According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Louis Riddick, and Seth Walder (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts rank just 26th in the ‘2023 NFL Future Power Rankings’—when focused on long-term expectations over the next three seasons (i.e, 2023-2025):
26. Indianapolis Colts
Overall score: 72.7
Reason for hope: The front office has a good drafting track record, and it believes Anthony Richardson has the ability to be a star quarterback in the NFL. Richardson is the key reason for optimism here in the short term, and Colts fans will be eager to see him on the field as soon as possible. New coach Shane Steichen comes from Philadelphia, where they seem to know a thing or two about growing coaches. — Graziano
Reason for concern: I was wrong about this team in 2022, and my biggest worry for 2023 is whether this offensive line — which ranked last in pass block win rate and 23rd in run block win rate in 2022 — is the most overhyped, overpaid unit in the NFL. A turnaround from the OL is crucial to this organization winning games, especially with a rookie quarterback. — Riddick
Stat to know: Over the past five years, Shaquille Leonard has recorded 17 forced fumbles. That’s the most by an off-ball linebacker by a mile (Lavonte David is next with 10) and third-most by any player in that span — despite the fact he barely played last season (three games). Leonard will be just 28 years old this year, so if he can regain his form, he can help Indianapolis now and for years to come. — Walder
ESPN’s esteemed football panel focused and scored each NFL team in the following categories: quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability/capital, front office, and coaching using a specified scale.
For Colts fans, it’s hard to be too upset. The Colts finished with the league’s fifth worst record last season, and a number of their biggest stars: Shaquille Leonard, Quenton Nelson, Jonathan Taylor, Ryan Kelly, and Kenny Moore II underperformed either because of a regression in play or by being limited by injuries.
The Colts used to be the team with the up-and-coming young core a few years ago, but a lot of those same guys are now in their late twenties, meaning the long-term future may not be as bright as it once appeared.
However, most of the Colts future success over the next handful of years rests largely on the shoulders of top rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, and whether he develops and it eventually all truly clicks—as he has NFL superstar potential at starting quarterback.
If Richardson ultimately proves to be the real deal, the Colts could rapidly ascend atop such a future power ranking because the franchise would be in great hands for years to come at the league’s most important position with a dynamic playmaker.