but he’s been invisible in 2019.
The “Too Young to Know For Sure, but Let’s Try Anyways” Group
Khari Willis - 2nd Round
Rock Ya-Sin - 2nd Round
Ben Banogu - 2nd Round
Marvell Tell - 3rd Round
Parris Campbell - 3rd Round
Bobby Okereke - 3rd Round
Zach Pascal - 4th Round
EJ Speed - 5th Round
These players are very hard to classify. Essentially, you have to look at where they were drafted and have they gotten better, worse or the same in 2019. Players like Willis and tell have clearly been impact players and have had very good starts to their careers, so I believe they’ve improved upon their draft position. Players like Banogu, Speed, Ya-Sin, Campbell and Okereke have had their moments, but have had nothing special starts to their career so I believe they stand around where they were drafted. As far as Pascal, he’s playing well, but he’s still too new in the Colts offense to give an accurate projection.