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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are going to a popular team for discussion in this year’s draft cycle.

Sitting at the 4th pick and with a desperate need at quarterback, Chris Ballard will have a couple of monumental decisions to make trade.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin with the first round on Thursday, April 27th.

As we do annually, we’ve started to compile mock drafts from the draft pundits with what they are thinking for the Colts at No. 4 overall or a trade situation.

Here is first Mock Draft look for 2023:

 

ESPN.com’s Jordan Reid: Pick No. 4: QB-C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

Reid’s Analysis: The Colts have played musical chairs at quarterback since the abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck in 2019, which means they could be aggressive in this draft to trade up for the guy they want. In this scenario, the music officially stops, and the team secures its QB of the future in Stroud, a traditional pocket passer who has clean footwork and solid body mechanics. In an offense that already has building-block players like Jonathan TaylorMichael Pittman Jr. and Quenton Nelson, Stroud would have early help as Indianapolis builds around his skill set. He finished 2022 second in the FBS in Total QBR (88.8) and TD passes (41), whereas Indianapolis’ 37.8 QBR and 15 TD throws are both bottom-six numbers.

 

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson Pick No. 1: QB-Will Levis (Kentucky)

Wilson’s Analysis : Levis, who definitely looks the part, was plagued by injuries and poor play all fall. That said, NFL teams love how he projects to the next level but he’ll be a controversial talking point for the next six months. Either way, if owner Jim Irsay thinks Levis is the guy to turn things around in Indy, it’s easy to imagine that he will spare no expense to go get him.

 

Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner: Pick No. 1: QB-Bryce Young (Alabama)

Renner’s Analysis: The Chicago Bears are sitting on a golden ticket. With a quarterback talent like Young in this class, the No. 1 overall pick is going to be in high demand. The Colts make too much sense to be the team willing to offer a sweetheart deal to the Bears because a) it would still allow the Bears to be in striking distance for one of the two blue-chip defensive line prospects in the class, and b) the Colts are desperate for a franchise quarterback after years of one-season rentals at the position. 

 

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: Pick No. 1: QB-Bryce Young (Alabama)

Brugler’s Analysis: Projected trade: No. 1 for Nos. 4, 35 and a 2024 first-round pick This trade makes sense for both sides. The Colts have a clear need at quarterback, with an owner and general manager who are motivated to get it right. Colts GM Chris Ballard, who was previously a scout in Chicago, is very familiar with Bears GM Ryan Poles — the two worked together for four years in the Chiefs’ front office. This would mark the third time over the last 25 years that the Colts held the No. 1 pick. It worked out well the other two times: Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Bryce Young is a complete outlier from a size perspective and would be somewhat off-type for Ballard, but Young’s instincts, vision and accuracy as a passer are the traits worth betting on at the position. It won’t be a driving reason behind a trade up, but sniping Young ahead of division foe Houston would be an added benefit.

 

Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft Bible: QB-Bryce Young (Alabama)

Analysis: A smart-accurate passer who doesn’t force throws and rarely makes mistakes. Lacks prototype size but sees the field very well, demonstrates natural feel in the pocket and can push the ball downfield with a simple flick of the wrist.

 

Totals:  

QB-Bryce Young (3)

QB-C.J. Stroud (1)

QB-Will Levis (1)

 

Bowen’s Analysis: First, it’s pretty wild to see the Colts here as an organization—as a frequent trade candidate to No. 1 overall and taking any of three quarterbacks in the 2023 Draft. Several early draft pundits have the Colts pegged as a trade up team to No. 1 with the Chicago Bears. While it would make sense for the Colts to look into such a move, do not forget about the Houston Texans sitting there at No. 2. Houston has far more draft capital, quantity and quality wise, than the Colts do. Plus, they also have a massive quarterback need. Bryce Young is the choice in all of these early trade-up scenarios. Another thing to keep in mind as the Colts evaluate quarterbacks, does Chris Ballard view that position like he does others? Remember, Ballard is a super ‘traits-y guy’ when it comes to selecting players at other spots. He’s obsessed with height/weight measurables and athletic testing. Young, who might not even be 5’11”, is a major outlier at the quarterback position. If Young played another position, and had a rare height profile to that spot, it’s unlikely Ballard would trade up/select him with a premium pick. Does that same philosophy apply to quarterback? Does that mean the Colts might like Levis more than most, given the raw attributes he carries? These all things to keep in mind as the chaos plays out.