INDIANAPOLIS – In what is typically known as a quiet week on the NFL calendar, that doesn’t appear to be the case for the Colts, especially behind the scenes.
Peter King of NBS Sports reported on Monday the Colts will spend this week working out the presumed top-4 quarterbacks in this draft class (in alphabetical order): Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young.
Normally, the first week of April is not a busy time of year for NFL teams.
It usually falls right after the quick paced wave of free agency. Owner’s meetings are done. And we are still a week away from the Colts starting their offseason program, with players getting back into the building.
But the post-Super Bowl hire of Shane Steichen meant the Colts got a late-start on offseason activities. The draft is just 3 weeks from Thursday, which is the night they’ll make what could be called the most important/difficult franchise-altering decision in decades.
And work is still to be done on putting in sharpie how the Colts view this 2023 quarterback class.
Working these QBs out is part due diligence and also a huge part in getting these guys out of the controlled, more comfortable environments of a Combine, or, especially, a Pro Day.
More than anything though, it allows Steichen, and other Colts decisions makers, to formulate what is the likely separator in this process.
How are these guys wired?
Steichen has worked, and found success, with all shapes, sizes and styles of quarterbacks.
But the common theme between Philip Rivers, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts was between the eras.
“A guy that is obsessed with football, that loves it, I think all the best players that have played a long time in this league, they have that ‘it’ factor,” Steichen says. “The love of the game, just studying the game, knowing exactly how it needs to look, I think that’s a big part of it.
“A lot of these guys are going to be talented. They are going to be able to throw it, they’re going to be able to run, they’re going to be able to make plays, but what’s that edge? What’s that edge that separates them?”
Listen to Steichen share a story on the draft process with Herbert, as the Chargers ended up drafting him 6 overall in 2020.
“That was the Covid year and I remember we had to do (Herbert’s) interview over Zoom and that was the exposure,” Steichen shares. “I think the Covid thing hit right after his Pro Day. We were going to do a private with him I believe and then the Covid thing hit and that was done. So it was done just via Zoom and off the tape. What I took away from that is this is a guy who loves football, was a perfectionist and wanted to be right. He did a hell of a job in that interview process. We gave him some information to study. He studied it, he nailed it. Then we went to his tape and just how he talked about the game and his preparation throughout the week – what he went through Sunday to Friday to get ready for his games and college football and just the vetting process of talking to so many different people and finding out what his mental makeup was.”
Again, that’s what this week is likely about for the Colts.
Getting these players in front of the most important people with the Colts and getting a feel of who they are and what makes them tick.
It’s that unmeasurable intangible which can often be the difference.
“I mean, obviously you have to be able to throw it, cut it through the wind and all those things,” Steichen explains. “Accuracy is one of the biggest things. When it’s third-and-eight and you’ve got to have it, you’ve got to be able to stand in the pocket and deliver a strike with a guy barreling down your chest. I think that says a lot about a guy’s toughness. I look for that on tape. The physical traits obviously, guys come in different shapes and sizes. We’ve seen Hall of Famers that are 6-foot, we’ve seen Hall of Famers who are 6-5. Again, it’s that ‘it’ factor, right, because everyone is going to have some talent and you have to find it and dig deep.”
For Steichen, it’s clear what will be the final difference for him.
And if the Colts feel that this week, does it mean they trade up to No. 3 with Arizona to make sure they have the third quarterback choice come April 27? If the reverse happens, does that mean the Colts hold off on a quarterback choice, or even entertain the idea of trading back?
Let’s examine the 4 quarterbacks who will reportedly visit with the Colts this week:
- Will Levis: How real was the junior year vs. the senior year? That’s the debate with Levis, who showed some Matthew Stafford-type ability as a junior at Kentucky before looking very blah as a senior, as the support system around him had numerous new faces/question marks. Those around the Kentucky program praise Levis for the type of leader and teammate he’s been, and you know the Colts like hearing that.
- Anthony Richardson: If this debate was these four types of players at any other position, Richardson would definitely be the pick given Chris Ballard’s obsession with physical traits. But this is a guy with just 13 starts in college and was a 54 percent passer. Shane Steichen has said accuracy can be taught, so are the Colts willing to be patient in molding this rare block of clay?
- C.J. Stroud: When you get to the next two guys, the question is probably more to do with “will they even get to the 4th pick?” It’s fair to say Stroud has the highest floor of any of these guys. He calls himself a “ball placement specialist” and showed much more playmaking in the National Semifinal against Georgia than what was typically asked from him. Things often came pretty easy for Stroud at Ohio State. Was that because of talent or the overwhelming upper hand OSU frequently had against opponents?
- Bryce Young: Before the height questions, there’s little denying how dynamic of a creator Young brings to the most important positions in sports. Young exudes poise at quarterback, seemingly never crippling under pressure or a collapsing pocket. But the height question? Will the playmaking be abundant enough with his limited size? And what about the decade-long durability for a 5-10, sub-200-pound quarterback?
Top 20 College Athletes With The Highest NIL Valuations
Funniest College Football Player Names Of 2023
Colts Notebook: Shane Steichen Talks Release Of Shaquille Leonard
Colts Cut Shaquille Leonard
20 Last Place Punishments For Your 2023 Fantasy Football League
Why Release Shaq Leonard Now?
5 Things Learned: Colts Finally Close Out Home Win
Report: Jonathan Taylor Could Miss Time Due To Thumb Injury