All indications are that the Indianapolis Colts will select a top quarterback prospect with the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (*unless the team trades up to #3 with the Arizona Cardinals), in the hopes of the Horseshoe finding its next franchise passer.
It’s likely to be a quarterback among the highly touted group of Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
Regardless of which of those top quarterback prospects hears his name called by the Colts on draft night, it’s critical that GM Chris Ballard and his scouting department get it right—even if it means trading up in the process to #3 to ensure Indy ultimately ‘lands their guy.’
After all, nothing may be more damaging to the franchise to see let’s say the Tennessee Titans trade up to #3 to land the top quarterback prospect the Colts may have coveted, while Indianapolis is left with the default fourth choice at quarterback because of their frugality in surrendering the necessary draft capital to get a deal done. If that quarterback prospect at #3 then turns into a superstar, while Indy’s de facto choice is chopped liver, that’ll sting for a long time for the Colts (especially in the rare chance it’s a divisional rival).
For a regime’s opening mantra that it “wouldn’t be about one guy.” Since Andrew Luck’s abrupt and shocking retirement after the 2018 season, it’s proven it essentially has been.
The Colts have been through four opening starting quarterbacks since then.
They’ve tried veteran retreads and stopgaps alike, as well as a reclamation project, but it hasn’t worked out in the end for any option—as the Colts have steadily declined as a franchise since #12 surprisingly hung them up for good.
The Colts cannot be afraid to ‘take the plunge’ by not selecting a top rookie quarterback prospect because of the uncertainty and risk of busting that comes along with it.
More than anything though, they have to get this one right.
Ballard once said in January of 2021:
“The one position that you cannot, just all of you go back and look at first round quarterbacks drafted over the last 10 years,” Ballard said to the media regarding forcing a first round selection at quarterback. “It is not an exact (science), everyone just thinks you take one and you’re going to fix the problem.”
“Look, taking one will get you all off my ass for a little bit, but the second that guy doesn’t play well, I’m going to be the first one run out of the building.”
He’s right now too though, with pressure clearly mounting, and the need for results and long-term stability—at the league’s most important position.
The problem is that the Colts have had enough time and potential opportunities to find a long-term solution at the position since Luck retired. However, the team’s risk adverse approach of possibly fumbling such a pick because of the lack of a surefire or generational prospect available to them has unintentionally set the franchise back regardless.
Were any of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson full-proof prospects once upon a time? Look at them now.
Head coach Shane Steichen has recently stated that the Colts are focused on the draft at starting quarterback—as they rightfully should be.
Enough is enough, with stopgaps, retreads, castoffs, etc., and it’s overdue for the franchise to draft and develop a potential quarterback cornerstone again—even if it’s inherently risky.
Five opening starting quarterbacks in five years is a lot for any general manager and football operations staff to keep their jobs. Ultimately, their future with the franchise will come down to the success of this pick, because even though they’ll be given a few years to await the early returns on such a young quarterback, they’re very unlikely to survive a failed sixth.
The success of the Colts franchise over the next handful of years rests squarely on this pick.
The Horseshoe and those in charge absolutely have to get it right.