INDIANAPOLIS – With some admitted reluctancy, it is time to make a mock draft attempt at the Colts.
We will hope for another hit like Michael Pittman at No. 34 in 2020, but that’s highly unlikely (hey, at least we got the position right last year with wide receiver, but not the choice in Alec Pierce).
This 2023 mock draft for the Colts includes a big-play weapon in Round 2, some cornerback attention and not forgetting about the offensive line need.
Here is my Colts mock draft for 2023:
Round 1-4: QB-Anthony Richardson (Florida)
-Under this scenario, we have this trio off the board when the Colts get on the clock at No. 4: QB-Bryce Young, QB-C.J. Stroud, DE-Will Anderson. So that leaves the Colts will both Anthony Richardson and Will Levis to choose from. Honestly, I don’t have a strong conviction on the Colts favoring one over the other. I’ve gone back and forth on this many times, too. If there is a consistent on-field attribute we’ve heard from both Chris Ballard and Shane Steichen in this process, it’s the accuracy of the quarterback, which is a major question of Richardson. But I guess I’m reading a lot into Ballard downplaying one QB being most linked to the Colts as of late (isn’t that Levis?) and Steichen stating accuracy can be developed. Who knows, honestly. Yes, Ballard is enamored with a player’s physical traits, and Steichen has had great, recent success with a dynamic runner at quarterback. So I’ve gone against my earlier thinking of believing that ‘accuracy’ element, from the both of them. If Stroud is on the board though, that would be my pick.
Round 2-35: WR-Tyler Scott (Cincinnati)
-From a pure needs/replacing snaps standpoint, cornerback is high on the draft list. But let’s rely on the draft depth for there. And let’s focus here on ‘supporting the young quarterback with a pass catcher,’ a la how the Colts handled things with Andrew Luck in 2012. In a dream world, this selection would have a T.Y. Hilton-type impact on the new Colts quarterback. Scott is similar to Hilton in size (5-9, 177) and speed (4.44 40-yard dash). Chris Ballard has drafted plenty of taller/bigger wideouts, but it’s time to find a point guard to go with the power forwards in the room. Scott has speed to impact all over the route tree, but his big play ability of 8 catches of longer than 30 yards last season really stands out. We know Chris Ballard has been a fan of Luke Fickell and Cincinnati’s program, with two selections coming from there last season.
Round 3-79 (from Washington): CB-Clark Phillips III (Utah)
-Again, part of me wants to just hammer the offensive skill with these early picks, but I can’t totally ignore the need at cornerback (and my mock simulator didn’t allow for a full-offensive run). And that’s especially true when you look at the young QBs and WRs littered across the AFC. This pick is for a long-term replacement of Kenny Moore, who is in a contract year. Philips is just 5-9 and 184, but he has tremendous ball instincts. In 31 career starts, Philips had 30 passes defensed and 9 interceptions (2 of those returned for a touchdown), with versatility to play both inside and outside. Philips was a captain at Utah this past season and was voted an All-American.
Round 4-106: CB-Cory Trice (Purdue)
-Before we get back into the offensive side of the ball, cornerback needs some more attention. And that’s where we are going to lead off Day 3 of the draft. Unlike Philips, Trice is a massive cornerback at 6-3 and 206 pounds. He also had 12 passes defensed in 13 starts last season. Given his size, Trice was originally a safety upon arriving at Purdue before making the switch to cornerback. A combination of Philips and Trice would give the Colts some options at a position where short-term and long-term questions reside.
Round 5-138: OT-Blake Freeland (BYU)
-Offensive line attention is needed in this draft so here comes a versatile tackle option. Freeland is 6-7 and 302 pounds. He brings 41 career starts with him to the NFL with 15 of those at right tackle and 26 of them at left tackle (switching from right tackle to left tackle after two years). Freeland, who was a captain at BYU, has a nice athletic profile to work with as the Colts look to build depth behind Braden Smith and Bernhard Raiman. Freeland was initially a high school quarterback before filling out his 6-7 frame.
Round 5-162 (from Buffalo): LB-Anfernee Orji (Vanderbilt)
-Chris Ballard has drafted the linebacker position very well in his time with the Colts, and the position could use a Day 3 selection in 2023. So here it is with the athletic Orji joining the group. Orji was a three-year starter at Vandy, playing for a head coach in Clark Lea who has a plenty of history on the defensive side of the ball and with the linebacker position. Orji is just 6-1 and 230, but had a really strong Combine in the testing numbers. Orji was Vandy’s leading tackler each of the last three seasons and brings extensive special teams history to the NFL.
Round 5-176 (from Dallas): OC/OG-Jarrett Patterson (Notre Dame)
-The Colts need to start finding Day 3 offensive linemen who start and quit investing majorly into those sorts of positions. Patterson could be that type of find. He started 34 games at center and 12 at left guard during his time at Notre Dame, transitioning into the interior after his first season. A two-year captain for the Irish, Patterson was lauded for his leadership amidst a head coaching change and during quarterback turnover.
Round 7-221: RB-Evan Hull (Northwestern)
-Don’t the Colts need more of a pass catching running back threat to complement the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Zach Moss? With Nyheim Hines in Buffalo, the Colts never really replaced him in an effective manner late last year. It was a surprise to see Hull falling this far. Hull caught 33 balls in 2021 and then 55 this past season. Those are really high numbers for a running back, especially in the Big Ten. This type of ingredient for an offense is helpful, particularly with a young QB, and is worth a Round 7 pick. The Colts should spend a Day 3 pick on a running back who has a propensity for catching the ball out of the backfield.
Round 7-236 (from Tampa Bay): S-Christian Izien (Rutgers)
-Izien has a strong special teams background and that’s needed at 5-8 and 199 pounds. Why not get a 4th down demon for a new special teams coordinator, and a unit who has lost a lot of its core guys in recent years. Izien did start 41 games at Rutgers, with 14.0 tackles for loss in the last two years. Izien had strong quickness numbers at Rutgers pro day. At safety, the Colts do have young options in Julian Blackmon (entering a contract year), Rodney Thomas II and Nick Cross.
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