According to ESPN’s Todd McShay (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts will trade up with the Arizona Cardinals for the #3 overall pick in order to select Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson in his new 2023 NFL Mock Draft:
Projected trade: Colts aren’t taking chances
After the Bears traded the No. 1 pick, the Cardinals’ No. 3 pick became highly valuable. It’s apparent two quarterbacks will be drafted with the opening pair of picks, and the QB-needy Colts sit at No. 4. So any team that covets a potential franchise signal-caller better act fast, and moving up to No. 3 is the best bet.
In this scenario, it’s actually Indy that makes the move, sliding up one spot to block any other teams trying to nab a passer and securing its guy in the process. And for Arizona, this is the best-case outcome. The Cards drop only one spot to No. 4, can still draft a dominant defender and pick up something in the ballpark of a third-rounder (No. 79) and a future second-rounder along the way.
3. Indianapolis Colts (mock trade with ARI)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
I’ve heard mixed messages regarding the Colts’ interest in quarterbacks not named Young and Stroud, but the veteran route just hasn’t worked for them. They’ve started each of the past five seasons with a different starting QB, and they scored the NFL’s fewest points in 2022 (15.8 per game). If either Richardson or Kentucky’s Will Levis is Indy’s guy, it can’t afford to stay at No. 4 and just hope things work out.
There is obvious risk with Richardson, and it’s certainly possible Gardner Minshew would be getting the Week 1 call. After all, Richardson has just 13 career starts and accuracy issues to work through, mainly stemming from poor footwork and still-developing touch. But you’d need to call in NASA to reach his sky-high ceiling. At 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds, Richardson ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and has the strongest arm in this class. If he puts it all together, he could be a star in the NFL. New Colts coach Shane Steichen might be the guy to get him there.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this would be the fourth time in the common draft era that quarterbacks go 1-2-3. The most recent occurrence came in 2021.
The Colts have been heavily linked to Richardson ahead of the NFL Draft, although it’s a fair question of whether he’ll be available with their currently held #4 overall pick—or if a trade up with Arizona may actually be necessary to select the uber-athletic top QB prospect.
The listed 6’4” 232 pound redshirt sophomore completed 176 of 327 pass attempts (53.8%), throwing for 2,549 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions during 12 starts for the Gators this past season.
He also amassed 654 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns on the ground.
Richardson is the most athletically gifted quarterback prospect in this year’s class—and arguably of all-time, following a spectacular NFL Combine showing. He’s incredibly well-built, has a cannon for an arm, and is dynamic in the open field running with the football.
While still a bit raw as a passer and developing, Richardson has shown tremendous poise and strong pocket presence, despite his limited started experience collegiately—with the special ability to also improvise and extend plays under duress.
The fact that he’s young for this class, turning just 21 years old in May only works in his favor regarding his still likely untapped upside and potential.
However, he’ll still need to refine his technique, footwork, and overall accuracy—especially regarding some of his intermediate throws, as well as his decision-making at times.
Given the Colts need to find a franchise quarterback again, Richardson makes sense for the Colts as a ‘boom or bust’ prospect with NFL superstar potential. If an NFL team is going to gamble, why not bet on the most toolsy and physically gifted QB in this year’s class?
Not to mention, he’s also a natural fit with new Colts head coach Shane Steichen, who can deploy him as a dual-threat quarterback in his system similar to breakout star Jalen Hurts.
It’s worth noting that McShay also projected the Colts to select Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents with the 35th overall pick in the early second round:
35. Indianapolis Colts
Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Brents stood out at the Senior Bowl and then wowed during combine drills, posting wild 41.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-6 broad jumps. He is a solid press corner who takes away receivers with his long arms and pulled down four interceptions in 2022. And the Colts traded away Stephon Gilmore, opening up a spot on the cornerback depth chart.
The 6’3”, 198 pound (with 34” arms) redshirt senior cornerback recorded 45 tackles (28 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 4 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, and a forced fumble during 14 starts for the Wildcats. He was a standout for Warren Central High School in Indianapolis.
Having lost both veterans Stephon Gilmore and Brandon Facyson this offseason, the Colts have a pretty significant need for a starting outside cornerback.