According to SI.com’s Albert Breer, ‘there are fans in the Indianapolis Colts building’ of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, should he fall outside the first two picks to the Arizona Cardinals’ #3 (*trade up) or #4th pick respectively (which Indy currently holds):
“That means Stroud slipping past the Texans at No. 2 would be a pretty good development for Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort,” Breer writes. “There are said to be fans of Stroud in Indy’s building, and the Colts pick fourth.”
Once considered the popular choice to be the #1 overall pick when the Carolina Panthers traded up to the top spot, there’s now been recent buzz that head coach Frank Reich’s team could elect to select Alabama’s Bryce Young at quarterback instead.
Not only that, but there’s also chatter that the Houston Texans, picking #2, could opt to select a top defensive player such as Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. to jumpstart new head coach, and former Texans’ linebacker DeMeco Ryans defense at that spot—and potentially trade up into the Top 10 for a quarterback from #12 to address the position on the backend.
That could leave Stroud to surprisingly slide a bit, where another quarterback needy suitor could trade up to #3 with the Arizona Cardinals—potentially even the Colts, if they’re not comfortable sitting and waiting at #4 for the talented Ohio State passer to fall another slot.
Regarding Stroud, who the Colts recently hosted this past weekend for a pre-draft visit:
“The 6’3”, 218 pound junior quarterback completed 258 of 389 pass attempts (66.3%) for 3,688 passing yards, 41 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions during 13 starts for the Buckeyes in 2022.
He was a second-team All-American selection, won First-Team All-Big Ten honors (for a consecutive season) and was the recipient of both the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year Trophy.
Stroud is renowned for his accuracy, ball placement, and ability to make layered throws all over the field.
He’s also shown the ability to improvise and be more dynamic as a mobile quarterback than he’s sometimes been credited for—given that he wasn’t asked to do it often with Ohio State, but really shined in the College Football Playoff against Georgia in that regard. Even as more of a traditional pocket passer, his NFL floor appears to be pretty high, as does his pro ceiling.”
What will be very interesting though is if at the #4th spot, the Cardinals cannot find a viable suitor, and both Stroud and Florida’s Anthony Richardson are available—both of whom the Colts have been speculated to be heavily interested in. In that unique (but unlikely) scenario, we’ll see who Indy actually prefers between the pair.
In any case, we’re in the thick of ‘smokescreen season’ so there will be a lot of rumors to sift through—some true, some untrue, as the 2023 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away.