Hey framily! It’s been a while! Suffice it to say, I’ve sat on my hands for a little over a month leading up to the Draft and yes, I’m still pinching myself to ensure this is real, but the Indianapolis Colts just pulled off the greatest draft heist in history and I’m about to explain why. Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers and what they gave up to go from 9th to 1st to select Bryce Young to start this year’s NFL Draft. From this link on the Panthers’ website, it says they gave the “Bears the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, the late second-rounder acquired from the 49ers (61st overall), along with next year’s first-round pick, a 2025 second-rounder, and wide receiver DJ Moore to get to the No. 1 overall choice in this year’s draft.” Before we EVER talk about the Colts’ 4th pick in this class, we will have to start with the fact that it appears the Panthers could have just stayed at 9 and taken former Kentucky QB/now Titan QB Will Levis. My first question for this class will always be “Was it worth it for the Panthers to pass on Anthony Richardson after giving up that much capital?” Mouth it with me “NO”.
Here’s my latest podcast titled “The Welcome Home Episode”. I am in my second year (season) of a podcast called The Coltist. My cohost Mateo Caliz you all know and love get together a couple of times a month during the offseason and every week during the NFL regular season to keep you all up to date on everything going on with the Colts (and Pacers!). Sometimes, I record a podcast, upload it to YouTube and fall asleep in the process. An article never gets written. This is my bad. Here our latest episode where we talk about each drafted player in-depth!
A lot, and I mean a lot has to go right to keep a QB upright and the first time Bryce Young gets ear-holed and you hear whispers of “Tua”, remember I told you so. I have been shouting this from the rooftops (okay, I’ve been repeating it in our Discord) that GMs are starting to (snicker) draft better athletes at every position and that these pass rushers are Olympic athletes and these offensive tackles are not that quality of athlete. There are exceptions to every rule, so I don’t want to see a bunch of comments about “not all tackles”, but again I’ll ask the audience, would you have traded up from 9 to 1 for this year’s 1 and 2, next year’s 1 and 2, and your best WR for the 1st overall pick? Oh, if you say yes, your new QB is 6’0” ~200 lbs and I was that same size when I was 15 years old almost 25 years ago. I can tell you that he is one hit from a crash cart at that size. We all are. Football is a dangerous game.
Now that we’ve completely destroyed Carolina for giving up 5 people for 1 person (not good value if you value people), we can move on to the Houston Texans who we can agree did nothing wrong at all by taking CJ Stroud with the 2nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and that is where the injustice starts. My only request before you debate that point is to go back and watch 2023 OSU vs UGA and tell me CJ Stroud isn’t the best QB prospect in this class from a pure passer under duress standpoint, which he will be under duress in Houston. The Colts have a formidable defensive interior that Stroud is not good enough of an athlete to avoid that. What Houston DID do, however, is give the Indianapolis Colts the opportunity to select the best athletic prospect at the QB position the NFL has ever seen. Yes, kids, you know how Chris Ballard loves traits? From a measurable, physical perspective, Anthony Richardson is the next iteration of a great quarterback. Houston could have stayed Out of the Way, let another QB-hungry team jump up and take Anthony from the Colts, and force them into staring down the barrel of taking Will Levis with a Top 5 pick (shudders). The next question after “Was it worth it for the Panthers to give up a 5-for-1 for Young?” is for Houston and it’s “Would you give up rookie defensive lineman former Alabama DT Will Anderson in exchange for your 12th overall pick, their 33rd overall selection, as well as their own 2024 first rounder and a 2024 third-rounder to Arizona. In exchange, they received the third overall selection”. Houston had the 12th pick, their QB of the future, and decided to give up a 4-for-1 to select a lineman. I don’t ever want to hear a word about the Quenton Nelson pick again.
