It has become undeniable at this point that the NFL is an offensive driven league where QB's are expected to be playmakers, offensive coordinators are more creative, teams play to the strengths of their QB's, having 2 #1 caliber WR's is preferable and etc. Taking the emotional aspect out of our fandom for the Colts, let's be real, we're kind of stuck and mediocre. In a league where everything is relative to each other, we might take pride in a hard fought win over a team like the Chiefs, but in reality we're not even in the same stratosphere as them. Currently in the AFC, the hurdles are numerous. We have Mahomes, Burrows, Allen, Herbert, Lawrence and we can't discount Jackson, Watson and hell, even Wilson and Rodgers are still likely to have something in the tank to give. I believe it's better to rip off the bandaid and come to terms with the facts at hand and commit to a rebuild. I think our 3 objectives moving forward should be:
1) Trade up to #3 and ensure we get our QB of the future
2) Surround that QB with as many playmakers as possible
3) Commit to rebuilding
Of course, this is much easier said than done but there are practical steps the Colts can take to ensure we built a sustainable winner and generate much needed excitement and hope moving forward. It starts with trading up with the Cardinals to get one of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson. In my non professional view, all 3 QB's have elements and tangible traits that work in their favour that can allow them to blossom to high end QB's. They have their flaws but there's no such a thing as a perfect prospect, nor we do need a hero.
So why trade up to #3? Simply put, I don't think any of these 3 guys are making it to #4. I truly believe that Las Vegas might jump us to get Anthony Richardson in a trade up with the Cardinals. The conundrum for the Cardinals is the drop off in talent after Will Andersen. Will Andersen is an elite EDGE prospect in the mould of many of the all-pro's drafted in the past 15 years. This looks like a relatively weak draft that got weaker after the whole Jalen Carter fiasco. Of the non-QB players, I am confident in Andersen, Jaxon Ngigba Smith, Bijan Robinson and Peter Skoronski as guard panning out. Especially on the d-line, I have my doubts about Tyree Wilson, Miles Murphy, Lukas Van Ness and Nolan Smith. The Cardinals need to hit on this pick badly and replenish a depleted roster. Let's not allow them to overthink this and trade the premium needed to get AR (presumably) with the #3 pick.
Why not stay at #4 and select Will Levis? I don't dislike Levis, in fact I believe context matters with all of these QB prospects. My main issue is that as an almost 24 year old entering the NFL, his combination of skills isn't better than that of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson. He's not the cerebral type QB that Burrow or Pickett were as older QB's who really put it all together in their final college season. You have questions about his decision making, accuracy, play style. So he's not as accurate or as good of a decision maker as Young or Stroud. He lacks the ability to make plays out nothing like Bryce Young, he's not as athletic as Anthony Richardson is and hell Richardson was the better decision maker and ball protector on tape last year as well. It just seems like both the floor and ceiling is lower with him.
Ok, so once we get our QB at #3, we must not take our foot off the pedal. The motto should be to surround, surround and surround this QB some more with more playmakers and protection. At #35, the likes of Josh Downs, Darnell Washington, Sam Laporta as well as offensive linemen like Luke Wypler, O'Cyrus Torrence, Steve Avila, John Michael Schmitz. In particular, I think Josh Downs is a safe bet to be a good slot WR. I think he compliments Pittman, Pierce very well as a dynamic and crisp route runner who knows how to separate. While Washington is a bit more raw, his size and athleticism makes him a specimen but there's also more to him than that. Washington looks quite nimble on tape and seems like a fluid route runner but even more impressive is his determination and ability to be a monster as a blocker. We need to add some much needed dynamism.
So while it seems like an overpay to trade a few extra 3rd and 4th round picks to get pick #3, we must come out this class with a young QB. We can replenish our draft cupboard by trading veterans like Buckner and Moore, who don't really fit the timeline of our rebuild, for picks. I believe there could be a market for Buckner where we can fetch a 2nd round pick for him (maybe a Buffalo or Minnesota) or at worst, a 3rd rounder, especially in a weak DT class. I know PFF catches a lot of flack but they have been right on quite a few things, especially the fact offensive output is more consistent on a year to year basis while defensive performance is a lot more variable. So while Buckner is individually a very good player, adding more picks to build our offense is paramount. I'll close on the fact that the 2024 draft class has special players. Harrison Jr, Alt, Bowers, Fashanu would have all been the first players coming off the board if they declared or were draft eligible in 2023. The possibility of timing our rebuild in a way where we can get 2 offensive cornerstones in consecutive drafts just makes too much sense.