We’ve now assessed the picks ahead of the Colts and determined that Carolina overpaid and mortgaged their immediate future for someone I question if he has the size to withstand the rigors of an NFL regular season + playoffs. Houston nullified an awesome pick by again mortgaging their short-term future for again, one lineman. I award them no points and may God have mercy on their souls. For the record, the Draft SHOULD have gone 1. CJ Stroud 2. Anthony Richardson 3. Will Anderson 4. Bryce Young IMHO and I am still singing the same tune except we didn’t trade five picks to have him get blown up like a pinata. Anthony Richardson’s size, arm, and athletic ability alone that make him the most interesting QB prospect I can recall. I have heard the noise.
Let me first give you my elevator pitch in case you haven’t heard of it or me before.
I am a football coach in training. My objective is to become the next great NFL/NBA head coach. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working with a 501c3 called Soldiers to Sidelines that aims to put disabled Veterans like me on the sidelines as coaches. I have football coaching certifications from the organization that partnered most recently with the New York Jets. My belief is that I will be selected to attend “Scout School” with the New York Jets through Soldiers to Sidelines and that happens at the end of this month. I have previously scouted quarterbacks for our draft guides, coached quarterbacks for a local semipro team, and trained as and played quarterback in the last five years. This means that in addition to my day job helping the elderly and the poor with their healthcare, and in addition to my podcast and my writing gig here, add the fact that I’m going back to school full-time to study Analytics at Purdue so I can become a high school teacher and football coach after whatever happens in the meantime (throws hands up - who knows, right?).
I’m coming. Just like Deion.
I try to be objective. My analysis is as follows. The three most important attributes a QB can have are size, arm strength and athletic ability. No matter what offense you run or players you put in front of a QB, his ability to take damage and have Unflinching Courage, recover from mistakes, take the obvious open throw first, and then connect on the deep ball, actually, is what makes a QB great. The most obvious and glaring issue AR has is short area accuracy with the ball and also that he only has 13 starts. I’d argue first that his offensive system was bad, their system was bad, and that those two issues are both connected and fixable. I’d argue it’s actually A Good Thing that he’s only got 13 starts (they were SEC starts, so those count double), and he showed improvement over the course of those 13 games.
It’s harder to hit an object farther away as evidenced by science and in nearly every other sport. Excellence is a matter of repetition. I believe the Indianapolis Colts have had half of the “great quarterbacks” in the last 20 years on their roster and that’s only talking about PFM and Luck. This organization knows what it takes to ensure your QB can hit the short stuff. He can also throw the absolute bejesus out of the ball deep, so I think we’re good here. I believe in people and that again, excellence is just a matter of repetition and really if we can just stay mostly healthy we’ll be a .500 or better ball club no problem.
We need to talk about Chris Ballard being cooler than a polar bear’s toenails (oh Hell) from moment one. “I think we’ll be able to take the best player in this draft” when asked if he was comfortable sitting at the 4th pick. In 10 years when AR has multiple trophies let’s revisit this, shall we? I have stood behind Ballard this entire time because I honestly believe he’s one of the best GMs in the NFL and has proven himself competent time and time again.
I want to take a moment to brag about our staff here at Stampede Blue, in particular Chris Shepherd. My man spends a lot of time and is dedicated to his craft as are the rest of my peers here. He had a list of draftable prospects going into this draft and we found ourselves shocked that we were able to take the players that we took AFTER we had already selected AR. I say this to say, I’m really not sure what I’m more excited about, the AR pick or the rest of the Colts 2023 Draft class, actually. I believe Josh Downs is going to be a problem for years to come. Selecting him after taking JuJu Brents just filled my heart with joy because I know both of those players are going to do great things.
One of the things I want to take time to address is the difference between a traditional dropback passer and an athletic or running QB. The Colts, for the record, have deployed at starter PFM, CP, PR, MR, and JB counts as a half because he’s almost athletic enough but all these guys’ highlights are from throws made inside the pocket 4.5 dropback passers versus 3.5 athletes at starting QB if you count AR. My personal thoughts are that Jimmy Butler and Jacoby Brissett are basically the same person and we’re all just a coinflip away from the better or worse version of ourselves. The thing about AR that I’ve noticed is despite his size and athletic ability, some of his “wow” moments are just darts in traffic or bombs from the pocket. It’s striking, actually. You see a big, athletic guy like that and think Cam Newton/Ben Roethlisberger and I honestly think AR is way different than either of those players. I hope it’s because he’s taught spatial awareness and emotional intelligence first. Look at the Cincinnati Bengals offense the last couple of years. They are horrendous on 1st and 2nd down but are just flatout unstoppable on 3rd down. That’s the bare minimum I expect out of AR. Joe Burrow.
The thing Joe Burrow has shown us is that you can be white and athletic enough — even after a knee injury to be highly effective in and outside of the pocket. He’s resilient (that Unflinching Courage we talked about?), he recovers from mistakes quickly, hits the obvious stuff and then can flat-out huck it deep, amirite? This is the sort-of bare minimum (call it scrappy-good) I can get a sense of out of AR. That’s an insane floor!
The ceiling is somewhere beneath Patrick Mahomes (current GOAT) but he could be better than Aaron Rodgers/Dan Marino/Tom Brady/Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson and them. Maybe not up there with PFM (honestly his tape looking back is second to none) and I’m still not done digesting Luck’s film. It’s just a thing of beauty. I want to make sure to look ahead to Caleb Williams out of USC. I think when we look back to the last 20 years from 2005-2025, there’s a chance (based on a myriad of variables), that the Colts have a QB who is available (what did we learn when we interviewed Eric Ebron? Availability is the best ability, right?) effective from within the framework of the offense (it’s about pulling levers) and resilient in the face of adversity (there is always adversity - matter of fact that whole chip on your shoulder bit is the best motivator out there).
His glaring issues? Lack of experience and ineffective in short-yardage situations are connected and fixable. You can’t make a person become an athlete. Guys don’t go from being non-athletes in college to athletes in the pros. You had to have all of that, too. AR needs those repetitions with his teammates he’ll be working with on gameday the most. My argument is zero of his previous throws matter or count for or against him until after he and Josh Downs played catch in a hotel parking lot the other night. Once we get to training camp and preseason, if we hear rumblings of a lack of maturity or see wildly inaccurate short-yardage passing, come at me about these issues because to me they are non-issues.
Otherwise, we need to let this kid breathe. There is so much pressure and I honestly hope he tunes it all out. He’s got the kind of potential you typically have to give your entire franchise away to get. The Colts got to take him and also have an otherwise (like, outside of that pick) outstanding draft. Adding 11 players in a draft is awesome for your young roster, as are all the UDFAs the Colts got to sign, some of whom were highly draftable prospects that slipped through the cracks. Remember, the draft and player evaluation are not perfect processes. There will be misses.
My miss from this draft will be TE Will Mallory because he slipped up going through this process and that screams a lack of interest. His dad is a famous coach, his family is full of coaches and he is a great athlete despite his slip-up. Football is a mental game and you have to be all-in or you’re a detriment to your team. I’m just saying! I think the Colts are a perfect landing spot because his uncle Curt is the head coach of the Indiana State Sycamore football team down in Terre Haute, Indiana a little over an hour outside of Indianapolis and that can be a local source of inspiration (he can connect with that program and inspire them - it would be fulfilling for him). Yes, I think disappearing at the Senior Bowl is a slip-up. He needed to stand out! That’s all I’m saying. There’s something to be said about knowing where you’re going and just trying to make it into the loving arms of an NFL franchise, too.
Despite all of that, the Colts went QB, CB, WR, OT, DT, CB, S, TE, RB, EDGE, CB, OT with their picks positionally, breaking down to 1QB, 1RB, 1TE, 2OT, 1DT, 1EDGE, 3CB, 1S. Just as you and I thought, the Colts were light in the secondary and In the Trenches. 4 picks went to the secondary, 4 went to the trenches, 4 skilled players or people that touch the football were drafted. I believe Evan Hull could spell and complement JT nicely. Really, all a player has to do to succeed at this point is strive to get better every single day and stay healthy and interested in football when your time comes. Anything can happen and I mean anything, amirite!?
Again, while I’m ecstatic about the future of the Indianapolis Colts, I want to make sure we temper our expectations. We have a first-year head coach and quarterback. One of our likely leading WRs is a rookie as is potentially one of each of our starting secondary and a lineman could very well all log serious repetitions as young players. Oh, and special teams! Young teams tend to make mistakes on things like special teams and in high-pressure situations. Year-to-year, the average NFL team improves their record by +4 wins at the most. If we want to look at this from a logical, historically accurate and completely reasonable angle, we should be really excited if the Colts win 8-9 games this upcoming season. It’s hard to both score touchdowns and win football games at this level without some experience and consistency. It’s going to be very hard to do that with a bunch of people that lack experience. I’m not saying they won’t be the best team in their Division and won’t make the Playoffs. I’m just done winning 4-5 games, personally. I’m ready for 12+ win seasons again as a baseline expectation of the franchise. I honestly believe the Colts are about to be a huge thorn in the NFL’s side for the next few years because they’re young and athletic. They are the youngest I can ever remember a team being and again, I’m not saying the Jacksonville Jaguars are unbeatable. I refuse. You can’t make me.
Houston and Tennessee? I would love to play against Tannehill/Levis! Who is Stroud handing the ball off to after Dameon Pierce gets 10 carries for 30 yards against this Colts defense again (who I have high expectations out of this upcoming season)? Flatly, if you’re not a QB, it’s not your job to care about what’s going on at QB on your team. A lot of people disagree with that, but my argument is just that when non-QBs worry about QBs, it takes their focus off of all of the things they COULD control and instead, they’re focusing their energy on things they have no control over. To me, hearing that Shaq Leonard et al pulled up a chair to watch AR at rookie mini-camp should be the threshold they cross mentally where now there’s no need (or simply less of a need) to be worrying about “OMG what are we going to do at QB?” We’ve solved that for now.
To close, those of you that have been following along know that for the last year and a change, I’ve been in CPT with the VA for PTSD related to my time in service. Part of that has to do with the fact that when I was on active duty in the Marine Corps infantry over 15 years ago, my best friend, roommate, and battle buddy died while also on active duty stateside. They found cocaine in his system in autopsy, so they took away the SGLI his family would receive and gave him an OTH (Other-than-Honorable) discharge (they buried him in a pine box and wouldn’t let me take leave to bury him). For a long time, I felt responsible for his death because I wasn’t there to prevent it from happening and because I felt responsible for him personally(I am my brother’s keeper, right?). Also, I was medically separated from the Marine Corps six months after his death.
I had separated my shoulder and my 1st rib, broken bones in my arm, and have nerve damage as a result of a neck injury sustained during our work-up for the 26th MEU that my unit made me train through against my will that resulted in me not being able to feel the fingers in my right hand still to this day!
I got better!
Eventually, they sent me to another unit, I got surgery and PT. I was ready to get back to ass-kicking! They gave me a bunch of money and sent me home instead. Hmm. That’s weird, right?
Put a pin in that.
I found out in 2018 that he was murdered. My mission is to clear his name without burdening his family (they know he was murdered - his wife is the one who contacted me and gave me the information after striking out personally years ago). Also, I don’t know those people and this isn’t about money (there’s a path to justice here that doesn’t cause someone unnecessary trauma, right?). I am working with the Wounded Warrior Project, but they’ve let me know that because “there’s nothing in it for me” (I’m not a family member and I’m not trying to get money”), there are no legal assets from WWP to help me clear his name. I honestly believe we can do anything. I believe that if people are highly motivated, all I have to do is be part of a winning team and I can clear my buddy’s name just by telling his story as I rise in the coaching profession because people are mission-oriented and this is a Worthy Cause, is it not?
His name was RJ Rady.
See you in a couple of weeks!